Monday, 28 March 2011

Wow! Crazy weekend in one of my favourite cities, nice to see through all the shiny, shiny steel and glass, it hasn't changed too much. Enjoying a glass of chilled wine at a pavement bar, a scally swaggers past "This must be (beat) one of these cosmopolitan places you hear about, where you can drink wine in the sunshine" sounded like the lyrics from The Farm circa 1987. Later we fought for a seat among the well dressed crowd in Alma de Cuba, a bar in a converted Baptist church, drinking Cuba Libre under the stained glass windows and trying to avoid whiplash from the dancers tassles or injuries from the fantastic false lashes of the girl sat next to me.

It was good to meet up with friends and tour our old haunts, drowning out the historical commentary on the open topped bus tour as we pointed out places we remembered, and in our lives, have loved them more. (Beatles quote). For the She Who Dares girls I took a spin on the Liverpool wheel, despite my fear of Ferris wheels, and spotted an activity we plan to do soon - water zorbing - but in the freezing water of the Albert Dock?! More challenges followed on the Sunday, my other half completed the Liverpool half marathon with his sister and our friend, his preparation involved all the delights the city has to offer in the drinking and culinary departments, as well as tourist stop offs and pavement pounding, as he commented "I bet the Kenyans don't train like this."

Despite the babylon of shopping, steps, sculptures, art and culture, Liverpool still doesn't take itself too seriously, which is why it will always have a special place in my heart. If you haven'tt been there - go - enjoy - just keep your wits about you, unlike the Russian sailor we encountered in the street on Saturday night who's only English was "My ship is over there", hope he found it again.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

And it's good Nighy from me..

Sunday saw me embarking on a new adventure. Probably out of my depth, I waited nervously in a queue outside the venerable establishment of the Cambridge Union Building, for entry to the BAFTA hosted event, a LIfe in Pictures with Bill Nighy. I had reason to be especially anxious, a few years back I wrote a screenplay and had him in mind to play one of the principal characters. All through development it was Bill's voice and mannerisms I heard bringing the character of Zachary Pender to life. This was my last chance to get the script to him personally.

My daughter and I planned our ambush, we found our seats at the end of the second row of burnished leather benches, banked across the oak floor from the opposite rows, now filling with fresh faced and eager students. My clammy hands gripped the folder containing my script, and I spent the entire time in a state of heightened anxiety, waiting for my chance. The chamber resembled the House of Commons, and I felt like a back bencher at Prime Ministers Question Time.

Despite the adrenaline coursing through my veins, I did enjoy the evening. Bill Nighy is one of the most enduring and versatile actors of his generation, a charming, debonair man, who swept into the hall in a pale blue suit, eyes twinkling behind large rimmed glasses. He entertained with a lifetime of anecdotes, tales of how he came to acting from a family of car mechanics. He didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps and had his head turned by a girl who got him into the Guildford School of 'Prance and Murmer' , where he learnt very little. Except perhaps the ability to make a move called a bananna, curving across the stage from one point to the other. Directors have asked him since if he's drunk on set, but it's his laid back and laconic natural attitude. Despite disparaging the 'craft' of acting, all the film clips shown displayed his considerable talent for it. Bill wouldn't watch, he crept down in his wing backed chair as if he wished the floor would open up. What galvanised him eventually as an actor, was the realisation he was doing it for a job and sometimes he would need to behave beyond the call of duty. He referred to his time as Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean as 'the squid', and described his discomfort through the first days of shooting, dressed in a baggy black outfit, covered with white velcro bobbles in front of a green screen, when he was introduced to Johhny Depp: "Probably the most Beautiful man in the world, and I was dressed as Andy Pandy." He described his respect for writers "It's all about the writing".

Given encouragement by these words as the actor took his bow I rushed after him, shaking the hand of a man who'd shaken the hand of Johnny Depp, he was gracious enough to accept the script. Lets hope he didn't leave it on a table somewhere, and that he'll find the time to read it.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


Apologies for the bad editing, I'm still getting to grips with imovie, had the idea to do the same thing with some She Who Dares video clips, but I missed what would have been rich material at this mornings sessions, due to a case of knackerdom and the calling of a warm bed, not much in the SWD spirit!


Sat by the cold Thames on the South Bank, released after an hour plus of standing like a vertical sardine on the underground, I looked down at the murky water from my concrete perch, and wondered who would swim here? David Walliams is swimming the length of the Thames for Comic Relief. I will enter the waters myself later this year, in a 750m swim at Marlow. I hope the weather is kinder than today, when everyone is wrapped up against the cold. A scattering of people make their way across the pedestrian bridge next to Waterloo, fold up bikes, Boris Bikes and mountain cycles flash past in the shadow of the London Eye. Westminster squats, watching, from down river. A busking band strikes up a merry melody, Oh Susannah, and I shuffle off to the welcoming warmth of the BFI cafe, where I can watch the river scenes unfold from behind glass with a strong black coffee, contemplating a dip for another day.