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Sunday 8th June 2014


The heat is on, the time is right. It's time for you, for you to play your game!

People are coming, everyone's trying, trying to be, the best that they can

They're going for, going for Gold!

Sorry, I just wanted to put, "The heat is on" but I got carried away. I am very much at the stage of the play writing that I am overcome by nausea and wishing I hadn't agreed to do this. Hopefully in two or three weeks I will feel glad I've taken on the challenge. But just now it feels like I have made a terrible mistake. To be fair I have felt like this at this stage of every writing project I've undertaken, but that doesn't make it any easier. Or help me to shake the feeling that this time I have over reached myself. I actually did the best work of the week so far today, but it feels like I am edging towards my goal much too slowly. To continue the Going for Gold theme, I am playing catch-up. (I wonder if Henry Kelly is available to play Yusupov).

It's been said that writing is all about application, applying your arse to your chair and that is definitely true. My natural impulse is to flee from my desk and I am up on my feet and down the stairs every two minutes. If I force myself to stay put then I will write something. Even if it's awful rubbish, it's better than nothing. But my arse wants to run free and not be forced face down on to a chair, even if it's a nicely upholstered one. Overcoming my internal editor is the other big problem. He should really wait until a draft is completed before he sticks his oar in, but he's there to pass comment on every single word. And if the word is not good enough he won't let me progress. All logic says I should complete a terrible and clanking first draft and then start the refining process. But my haughty editor insists all is perfect before I move on. I have managed to banish him from the blog writing process, as you will have noticed, and that freedom means that amongst all the filler and shit, I will occasionally fly and find a great idea nestling in the dusty corner of my brain. Why can't I do that with scripts? I should sack him, but he's nearly 47 and I worry he wouldn't be able to get another job now.

I was distracted from the job in hand, but at least in a constructive way, as I had to go up to Camden to appear at the excellent Z List, Dead List this afternoon. Performers have to champion a dead person who is not as famous as they could be in a contest to find out which dead person is best. I chose Felix Yusupov, so at least this might be a chance for me to summarise what I was trying to get across in the play. Surely I knew enough about him now to wing this.  The other dead nominess were pirate Mary Reid, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Pompeiian citizen Caecilius (from off the Cambridge Latin course that I had loved as a teenager). The other acts had slides prepared and were passionate and articulate. I had made a few notes on the tube over and found myself tripping over my tongue a bit and forgetting most of what I wanted to talk about. It went OK, but I was disappointed that I didn't convey the story better. This is a warning for me that I can't just leave the play-writing til the end of July and then just go on stage and try to busk the story.

But the sickness in my stomach and the terror of embarrassment and failure should hopefully do their job and forge something solid from the sprawling mass of abstract thoughts in my stupid old head.

I took the evening off to have dinner and a film with my wife. We saw the X-Men: Days of Future Past (making it a day dominated by letter-based entertainment - and from the arse end of the alphabet), which was enjoyable, but threw up all kinds of Gary Sparrow type questions about time travel. Both Ian Mckellern and Patrick Stewart would make excellent Yusupovs. I doubt either of them have much on. If anyone knows them could you ask them if they fancy doing the Edinburgh Fringe this year?

If you want to get your name in this year's Scope programme then you need to donate at least £15 (the more you give, the bigger your name) on my justgiving page by close of play on the 9th June. You will also be sent a signed and numbered, limited edition programme provided you email me your address. Whatever name you put in the box on the page will be what appears in the programme. Thanks for your support.

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My new stand up show, Oh Frig I'm 50 is at on tour from February til June 2018. There's also a new series of RHLSTP with recordings every Monday from February 5th to April 2nd All details of shows here.
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