Archive for the month “October, 2014”

I really meant it, Dave Gorman

Last night we went to see ‘Dave Gorman Gets Straight to the Point’ at the Wycombe Swan, which was absolutely brilliant and very funny (and Nick Doody was good too). When Dave Gorman showed us the emoticon his mother used in a text message, I was almost weeping with laughter. You’d have to have been there to understand the context. Afterwards we bought his book and had our photograph taken with him (see below).

Just before the photo was taken I mentioned to Dave Gorman that I was one of the contestants on his radio show ‘Genius’, many years ago. I’d submitted the idea that couples who have marriage guidance counselling should wear furry animal costumes as it would be harder for them to get angry with each other. I remember when it was recorded, Dave presented me with a parrot costume, and I put the head of it on, and he was in an animal costume himself of course so we could role play an argument, and the whole radio theatre erupted into laughter. Sid Waddell proclaimed me a Genius. It doesn’t get much better than that.

So there we were last night, at the Wycombe Swan and Dave Gorman actually remembered the show and was really nice about it, and I said to him, sort of as if I was joking, ‘it changed my life’. Then we had the photo taken and we didn’t want to take up his time as it was late at night and he’d been signing for ages, so we wished him well and went home.

But I didn’t say what I wanted to say to him, so I’ll say it here instead.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 08.39.16

(Left to right, Chris, Anita, Mr Dave Gorman, me, Russ)

On the night Sid Waddell called me a Genius, I was wearing the parrot head and I realised that everybody in the radio theatre had found my bizarre marriage guidance counselling idea funny.

My teen novel ‘Diary of a Parent Trainer’ was published by Scholastic in 2011, and I’ve had four more books published since. Anyway, my getting started as a children’s writer was partially inspired by that moment on ‘Genius’, it was a significant lightbulb moment when I realised that an idea from out of my head could actually make people laugh.

So this is a message for Dave Gorman:

When I said to you last night that being on ‘Genius’ changed my life, I wasn’t really joking. It sort of did. Thank you.

I love film

While I love to write, and really love to read, I am also an unashamed film buff. I am never happier than flitting about in ‘imdb’, the international movie database where you can find all the films a director you like directed or an actor you like acted in. I find myself remembering minor actors, and looking to see what they did next.

It’s absolutely fascinating. I think that the most successful actors are the ones who turn down a lot of parts, and hold out for the great directors and writers, and are intelligent enough (or their agent is) to know which directors and writers are the ones to work with.

Last week I was asked on Facebook to name fifteen films that have ‘stayed with me’. I ended up spending hours agonising over my list, before realized that I need a list of my 100 favourite films, not just a measly fifteen.

Here are some (of many) that did not make the cut, that I absolutely love: Grease, The Sting, Kings of New York, Zoolander, The Producers, This is Spinal Tap, Young Frankenstein, Groundhog Day, Some Like it Hot, Blazing Saddles, Withnail and I, The Blues Brothers, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Walk the Line (I love Johnny Cash), 2000 A Space Odyssey, Crossing Delancey, Thelma and Louise, Captains Courageous (Spencer Tracy), Jerry Maguire, Field of Dreams, An Affair to Remember, Station Junction, Schindler’s List, Thelma and Louise, All the President’s Men, The Graduate, The Birdcage, Malcolm, The Ladykillers, Sunshine, Anchorman, Sideways, Napoleon Dynamite, Submarine, Brief Encounter, anything by Hitchcock but my favourites are Dial M for Murder and Rear Window with the fantastic Grace Kelly, The Piano, The Dish, An Education, Hills of Home (one of the earliest Lassie films, set in Scotland), I Capture the Castle, Lantana, Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind (Jim Carrey at his best), Precious, Hotel Rwanda, Tin Men, Down by Law, anything with Audrey Hepburn, anything with Richard Dreyfuss. The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Oh yes, and Denzel Washington in The Pelican Brief, and Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption. Plus anything directed by Mike Leigh, especially Secrets and Lies in which Timothy Spall is magnificent.

I’ve also enjoyed the Hunger Games films and also Harry Potter films and the Lord of the Rings trilogy – all based on great books and an argument for the role of film in taking great stories and telling them in film to those who don’t read books.

So here is my ‘final fifteen’. These are the ones I’d want to be played on a loop if I am ever too old and forgetful to remember yesterday, because then I’d end every day with a big smile on my face.

  1. Fargo (quirky, brilliant, understated crime film)
  2. Cabaret (one of the cleverest films I’ve seen, the music echoing the storyline, especially that chilling scene with the boy singing ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’)
  3. Goldrush (the scene with Charlie Chaplin eating his own shoe is genius – this just pipped Laurel and Hardy’s ‘Way Out West’ and Chaplin’s amazing Modern Times)
  4. Hannah and Her Sisters (one of my favourite Woody Allen films – so many others like Annie Hall I love too)
  5. True Grit – the original with John Wayne (makes me cry every time).
  6. Apollo 13 (triumph over adversity)
  7. Like Father, Like Son (a fairly recent Japanese film, and one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen – going to buy it on DVD to lend to all my friends)
  8. The Apartment (Jack Lemmon, fabulous, funny, sad – and I chose it over Doris Day’s Pillow Talk, difficult decision)
  9. The African Queen (Humphrey Bogart, enough said – just trumped ‘The Philadelphia story’ also starring the wonderful Katherine Hepburn)
  10. Moonstruck (OK, I am an incurable romantic, but despite being a tiny bit dated this is also a very funny film with a lovely performance from Olympia Dukakis)
  11. Cinema Paradiso (couldn’t speak for an hour after watching this film – also have loved Life is Beautiful and Amelie and so many other wonderful European films)
  12. Hairspray (could watch again and again)
  13. Elf (just makes me laugh every time)
  14. It’s a Wonderful Life (it’s not Christmas without watching this)
  15. Monkey Business (the Marx Brothers on a cruise – what could possibly go wrong? Watch this film and see what all the comedians since have copied)

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