December Giggle Blog.

Where Alan gets a dog. Now, remember back in the springtime, my plan to get a dog for his birthday fell flat, and he gave me a list of ten reasons why it wasn’t a good idea, and he was right of course, well, this is an antidote to that.

Our Son was off to work, so Alan went out to move our car to let him out. A few minutes earlier, he’s said, ‘shall we go for a lie down?’ Sometimes we go for a nap as I go out early, and he comes in late, so we have a spare hour or two together middle of the day. As I was waving our Son off to work, he was looking worried, and making a great show of pointing something out to me. It was raining, and nasty, but I ran out to see whether it was the wheelie bin tipped over in the wind, or something.

Alan was waiting for him to go, so that he could put our car back on the drive, and there was this huge rottweiler plodding down the street on his own. Not being able to resist a lonely dog, our Son jumped out of his car, and was fussing him. We know the dog; he goes in the shop down the road, (which was where he was headed by the look of it), for jelly babies, with his owner. We told our Son not to worry, and go to work, as it was nearing his start time, though he only works five minutes away.

Our car was still running, with the door open. Next minute, the hippo of a rottie heaved itself into our car, and sat on the passenger seat, filling two thirds of the front of the car. As it was raining, I thought I’d better go in, and Alan was stuck with this enormous wet dog on the front seat. What could we do? other than bring him in. From our front room, the sight of Rottie sitting happily in the front of the car, and Alan reversing up the drive was so funny I was hysterical…

Alan must have thought in the few minutes of reversing up, that he’d take the dog home. So, he went driving up the street, looking for the home of his new best friend. It crossed my mind, if anyone was passing who knew us, they might be saying, ‘Oh, that Suzy’s gone to look rough these days.’ Alan tells me all he could see was a big slobbering face, and doleful eyes inches from his face.

He found where the dog lived, but high gates were locked, so goodness knows how he got out. The neighbour told us the owners wouldn’t be back until 5 o’clock, it was only 3 o’clock by now. We asked if they’d take him in, but they said, ‘Oh, no, it won’t come to us. So, Alan brought him home. When he opened the car door, the dog wouldn’t get out. He was soaked, and had cronky joints, so he wanted to keep dry I think.

Eventually, we coaxed him out with some ham from the fridge. I dried him off, and he looked hungry. We got an old washing up bowl from the garden, and he drank 3 of those full of water, in a few minutes. Alan went off to the shop to get him a tin of meat. He returned with a bag of jelly babies, a couple of beers for himself, and chocolate for me. I said, ‘Did you get him any meat?’ That’s what he’d gone down for, but forgot. He said, ‘We were going for a lie down if you remember, only a while ago, now all of a sudden, we’re dog sitting for the afternoon.’

The dog, who we know is called Jacob, was so good, and took turns to lie by me, or go and watch Alan, with great big eyes that Alan swears were saying, ‘Thank you for looking after me.’ A man came to call for him, later, and said, ‘Thanks’ and couldn’t understand how he’d got out. A couple of nights later, a lovely lady came knocking on the door, and said, he’s called Jacob, because he’s crackers, he is her special baby, and she was so pleased he’d been safe. She gave us flowers and wine to say ‘thanks.’ At one point, he was lying on the floor, gazing up at our pictures, and beams, as if to say, ‘hmmm, I could get used to this’. He was cute, and I haven’t laughed so much for ages….. RottieAlanThe dog filled two thirds of the front of the car, then after a while, he jumped into the back, and lay down. A funnier sight I’ve never seen. That’s up in the Welsh mountains by the way, we live on a main road, in the middle of the Midlands. That’s why we couldn’t leave the big dog to roam incase he got run over. Digital imageOur eldest Son has been housesitting down in Torbay as well. I say as well, because we were dog sitting. With his house sit, a European student was included, who he had to keep an eye on, and cook tea for. I asked him if he was doing pasta, and broccoli bake with tuna and cheese sauce, things like that. He said, yes; and he also told his sister that he was relaxing in this massive house, watching footie, and having a beer, when the lad came in and began playing Motzart on the piano. Talk about chalk and cheese. He said they got on alright though, and it’s done now. More giggles next month, and don’t you love the snow effect on here for December?

Coming soon, interview with Sheila Crosby.

Treacle Toffee & Poisoned Coffee, published this week.

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The fair has come to Redington.

Read episode one of my latest serial here…..

Part two is published on Wednesday, here.

Part three of the story is published here.

Part four of Treacle Toffee & Poisoned Coffee is here.

Part five is here.

The final episode is here…

The time slip story goes on throughout the week, and hope you enjoy it if you read it.

This is the seventh story in my Redington collection, and when there’s twelve, they will be

published in a book, called, ‘A Year in Redington.’

Sebastian and Claire are the two main characters in this story. It’s a story in 6 parts, and the main song going through the tale is Honeycomb, by Jimmie Rodgers, 1957.

Latest Redington story.

On Monday 24th November, my latest Redington story will appear on Creative Frontiers.

The story for this month is called, Treacle Toffee & Poisoned Coffee. A time slip story, and hope you

enjoy it if you tune in every day to see what happens. It is Sebastian and Claire’s story, and it begins

when they go to the winter fair that turns up in Redington.

Redington V11

Following on from my last post, Keith Lindsay has the answers to some of your questions as well….

Seems there are a couple of follow up questions so:

Who do I test my jokes on?

Welllll, firstly I don’t really write jokes, I write funny; that is I find humour in characters in a given situation and their reactions to it. As for testing it, I rely on my instinct, you can only really write what you find funny and hope there’s an audience for it. My opinion anyway.

Do you know who will play the parts of the characters before you write?
Or do you write with anyone in mind?

Hmmm, I feel the need for a multi-part answer: If you’re writing for someone else’s show then obviously you know the actors playing the parts, but that shouldn’t really influence your writing – it has more to do with the house style of the show than the actors strengths or otherwise.

If, as in the case of Birds of a Feather, the show is being written with particular actors in mind then maybe consideration is given to what the actor can bring to the part. That said I’m of the opinion that you should write parts actors will want to play not parts they can play.

Finally unless I’m asked to write for a specific person I really never have anyone in mind when I create characters, I prefer to produce the most interesting and funny character I can with their own voice as opposed to hearing only one actor in my head. I mean why limit yourself to one when there are so many to choose from, bit like pick and mix.

Thanks all for the kind comments.

Keith

Now for the December giggle blog, this is a funny one. It was so funny to me, I was in our front window wishing

I had some of those protective pants. those you wear when you get to a cetain age, because I laughed so much it

was a time for crossing legs. And why didn’t I take a picture? Because I might have had my camera chucked over the

hedge, maybe………. that’s at the beginning of December, and involves a rottweiler dog, a big fat hippo sized one.

I came on the longlist of the Alfie dog competition, and good luck to all on the shortlist. Sadly I didn’t make it to that one.

Now to round up my story, and get it finished in time for Monday…………………………………….. and it now has a dog following Lynne Hackles advice on Creative Frontiers.

Welcome, Keith Lindsay.

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Keith Lindsay

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Keith Lindsay was my writing tutor, when I attended Atherstone College in the mid-nineties. We were an informal group, and some took it more seriously than others. Now the thing that made Keith stand out from other tutors was his love of comedy, and the passion he gave to his way of teaching of the subject. A naturally funny man, but in a quiet modest way, I am bowled over to let you know that here’s here on my blog to tell us a bit more about his writing.

Q1/S. You told us in college, that you co-wrote ‘Birds of a Feather.’ Can you tell us how you got in to being half of the writing duo for this popular series? And are you still involved with the latest re-release of ‘Birds.’

A1K/ I actually co-wrote on Birds of a Feather, it was created and written by Marks and Gran who then proceeded to allow it to be team written; something quite unusual in this country at the time. How did we get onto the team? Well my writing partner Martin and I wrote a calling card script, we didn’t know it was a calling card script when we wrote it, we thought it was a dead cert to get made – ah the naivety.
However, the thing we did do right was to target certain people in the game who we thought might share our sense of humour – we sent out seven scripts and from that mail shot were invited down to LWT, as was, leading quickly to getting an agent and invited down to lunch with Lawrence and Maurice leading almost as quickly to Birds of a Feather. When I say invited, M and G’s letter actually started with ‘do they let you have sharp things in there’.
And no I am not involved in the newer series, nor are we since there technically isn’t a we anymore. It’s good to see it back since Birds was always an inclusive comedy; it wants to make as many people laugh as possible; it isn’t aiming for a certain niche.

Q2/S. How was it, writing with John Sullivan on Green green grass? What would you say was the one thing that stood out about him?

A2K/ Writing with John was one of the most amazing times of my life, I learned so much, I laughed so much and being in the studio listening to real people really laughing reminded me why I’d become hooked on the genre in the first place. And they were real people and they were really laughing, no one was whipping, bullying or cajoling them into it despite what some would say about audience comedy.
You’re asking me to pick out one thing that stood out about one of the greatest comedy writing talents in the sit com world!? How? I could go on for pages, but I’ll try: John was one of life’s observers: he watched, he studied and more importantly he remembered, or he made notes. He once showed me a crumpled slip of paper he carried around in his wallet for years, it said ‘don’t forget Batman and Robin’. Del Boy was based on people he’d grown up with. John was simply wonderful at storing up people, stories, events, ideas for years and then finding the exact moment to unleash them. And that was only part of John’s genius.

Q3S/ Do you write scripts for stand-up comedians, like Ken Dodd, for instance, or John Bishop? If so, do you get any credit for it, or are you like a ghost comedian?

A3K/ I have written stand up material for comedians; Rik Mayall, Frankie Howerd and a Japanese comic called Zen Jiro, and I pray at least he’s still alive. Credit for it? I think not good lady. If you get paid that’s enough, besides comedians like to look as if they’re just making it all up.

Q4S/ What are you working on at the moment? And how many re-writes would you do for a script?

A4K/ At present I have two original sit com scripts doing the hurry up and wait dance at certain broadcasters, a third I am re-writing should either of them turn into a case of ‘what else have you got’ and am about to begin work on a whole new sit com script – something of a lazy bugger you see.

When it comes to re-writes there are a couple of different types: there’s the re-writes you are asked to do by producers, development executives and the office tea boy after you think you’ve already got the perfect script and those can be legion; then there’s the re-writes you do for yourself.
Now I know the received wisdom is that all writing is re-writing but I don’t tend to do too many of the latter for a couple of very good reasons – firstly I make sure that I know my characters inside out when I start writing and I construct characters in such a way that when my story gives them a choice to make it’s really only Hobson’s choice, they can only ever come to one decision because of who they are. Secondly, technically I re-write every day, that is I start over again on page one of the script so that I ease myself back into the situation and character, the writing is then also consistent since I am quite often in a totally different mood from day to day; thus it means that in the end the majority of the script has had anything from two or three re-writes to fourteen or more re-writes on an average first pass.

Q5S/ Has comedy writing changed over the years and If so, how is it different now?

A5K/ I’m pretty sure you knew I would answer yes when you wrote this question – so yes! Comedy has changed because the world has changed – we have access to all human knowledge now, and to much disinformation too, a pity since in less informed times writers would be able to offer us a window on a world we didn’t know, Porridge for example – in 1973 we were totally unfamiliar with the inner workings of prisons, the fly on the wall documentary had not shown us the reality yet. These days it’s pretty hard to show us something new, so that instead of a window writers seem to be expected to hold up a mirror to reflect the audience back at themselves.
And yes I know writers have always done that but there was a time where there was an art to it, as Alexander Pope put it ‘true wit is nature to advantage dressed, what oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed’. It just seems that much of what is considered comedy now is merely framed by the lowest common denominator in terms of characters and lines fed back to the audience. Ok rant over.

Q6S/ What would be your ideal script for the bbc? (That’s not including the ones you have written )

A6K/ Hhhhmmmm, I’m pretty sure they don’t really know themselves if you’re talking about something new and if I knew myself I’d be writing it not answering your questions.
What I do know is what it takes to give yourself the best chance to construct the ideal script and it’s something I try to impart when I run sit com writing workshops: character is everything and a well rounded but fatally flawed comic character is key for a start, then there are the supporting characters who should not be mere ciphers but equally rounded and exist not only in contrast with the main character but compliment him/her too. But I’m giving too much away for free, my agent will pitch a fit.
Let’s just say that I really enjoy running sit com workshops and seeing those wonderful light bulb moments when my guests see the simplicity of the structure from which many great shows have been made.
Is this enough now because my typing finger is getting tired?
http://www.thinkfunny.co.uk/2013/02/learn-sitcom-writing/
http://www.futermanrose.co.uk/lindsay.html
http://twitter@Keithrlindsay

Click on this link to get to the book.

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Coming soon, to this blog.

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On the 12th November, you are in for a treat, my lovely blog followers.

Coming soon, interview with Keith Lindsay, comedy script writer, and my former writing tutor.

He worked on Birds of a Feather, the original scripts, and more recently,

Keith worked on Green green grass with John Sullivan.

 

Birds of a Feather.

Green green grass.

Like my ususal author interviews, Keith will be answering 6 questions, and if anyone has any further questions on comedy writing, make sure you tune in on or after Wednesday.

My writing course in the local college lasted for a year where I learned such a lot from Keith, and have kept the folder of work. Some of the ideas in there I’m still working on and will send out. During that year, Take a Break published my first full length article, and other articles and poetry followed. So from working with him on that course, my writing path began.

Details of where you can find him and what courses he’s running will be in the blog post next week.

See you then………………………………………….

November Giggle blog.

Hi followers, hope you’re all enjoying the festivities, and not had too much pumpkin soup, or sweets left over from the trick and treaters.

My giggles for November are both from work. First mine. Our boss asked me and my colleague from Sunderland if we’d go in on a Sunday and do a cleaning job for a while. After some thought, we both said, yes. Off we went in the blue van, to the job.

blue vanNow as I’ve said before, it’s all codes and numbers and letters to punch in. The huge black gates have a box at the side, and she knew the number. We punched it in, and nothing happened. Tried it in reverse, nothing again. She was certain that was right, so unfortunately, we had to disturb our gaffer and ask what the code was. Turns out it was what she’d said, but with an E for enter at the end.

So, number is in, the massive black gate trundled open, I jump back in the passenger seat, and she is saying into her mobile, how we have now got the big gates open, while standing with her back to them. All of a sudden, I see the gates slowly trundling back again. I shouted, quick, they’re closing again. She couldn’t hear me as she was deep in conversation. I hollered,,,, quick, they’re closing. (Why I didn’t jump into the driver’s seat and drive through, I’m not sure, but then she’d have been outside, and me inside.)

She heard me after a minute or two, which was probably a second or two, but felt like minutes…. She shouted, “Eeee, ya bugga, they’re closing…….” We both screamed, jumped up and down a bit, and tried our newly known code into the box. It worked, and we quickly jumped in and drove through.

Second giggle comes from Alan’s workplace. He’s a janitor in a large supermarket. There was a leak from the roof, and it turns out that the cafe is upstairs, and it could have been from the dishwasher, or somewhere else. Ended up, they had a puddle the size of a lake, and it didn’t smell too fresh either…. He had other duties to see to, and when he came back, the workers had put lots of cardboard down, and it seemed to be soaking up the water, and already there was a mop bucket full. He had to stop a lady from filling it any more, as it was up to the top, and she was still squeezing a mop into it.

Then, happy to be going home, he announced… (now whenever he makes an announcement, the opposite happens, or else something disastrous.) … ‘the captain is now leaving the sinking ship.’ After that, he stepped on one of the cardboards, and skidded to the next one, and the next …. right up the length of an aisle, and ended up falling on his hands and knees.

He told me about that, and in bed that night, it was ages before he stopped laughing out loud at himself. He was doing that thing where he knew he’d laughed enough, and then I’d feel shoulders shaking and then the booming of laughter followed.

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It’s always a good thing to laugh at yourself isn’t it? What’s happened funny in your life lately?

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Coming soon 12th November…. exclusive interview with comedy script writer for the bbc…….. and my writing tutor for a year, some time ago…….