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A void in January

Updated: Jan 1

Always a strange month, January, more so this time round: waiting on “emptiness”, tampering with a couple of short story and feature ideas, and then out of the blue yesterday started working on a radio play inspired by a nightmare.Very odd, very difficult to think about (my own life, my many mistakes), but strangely easy to write; already written almost 7,000 words, but how much is useable?

Also this week I wrote to the production company responsible for “the 10 o’clock show” asking if I could contribute a few topical jokes on spec - they said no. In fact the woman I spoke to said passing on my email to the team would be, in her words, “illegal”. Blimey, I hope it’s good...

Started reading some William Saroyan short stories, bewilderingly fabulous, so amazingly “modern” – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 stands out so far.  Also been catching up on some great European movies – “Dogtooth” and “Gomorrah” both quite outstanding. With “emptiness”, I wanted to write a “European” novel; whether I’ve succeeded, time will tell...

Also just read possibly the worst feature of all time –about the “New Left” of Hampstead by Tanya Gold in the Sunday Times magazine. Every paragraph had at least one clumsy sentence, ugly phrase, laboured analogy, unquoted source, pointless detour, tasteless joke... dazzlingly putrid, almost magnificent in its awfulness. And this by a prize-winning feature writer? Incredible.

To end on a positive: last night I watched the story of Eric and Ernie, some of the best acting I’ve seen in years (including one of my idols, Mr Jim Moir), watching them work, and bomb, and work, and succeed... never give up, Mark, never mind what agents think, or readers, or editors, critics or your family: never give up. Because there is nothing else.

And finally, just because I’ve finally worked out how to embed videos into my blog: listen to Iggy Pop’s finest hour, pour yourself a glass of something toxic (people who stop drinking in January - of all months! - really are odd fish), then think of that insurance advert he’s now doing, and weep, weep, weep at what this system does to those of us he ephemerally loves...

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