Saturday, 27 March 2010

Lights. Cameras. Action!…….

I have discussed in part on this blog how I can be described as a bit geeky. I wouldn’t come out and say it forthright. If you asked me “Dan, are you geeky?”, I would probably reply by sneering in a cool way, flipping up the collar of my shirt and trying to do a passable impression of the Fonz, because quite simply, Fonzy is cool and in no way resembles a geek. A bit like me.

But the one area of my life in which I am quite happy to hold up my hands and say “Yes, I’m a geek. Guilty as charged. Deal with it.” is my love of cinema.

Ever since I ran screaming out of Romford cinema at the age of three as fast as my stubby little legs would carry me due to my mum taking me to see Sleeping Beauty and me having the shit scared out of me by the wicked witch, a passion for film was seared into the very fibre of my being. A passion that grew more and more as time went by.

I love the whole notion of cinema, and also Hollywood as well. I don’t mean the plastic version that we have today, but the classic version of the 40’s and 50’s, where film was still a fairly new mainstay of popular culture and it slowly began to engrain itself into public conscious. The lights, the glamour, the largeness of it all. The simple fact that for a completely made up medium, it’s amazing how you can just lose a few hours of your life and go somewhere you have never been before.

That sense of anticipation as the lights go down. The collective hush from a complete group of strangers sitting together to share the same experience. The twat behind you who is also a massive movie geek, but won’t shut the fuck up about it, and keeps trying to impress the girl he is with with a load of facts that he actually hasn’t got right in the first place (Yeah, you know who you are buddy! Your film knowledge is no match for mine!).

Here is a list of my top five favourite films.

1. Jaws.
2. An American Werewolf In London.
3 The Blues Brothers.
4. Ghostbusters.
5. Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Now some sniffy film snobs may look at that list with a slight air of disdain. A simple list of huge blockbusters that are pure popcorn fodder. I can almost hear the tutting and sighing.

These aren’t classics, these are populist trash!

So, what's wrong with that?

I’ve immersed myself in cinema all my life. I’ve watched most of the true so called classics and the first early pioneers in the medium because I wanted to experience everything to do with film.

I’ve enjoyed Citizen Kane (though I preferred Welles Touch Of Evil. That ten minute tracking shot for the planting of the bomb, Scorsese so got the inspiration for the Copacabana scene in Goodfellas from that),

I’ve devoured Hitchcock's entire catalogue and marvelled at how he created all the techniques for creating suspense that are copied to this very day (the only other person to fall within that category is John Carpenter. Seriously, watch Halloween now. Not scary at all, been done too many times. But imagine seeing it for the first time? Amazing).

I've sat through both Nosferatu and the original Friz Lang’s Metropolis, wouldn’t say I enjoyed them, just sat through them.

I’ve watched Bergman's The Seventh Seal. Didn’t understand any of it, but I think it’s because I don’t understand chess?

I’ve watched Battleship Potemkin after learning De Palma based the whole Grand Central Station scene in The Untouchables, with the baby falling down the stairs in its cartridge, from those famous six minutes in Eisenstien’s film (and this is the main reason why I have watched most of these early classics, a sense of duty to see where the later homage's came from).

So I understand all the history and all weight behind titles like these, but in all honesty, when you strip away all the pretensions and graces, I believe films should be about losing yourself for two hours in a world that makes you happy, and most importantly, and takes your mind off reality for a little while. And that's what my list does for me. If I’m ever down or upset, or if I just fancy spending a few hours with something that feels like an old friend to me, I’ll stick on a film from my list and I’ll know I’ll be in good company.

When I was a kid, my love of films spilled out into the games that I played as well. My friend had a huge climbing frame in his back yard, so when I went round there to play, that naturally became the Orca and we would play Jaws. And the strangest thing was, as I hung from the bars of that climbing frame, the green grass of his lawn changed into the murky waters of the sea and I could see the dark shape of the great white lurking menacingly beneath it. I can still remember it vividly to this day. How we would both be looking in the same direction, pointing at the same imaginary shark, with its mouth like an open cave filled with teeth like carving knives, just waiting for us to fall into the water so it could eat us. It’s amazing how potent a child's imagination can be.

If I was playing alone in my house, I would pretend to be Indiana Jones. If my dad was sleeping off a long nights work, I would make it my quest to try and steal something from his bedroom as he slept. So I would creep around, trying not to set off any booby traps and awake the great god Mick, as all the natives were incredibly afraid of him when he was grumpy from a lack of sleep. So with my trusty sidekick Benji, my pet dog, we would crawl up the stairs, avoiding all the poison arrows and trapdoor steps, to reach the temple door of the great god Mick, where I would open it with the magic amulet (a piece of my mum’s jewellery) and try and sneak in the bedroom to steal something from there. Sadly, my plans would always go awry, as Benji would then leap in the room and on the bed, licking my dad’s face so he awoke. I always wished for a better sidekick like a monkey or something.

Every Wednesday my mum and dad would take me to our local supermarket for our weekly food shop. As soon as I stepped through the door I became James Bond, Superspy, and would spend the next hour stalking them through the aisles, hiding just out of vision, but always keeping my targets in sight. You never know what those Russian defectors would get up too. They may look like they are buying semi-skimmed milk, but in reality, all just a ruse. World domination was their plan, and I was the only one who could stop them.

Now I am older and more mature, I’ve ceased playing games and pretending to be characters out of a film (Well, there was the one time where I was Batman and Kates was Catwoman, but to be honest, we probably shouldn’t talk about that). But the film loving person inside of me still relates certain moments in my life to the cinema and the big screen. And that is purely down to the invention of the mp3 player.

Having an iPod is like having your own personal movie soundtrack in your pocket, and for a cinema obsessive, it can sometimes do weird things to your daydreams.

You could be walking along the street on a beautiful summer’s day, a bright and bouncy tune playing in your ears, and suddenly it’s the opening credits of a feel good comedy. You can almost picture the titles scrawling across the screen as you walk, the camera tracking you as you take the route to wherever it is that you are going. Everything bright and cheerful and happy as you nod and smile every time you pass a complete stranger.

Or you could be travelling on the train home on a dull winters evening, purple light pressing hard against the window as you rest your head on it, watching the rain run down your reflection in the glass. Suddenly a sad and melancholy song comes on your iPod and all of a sudden it’s the heartrending scene in a movie where the hero is leaving the one he loves, the pain and sadness etched on his face, visible to see as the train puts even more miles between the two of them. No one on earth can truly understand the anguish the hero feels, its immense, but saying that, most people that travel home from Liverpool Street station at six in the evening have pain etched all over their faces. Even more so if you can’t get a seat.

So all through my life, I have always daydreamed at certain odd moments that I have had movie cameras on me (Come on, surely it can’t just be me?). In the middle of emotional snapshots of my life, could be an argument, or some deep and meaningful conversation, a tiny voice at the back of my brain would whisper: This is where the Coldplay song would kick in.

If I am out with friends and a particular good time was being had by all, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy would suddenly spark up in my mind with Go Daddy-oh and I would be slap bang in the middle of a scene from Swingers (Top tip, if googling Swingers for images, real good idea to turn the safe search on. Mmmmmmmmn, filthy).

My one main worry is that this merging of film and real life will become too confusing. Do I really want to be in the middle of McDonalds to be told that they had run out of Banana milkshake and then find myself on my knees crying “Nooooooo!” with arms aloft like in that scene from Platoon while Barbers Adagio For Strings plays mournfully around me?

Actually yes, I probably would, just to see the expression on people’s faces. 

So my little collection of favourite movies have been with my nearly all my life. They have entertained me, comforted me, kept me company when I have been alone, been shared amongst friends and partners, and above all, been the one constant thing that I can rely upon. I know what I am going to get from them every time I turn on the TV and settled down to watch them.

And how many things can you say that about?

Sunday, 21 March 2010

A Treat For You All……

Being the literary genius that I am, I get on a regular occasion at least two people every three or four years asking me if I have written my novel yet. So due to this unprecedented public demand, I have decided to give the followers of this blog something back as a thank you for all the support and love I have received from you all since I started it.

An extract from the half completed manuscript of my novel.

Yes, you just read that right.

My gift to you.

This is a few short scenes from my searing and heart rending expose of the English class system. It encapsulates love, loss, and all the things that happen in-between. The writing is very layered, so it will take considerable brain power to read between the lines and to fully grasp what I am really writing about.

So, if you are ready to begin, let me take you by the hand and take you into another world.


Mimi Demure slowly sipped at her lukewarm tea as she gazed wistfully out of the window of the parlour room, watching the ice melt slowly from the bare fingers of the willow tree that sat melancholy outside. She gave a small sigh and stirred the muddy brown liquid in her cup once more.

From the other side of the room, Roger noticed her discontent and looked up from the spreadsheets and plans that he had laid out all over the parlour room table with concern on his handsome face (I don't mean he spread them out over the table with his face).

“Mimi, what’s wrong?” he asked her, worry mixed with love swirling around in his dreamy brown eyes.

“Nothing Roger, “she replied in a voice that sounded tired and worn like the face of their groundsman, Calder, “Just go back to your work.”

Roger rolled up the sheaths of paper, filled with diagrams and equations, and tied them up with a lace ribbon.

“Mimi, my love. I have watched you now for the last year in despair. I feel as if you are slipping away from me and I don’t know how I am ever to keep hold of you.” he asked her, pain creeping into his rough, but yet warm face.

“Do you love me Roger?” she asked him, staring into those dreamy brown eyes with her own ice cold blue ones.

Roger rose from his table and walked over to her, falling to his knees and taking her hand within his own.

“My darling, of course I love you. You are my world, my light, my everything. If you were not in my life, well, I wouldn’t know what to do. My heart would be torn asunder, split like the firewood between Calder’s lumber axe. Why must you ask such silly things?”

“I’m tired Roger, tired of this life that I lead. I am like a buttercup in spring, I need love like the buttercup needs sunlight and water, and at this present time I feel as if I am in a desert, parched and dry.”

“Mimi, I don’t understand?” Roger replied, feeling the slow lurching sensation within the centre of his chest at the slow realisation that the person he loved most in the world was slipping from his grasp. Slowly.

“Do you remember when you took me to Paris Boulevard Roger?”

“I do, we danced naked by moonlight so the black light slid over your skin like oil. I remember that night more than any other in my life, it was the night that I knew I loved you.”

“I can’t remember ever feeling like that again Roger. You have been so wrapped up in your work that you have hardly noticed me, noticed my despair. I longed for you to look up from your blueprints, your plans and schemes, and just see this woman, this flesh and blood, sitting before you, just hoping for a smile, a simple glance that would prove that you still feel the same way about me. But it never came Roger, it never came.”

This last part was said in a wistful whisper.

Oh my darling!” Roger wailed to the oppressive weight of the parlour room as the grandfather clock ticked slowly behind him. “What have I done to you, what torment have I placed you under?”

He beat his fist upon the hard wooden floor with every word he uttered.

Mimi slowly removed her hand from his.

“I’m leaving you Roger. There is a plane leaving tomorrow for Cairo. It has a one way ticket. I won’t be returning.”

Roger remained silent on his knees; the only flicker of emotion was a slight twitch under his right eye that flickered like the wings of a hummingbird.

“Do you have nothing to say Roger? Nothing to ask of your love as she tells you that she is leaving you and won’t be returning?”

Suddenly Rogers forehead split apart like the teeth of a bear trap, exposing his trembling pink brain, a brain that had a six foot red tentacle sprouting from it with a luminous yellow eyeball on the end.

“Oh Roger, what’s wrong?” Mimi cried as the tentacle moved towards her face so she could see her own reflection in its shiny, slimy surface.

Roger opened his mouth as if to speak and a guttural voice spoke without his lips moving.

“Sub human creature, I am Xanther from the Planet Mugathra! All humans will be enslaved!”

Mimi shot from her seat and pressed both hands against her shocked face.

“Oh Roger, why did you have to be the first Englishman to ever set foot on Mars? Damn the space race! Damn it all to hell! How am I ever going to explain this at the tennis club?”

She pushed herself backwards from her chair as the thing that used to be her husband shed its human skin and sat in front of her in a quivering red mass of blob like tissue with many more tentacles whipping around its obscene body.

“Blaaaaaaargh!” the blob cried as it wobbled towards her. “Destroy all humans!”

Mimi quickly ran out of the parlour room and down the hallway towards the armament display. She grabbed the Sword of Punarbrula from its display case and turned to face her jelly like husband as he rolled glisteningly across the floor after her.

“I promised myself I would never use this again after what happened in the Congo,” she cried, holding the sword in the position her sensei, Muturgo Barringturo, had taught her, “But it seems to me that the Sword of Punarbrula is the only thing that will kill you now Roger, that”

She waited until Roger was only a few feet away.

“I will always remember Paris.” she whispered as tears rolled down her face.

The sword flashed down.

An inhuman scream was heard.

Followed by a pop.

Pretty powerful stuff huh? I think it really dissects the human condition and lays out all that emotion bare for us all to see. I sometimes look at the things I write and can understand how people say that it is some form of a blessing the talent that I have, but in reality, it is really some kind of a curse. If people keep expecting you to write stuff this good, this powerful, what happens if you have an off day and write any old crap that just looks as if you have just cobbled it together in about 20 minutes?

Lucky for me, I’m still waiting for that day to come.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

You can let go of my hand now.

Disclaimer- This is of course not an extract from my latest manuscript, but merely a piece of crap I concocted. I don’t have manuscript. I have ideas for three novels, that if published, would actually change the face of books forever, but I just haven’t got round to writing them yet. This is due to the fact that I am lazy and suffer from crippling self doubt.

All of these books would be about Vampires. I like Vampires. I had an idea about ten years ago to write a book about a teenage girl who falls in love with a Vampire. It would be filled with sexual awakening and that heady rush and heartfelt yearning that only teenage love could bring. I was going to call it “My Boyfriends A Vampire, But I’m Actually OK With This.” but decided that there would never be a market for shit like that.

So if anyone out there would actually like to do the writing for my novels for me, I can dictate and stuff, I will sell the rights 70/30 in my favour, and even let you have some say on the obligatory Tim Burton film adaption.

Just let me know.

Extra Disclamier- It's amusing me (and worrying me in equal measures) that folk think I was actually being real with this.......

Sunday, 14 March 2010

He Talks To The Animals….

Apart from writing, I can safely say that my one and only other real passion in life is for animals. And not just the cute and fluffy kind, but even the really ugly ones as well. Those with teeth and pincers and eyes on stalks, all kinds of animal life fall within my love radar, I'm not all about the hot ones, you know?

I am just fascinated by the natural world. How it adapts and thrives to fit its surrounding. How they care for their young (well, most species) with a dedication that puts us to shame. And just how amazing it is that such things of beauty actually live on the same planet that I do. I have made a vow with myself that when I am older, and work and money are no longer a priority in my world, I will see out the remainder of my days seeing as much of it as I can.

I want to visit rainforests. I want to hug a monkey. I want to see the sunrise in some far flung country as its inhabitants drink from watering holes. I’m going to do this, sooner rather than later. I’m just going to do as much as I possibly can. To me, all of it is a gift and it is up to me if I am going to take it or not. And I will.

As most of the animal world I encounter now is mainly based here at home, I still can’t help but go all gooey with any kind of animal I meet..

I can’t pass a dog without bending down to pet it and make best friends and then try and steal it if the owner isn’t looking. If I go over to somebody's house and they have cats, rather than spend any time with the person I am meant to be visiting, I will be rolling around on the floor with their feline pets, rubbing faces with them and bonding. It is a common sight to see me sitting on someone's sofa with cats lying on me like I am some Dan shaped cushion.

And I love it.

I donate money every month to animal welfare charities, I get teary whenever I read of any form of cruelty to any animal, and I have even adopted a silverback gorilla called Ndahura from a charity called Friend A Gorilla.. Its brilliant. You get monthly updates on how him and his family (who are called the Bitukura) are doing in the jungle, and you also can log it and get satellite updates via GPS as they move across the land. Its awe inspiring stuff. My only worry is that one day I get a knock at the door and find a huge silverback sitting there with an overnight bag and a handwritten sign that says “Daddy”. That would be a tad hard to explain to the neighbours, and more importantly, my cat. But on the plus side it will make me 70% more attractive to women as it’s a proven scientific fact that women like men who have gorillas for best friends. And you can’t argue with scientific fact. I think that was proven once by scientific fact or something?

My love of all things animal started at a very early age at home. Apparently when I was a toddler, I would enter a room holding our cat Tibby by its tail and wearing a huge smile on my face. That cat never did like me much though. I could never understand why?

After I began living on my own, I ended up sharing my house with my family cat called Tinker (I didn’t name him, blame my mum for that one). Now Tinker was a strange cat. The most loving and people friendly animal you could imagine, he also had the rather unfortunate habit of being a little bit…..well, shall we say, dirty? He just didn’t know how to clean himself like cats normally do. He was a longhair and would regularly come in covered in leaves and grass so he resembled one of those tumbleweeds that you normally see rolling across the desert in westerns. His unhygienic ways earned him a name change from Tinker to Minger, and then finally it just settled on The Ming. He lived to the ripe old age of 23 and I miss him like crazy.

The cat I have at the moment is Dotty. Long term readers will know that I have spoken of her before, and even included pictures because that how I roll. Now Dotty is a high maintenance cat. She hates everybody but me, and even then she doesn’t like me that much unless I am feeding her.

I delivered Dotty about three years ago when her mum Holly got pregnant. I didn’t know she was pregnant. I came home from work and found her trying to get my attention by literally meowing right in my face. I got her a pillow to lie on and about five minutes later her lower half convulsed and a beautiful little kitten popped out. Being the stupid man that I am, I was elated with joy whilst fighting back tears and also not trying to throw up at the same time.

Now it’s just me and Dotty living in perfect harmony together. Unless she is getting fed or demanding some form of attention, she can normally be found cleaning her genitals somewhere in my flat. And the weird thing is (and maybe those who live alone with animals can back me up on this) after a long period of time, you end up speaking to your pets like they were another human being. Every night when I come home, I always have her rush to the door to greet me and I end up asking her how her day was as I hang my coat up.  I mean, why????????

Me: Hello Dotty how was your day?

Dotty: Was OK actually. Mooched around the living room for a bit, had a snooze in your sock draw for about six hours, then took a massive shit in my litter box. You can probably smell it now?

Me: My day was good as well. I ended-

Dotty: That's all very nice but feed me.

Me: OK.

The thing that amazes me most about the animal world is how much better they all are in comparison to us. True, we may have invented the Big Mac, instant coffee, and Kanye West, but if you match up these monumental achievements with anything within the animal kingdom, well, there is no contest really. And yet we humans, in our infinite wisdom, decide to rape and plunder the natural world until its inhabitants are fighting for their very survival.

We have all this wonder, all this beauty round us, and all we can do is destroy it bit by bit. It really makes me sick to my stomach and makes me think that we really don’t deserve it. We really don’t. It’s such a huge planet and yet we can’t find a way for every living thing to live in harmony with each other. I’m sorry for ending this post by turning into a hippy tree lover, but in all honesty, as I species, I hate us, I really do. We are like toddlers, just going round smashing everything up just because we can. It amazes me to think how much better the world would be if we just weren’t on it? We hunt things to the brink of existence, we destroy habitats as we spread out across the land like a virus, and one day it will just turn round and bite us so hard on the arse we will just look up with huge stupid expressions on our faces and shrug our shoulders and just go “Wasn’t me? Wasn’t my fault.” 

Bloody was though. All of it.

Especially Kanye West. For that there is no excuse.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


I’m not very good, am I?

Been a little lax on this blogging lark lately.

Believe me when I say, the intention was there, but the flesh was very, very weak.

Every night as I sat on my train home from work, I would think to myself: Yep, tonight I will catch up on my comments, make a new post and see what everyone else is up to. And then safe in the knowledge that this is what I was going to do, five minutes later I would find myself slumped half asleep against the train window, so from the outside I resembled one of those stick on Garfields that you would normally see looming back at you from some car windscreen in the mid nineties.

I know.

I’m crap.

Don’t hate me for this. I love reading comments, I love reading new blogs, it’s just at the moment I’m soooooooooooooooooooooooooo bloody tired. It’s not just the fact that I am now back in the rat race, but my new job is incredibly full on (in a fun way) and by the end of the day all I have the energy to do is crawl home, run a bath, have some dinner, and then decide if the insomnia is going to keep me awake for most of the night.

Anyways. Me.

Things are going really well at the moment. I have settled in pretty well in the job and feel that i am slowly getting to grips with it. I have already got someone into work, which was a brilliant feeling, especially when they told me and I could see how happy this person was. So the desire to get more results like this is strong, which is only a good thing I guess?

The team I work with are brilliant, though seeing as I am the only male in the group; I was worried this might be a problem at first. But I have been made to feel really welcome, and by some kind of social osmosis, I am now technically one of the girls. I know all the new fashions, all the best make up tips, and next week everyone is coming over to mine so we can have a Sex in the City marathon and eat ice cream whilst talking about boys, and then finish the night off by having a pillow fight in our negligees (this is what you ladies do during slumber parties, right?).

All in all though things slowly seem to be moving in the right direction for me for the first time in ages. And this pleases me immensely. But that still doesn’t excuse the tardiness in my blogging or replying to those kind enough to leave a comment.

So, in order to address this, I thought I might spread a little love.

I’ve been doing this for about six months now. And during that time, I have stumbled across some little gems of blogs that maybe some of you may not have seen before. So I would like to point you in their direction. Seriously, these are some brilliant writers and if you get a chance, pop on over, have a look and then click on that follow button. You seriously won’t be disappointed.

First up is aladdinsane12 at She Don't Make False Claims. She first popped over and commented on my porn post, leaving the comment of “You had me at meathole" It was at this point that I knew we would get along. I am always interested to see what her mind will throw up next. Always funny, always interesting. Go check her out.

Next is Millions of Atoms Man at Millions of Atoms. To say I am envious of him is an understatement. This is one seriously funny individual and will often leave you scratching your head and wondering where the hell he gets it from.

If you are ever feeling a tad down and need a quick pick me up, go and say Hi to Jacque at A Quirky Girls Thoughts. She is like a walking form of prozac and you will leave her site with a smile on your face and a new found love for the world. Seriously, she is that good.

If you like your humour a little rough and ready, go check out Mr Tony Spunk at Lounging Around With Tony Spunk. No topic is safe from this very funny writer and he always gives us an impressive look into his own life, his loves, and some of the very scary ladies that he has encountered on his travels. Apparently there was once an altercation with a six foot transvestite called Trudy, but he doesn’t really like to talk about it. 

I am quite new to Kato and Pandora's Box but what I have read so far I love. She really has an ability to draw you in to her world and has a perfect warm writing style that is like sinking into a nice bath. Plus how can you not love someone who loves Ghostbusters as much as she does? Pop over and say hello, she will make you feel really welcome.

And last but no means least, the lovely Miss Overthinker at Life Uncensored. I’ve been reading Miss OT’s blog for a while now and she has shared some hard times, but some good as well. She has sometimes mentioned that she doesn’t believe herself to be much of a writer, I think that when you go over and visit and actually read some of her stuff, you will see for yourself that this is the biggest pile of steaming donkey poo going. She is a fantastic writer who can make you feel like she is actually having a conversation with you, rather than reading words on a screen. I always look out for her next post when I’m on here.

So that was a few little personal sites that I love visiting and thought others might like to check out as well. If you do go over there, tell them I said hello (though seeing as I haven’t visited anyone in ages, they might just go “Who?”).

So to round off, I’m sorry for being a crap blogger. I will try to address this best I can. But thank you to anyone who has visited and commented, I do read them, I do love them, I will do better.

So until next time.

I’m high fiving you all.