Squeezing the words out

It’s been a while since my last update, which is down to a number of factors but is mostly because writing has felt like a chore.

The BBC’s sitcom competition closes in a week and I have been desperately bashing the keyboard in the hope that a prize-winning entry will fall out of it. It took two years to develop Penny Dreadful. A mere 10 days is all that Sweet Charity is getting.

For a while, when I lived in Norwich, I worked in a shop – a fine purveyor of incense, candles, and DIY home witchcraft supplies called Inanna’s Festival. At the end of a long day explaining how crystals get rutilated and helping punters choose between 36 different types of tarot deck I really didn’t have any appetite for shopping. The idea of peering through artistically-arranged shop windows, browsing among shelves heaving with choice goodies and maybe indulging in a little light retail therapy was, frankly, not very appealing after a day behind a counter.

So it is with writing. In the same way that I couldn’t write fiction when I was working as a newspaper journalist, it appears I can’t write journal entries while I’m writing fiction. And I can’t even fill the gap by listing all the things I did today because, for the most part, what I do is stay in the flat and stare despairingly at a keyboard.

I have done a few things, all of them interesting in one form or another. For example, I’ve read some books. Woo-hoo, go me. If you haven’t read it, I recommend The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K Dick.

I went to Kingston, but that wasn’t very interesting. I got confirmation that I couldn’t go back to the Royal Mail, which was disappointing but not unexpected. I got a speeding ticket after tripping a camera near my parents’ house, which was likewise disappointing but not unexpected as I saw the camera flash at the time. I’ve looked for work. I went to see a sitcom being taped, which was painful for reasons which will be outlined later. It was the second series of a Fast Show spin-off called Swiss Toni, and it was a great deal funnier than I expected. Here’s some of his quotes from the first series.

We went up north for a while, to the folks in Altrincham, for a 90th birthday gathering. As ever, it was a fine time with much al fresco dining and a few challenging debates on the nature of society. Oh, and this time there was Eurovision too. Here’s a prediction: Wild Dances, the modernised version of Carpathian mountain folk music peddled by the winner, Ruslana, will be the next Riverdance.

A while back, I mentioned I bruised my ribs falling off the boat. I’m now as sure as can be that I did a bit more than that – I seem to have cracked one hitting the coping on the boat’s cockpit when I fell. Coughing’s unpleasant, so’s laughing (hence the problems at Swiss Toni, when I feared at one point I’d have to leave) but worst of all is sneezing, which feels like being kicked by a builder with steel toecapped boots and a bad case of attitude.

Finally, this may just be a promotion for the jewel-heist movie Oceans 12, but if it isn’t you can close nominations for the 2004 “saw it coming a mile off, I could have told you that would happen” awards – nothing will beat Jaguar at the Monaco Grand Prix today. Each of their cars had a $250,000 diamond embedded in the nose cone as a sponsorship deal. Christian Klien crashed before he’d even completed one lap, wrecked his car’s nose, and the team says the diamond hasn’t been seen since. Wombats.