Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On finishing a notebook

Last night I finished a notebook I've kept since 29 December 2011 (when I was in Egypt). I've kept notebooks since I was in my teens, and find them very useful to refer back to – pinching ideas from my past to pitch anew to unsuspecting bosses. It's not a diary, but flicking through this latest volume reminds me what I was working on and having ideas about, and what preoccupied the insides of my head.

There are the day-to-day notes as I wrote one novel, 10 plays and three short films, marking down new clever wheezes or things I'd need to go back and fix. There are pitches for yet more plays, films and comics, notes on what I was reading or watching (much of it later blogged here), fragments of conversation – real and imagined – and turns of phrase or interesting words or ideas.

As an insight into the terrible mess of my brain, here is a selection:

Lord Wallace of Tankerness is asked if he knows of a case of suicide in a young offenders' institution and responds, “I associate myself with expressions of regret” - [House of Lords, 24/1/12; col. 987.]

Page 21 of A Bullet in the Ballet (1937) refers to “con. men” - NB the full stop.

Do we know what we vote for? Have we read the manifestos, interrogated the data and understood the arguments? Generally, no; we are lazy. We buy newspapers and follow Twitter accounts that confirm our opinions. We avoid complex or counterintuitive issues and the testament of evidence in favour of the glib and easy. We elect a smile, a soundbite, a cipher, not a problematic and uncertain truth. Rule so we don't have to think about it – that is your mandate, nothing more.

Doctor Who - The City in the Clouds ([Rough idea for a Companion Chronicle set in Season 1, but beaten to it by clever Jonny and his Voyage to Venus)
In space, maybe on zeppelins linked together to create a city in the temperate zone on Venus – a city in the clouds.
All a bit Dan Dare (which Ian has read, confiscated from his pupils), and they realise that this futuristic world is in the early 17th Century, the same time as Galileo is on Earth recording the phases of Venus for the first time.
Barbara falls in love and Ian has to take her back to the TARDIS (he uses her mum Joan to convince her to leave). Her lover will think she died.
They have to get down to the planet's surface – the hottest place in the Solar System – to recover the TARDIS. Need local people's help. They don't use money there, it's all about reputation and respect – like crowdsourcing, or your number of followers on Twitter. So the Doctor and Susan etc. have to be storytellers, scientists, busking their way in the society, getting themselves known – and only for the right reasons. Loss of face can ruin everything. That's where we meet them at the start of part one, the Doctor as a Punch and Judy man.
[Before I knew about Jonny's story, I realised that was too much like Patrick Troughton's role in The Box of Delights before I knew Matt Smith would do some Punch and Judy business in The Snowmen.]

Video going round of a guy mocking iPhone users for taking photos of their food. We're often fooled into thinking we're part of something because we consume it. There are all the tweets and fan activity involved in watching a TV show (a passive experience), or the adverts that sell the idea that by eating a burger or drinking a fizzy drink we're part of the Olympics.

After the accident, people would say to him, 'Do you dream you'll walk again?'
And he would consider – as if it were the first time he'd been asked – then say, 'No, only of being able to fly.'

We used to tease her
That in the freezer
Below the croquettes and fish fingers and peas
She kept the bodies of one or two geezers
Who thought they'd got lucky
When she invited them home.

But we were very wrong -
It wasn't one or two.

Something inside her
Moved like a spider
Spinning them in and dispatching them
Then cooking them up for her guests
Despite her reservations that these men
Could be counted as fair trade.

She liked the big-boned ones
Who made lewd remarks
And promised not to treat her respectably.
Their steaks were good for marbleising
And she saw putting them on the menu
As a service to women her age.

Rewatching The Snowmen. Why does Madame Vastra look a bit different from how she did in A Good Man Goes To War? She's a lizard and sheds her skin, so looks a little different after each shedding. (Also, it's considered rude to point that out.)

Billy Connolly, interviewed by Mark Lawson, describes “middle class” as “the kind of people who had dressing gowns as children”.

Michael Rosen on Radio 4's Word ofMouth investigating stenography and Hansard (in the Commons). Stenography machines are phonetic and you press keys simultaneously. Need 200+ words a minute to be accurate and keep up with speech. Some stenographers are certified to 250 words. The quality is “down to a price, not up to a standard”.

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