Friday, December 31, 2010

Catching up

Blimey. 2010 has been a bit of an old sod, all told. Having had next to no work for most of the summer, things suddenly got a bit manic in the last few months. Hence the lack of blogging. What follows is a splurge of me trying to catch up, more for my own future interest than yours.

My day job since September has been at Doctor Who Adventures, which has been a joy. It's quite a trek into the office and back - especially when there's any hint of weather - but that's given me lots of time for reading, which I'll try to blog about in the next few days.

At the end of November, the Dr and I jetted off to the States so I could spend the weekend showing off at Chicago TARDIS. Had a brilliant time - and the Dr made her debut on a convention panel, too. As always, there was too little time to natter with some very good friends and it was all over too quickly. But Graceless - which me, Ciara Janson and Laura Doddington were there to flog - seemed to go down well.

I also got a copy of Running Through Corridors by my chums Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke, in which they watch all of black-and-white Doctor Who, two episodes per night. It's a pleasure to be in their company anyway, and the book is full of smart insights and jokes. It helps that Rob's a professional writer (he wrote for Doctor Who on TV himself) and Toby a jobbing actor - that experience gives them more of an 'in' to the mechanics of the programme than many other guides.

My favourite bits were when the two authors disagree over something and where real life crops up as part of the diaries - when their (non-fan) spouses chip in thoughts, or where the authors tell us about personal links to the stories. It's also fun just seeing how they juggle the watch round conventions and train journeys and things: the everyday minutiae of being a fan, fitting the programme around real life. Can't wait for the next volume.

After the convention, the Dr and I bussed up to Madison, Wisconsin to stay with some friends. We poddled round Madison and ate huge burritos, but mostly we spent the week loafing about. That was, sadly, quite a highlight of my year. I wrote two chapters of the Novel, read a fair bit and also did some thinking, which is a crucial part of being a freelancer and not something I've had much time for recently.

We returned to Chicago for one last night, and went out for a splendid dinner with T. All the time we were away we'd heard horror stories of the snow in London and how civilisation had collapsed. But on our last day the snow came down in Chicago - and it made not a jot of difference. We wrapped up warm and ventured out into the street, where the cars and buses and trains were all running just fine.

We caught the train down to the Museum of Science and Industry, where we had time to look round the U505 German submarine before going into Jim Henson's Fantastic World (runs until 23 January 2011).

Cor, that was fun. It's a comprehensive history of Henson's work, with many original sketches and puppets amid film clips and live performances. I'd seen a lot of the sketches before (in Jim Henson's Designs and Doodles - a Muppet Sketchbook), but its a very different thing then seeing clips of the realised creatures, shambling about.

I loved seeing Henson's non-Muppets work - his adverts, his documentaries, his experimental films. The producers of Sesame Street apparently brought him on board because they'd noticed that children were hooked on the speed and brightness of adverts. The Dr was much taken with the exhibition and is going to use it as the basis of some report thing she has to do at work.

As always, the museum shop was full of things we didn't want and had little that we did. So we made our way to the airport. Blimey, O'Hare Airport is a dreary place to sit for hours. There's little in the way of shops or distractions - you have to go back out of Passport Control for most things, and the one bar was the only place to ID me the whole time we were away.

But the plane home was pretty much on time and unencumbered by the snow. I watched Inception and Salt, neither of which really did anything for me. (On the way out, I watched Agora - featuring Rachel Weisz, and her nekkid bum in one bit - and Toy Story 3. The Dr cried at the sacking of the Library of Alexandria, I did not so much as sniffle at the toys. Honestly.)

Got home to find a crazy world of emails hollering for work. Since getting back I've written one play and pitched for four more - just as well I had that thinking time! The brother/boss also needed a final, final rewrite on our short film, having fixed the location.

Oh yes: we've made a film. Cleaning Up stars Mark Gatiss, Louise Jameson and lots of brilliant people, and was shot the weekend after I got back. I'd been working on the script since 2008 - and intensively over the last year, since Joseph Lidster signed up as script editor - but suddenly it was real, with a whole massive film crew. Mad and exciting, and I'm really rather proud of the brother/boss. He, producer Ben Greenacre and everyone else just worked wonders. I sort of stood in a corner and tried not to get in the way. There'll be plenty more about the film in the new year, sorry.

I also got to see Gatiss in Seasons Greetings - which is magnificently funny and runs til 13 March. And I've seen Harry Potter 7.1 twice. While I appreciate all Jonny's shrewd remarks, I still pretty much loved every second.

And then it's been working and working. The day job, some interviews, a comic strip or three, a magazine feature, a play and a world of pitches... It's feast or famine in this job, but all told, I'm knackered. Whited out on Christmas Day and went to bed with a migraine for most of the afternoon, then spent the next day carefully not doing anything. I start a part-time job in a couple of weeks that I'm hoping will make life slightly less fraught and more orderly.

Meanwhile, the Dr has been slaving away at the paperwork so that we can move house. And once that's done she can have a second cat - one she's already selected. Lots of changes in the air, and lots we have to do, but things are on the up... It's been a hell of a year, and I'm quite glad to see the back of 2010. But 2011 is already looking exciting. Let's see what can go wrong...

Thursday, December 23, 2010


And a very merry Christmas to you, too, Twitter.