Archive | November, 2012

Scurlock 11 – grassroots Democracy

12 Nov

I am currently speed writing as I am about to be thrown out, not literally, of my local library computer room as there is a computer class starting here in the next ten minutes.

But I shall not complain. Most libraries were set up by subscriptions of ordinary working men and women who wanted a public educational resourse for the whole community. Can’t afford a book, play etc? go to the library. Want that library shut down and replaced by a coffee shop or car park? Vote conservative/liberal.

In the spirit of the early working class founders of the library movement, I continue to respect the way that National Theatre Wales gives a platform to ordinary people, working, non-working, students, parents, and various combinations of the above to express themselves and they;re emotions through performance and writing.

Better go, the library man is staring at me and I believe will give me short shrift if I attempt hostile badanage with the fellow. No! stop it! Get off! I’m typing, I’m typi

Scurlock 10 – Writers Block

12 Nov

You sit. You open the A4 refill pad you just bought especially from ‘notepads anonymous’, knowing you’ve got cupboards bursting with notepads of various sizes. You stare at the blank page. You look around at the people chatting away about grandsons, leggings, vim and pneumonia and you look back at the page. Stretch the arms behind the head. Shake the writing hand pretentiously as if you’re about to write Wales’ answer to Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Nothing. You sit. You stare.

A word, just one word to begin, that’s all you want! Is it so much to ask in this day and age of reality TV that you, just you, could write something that others might find worthy enough to read. Or that you could write just for yourself, the tastes of others being a secondary concern at most? Nothing. You sit. You stare.

1st person, 3rd person, dark or humourous? Humourously dark or violently thrilling? Just that one word to get you going. Found it! The word is Kevin! No!…not Kevin! Who starts a story with the word Kevin?! I don’t know anyone called Kevin. I have known Kevin’s, even worked with one, but to call a Kevin a soul mate is beyond my present facebook status.

‘The rain hammered down as the detective looked through the dusty blinds at the neon signs below’. AAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!! what’s wrong with me?!

Maybe I should calm down, write Scurlock 10, promote my ‘Dawn of the Dave’ ebook at the Amazon Kindle store, post it to NTW, march out of the café with my pen held high and yell: ‘If I wasn’t so introverted, I’d be yelling right now!’, march out of the café and go into another café to get some unsatisfying food I can feel guilty about later.

‘Dean walked into a café with a notebook and pen. She was waiting under the clock…’ – I give up, I almost do.

Looking for inspiration today? Go out and do something, anything, that you hadn’t planned to do today, even if it’s going to a café. Listen to people. Learn from them. Find that opening line. It’s out there.

Scurlock 9 – Dirty Protest at National Theatre Wales

12 Nov

One of the greatest achievements of the ruling class could be said to be their ability to make the working class ashamed of itself. MTV’s shameful ‘The Valley’s’ has young people representing the worst stereotypes of the working class that our so called ‘betters’ can throw at us. Violent. Alcoholic or border line. Drug taking. Fake tanning. and on and on and on.

Another perpetrator is Channel 4’s Shameless and I leave readers of this message to comment further on that dribble of…

 

Dirty Protest, which you can join via NTW group website, offered an alternative look at working class and generally ‘valleys people’. I grew up in the valleys and the grandparents and great aunts and uncles that surrounded me were good, humourous, honest, proud, hard-working people who believed that everyone should be given a fair start in life. My father grew up in a house where his father banned all alcohol, except in the pub of course.

 

South Wales. Rebecca Riots, The Merthyr Riots, Dic Penderyn, The Chartists, 500 miners going to Spain in the 1930’s to fight Fascism whilst dozens of women-led support groups in the Valleys would send aid packages to families in Spain suffering under Franco’s Jackboot, Nye Bevin, Cardiff Coalition to Defend Asylum Seekers, Bridgend Stop the War Group, The Miner’s Strike, mass marches against the fascist BNP in the 90’s and post-millenium,… The list goes on. But this is not the valleys that MTV want’s to portray. But thankfully there are groups like Dirty Protest willing to give a real voice to the real people of the Valleys.

Scurlock 8 – No Pasaran!

12 Nov

Recommended Play: The Resistable Rise of Arturio Uri – Brecht

Recommended Novel: Much Obliged, Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse

 

The following views are my own and I welcome constructive debate.

 

In 2001 I went to see a play at Chapter Arts Centre in Canton, Cardiff called ‘Franco’s Bastard’ and I’d be grateful if someone could remind me of the author’s name. This told the story of a Wales Free Army leader so deranged with visions of becoming the first Fuhrer of Wales that he couldn’t see that ordinary people, on the mass, did not share his views. Add to this the belief that he was the natural successor, biologically as well as politically, to that butcher Francisco Franco, added to the pathetic nature of this character.

 

Following the latest victory over homophobia in the courts last week that decided a couple were breaking the law by denying a double bed to a same-sex couple in their B&B, decency-botherer Nick Griffin, leader of the crumbling neo-Nazi BNP, twittered that we should support the bigotry of the B&B couple and even threatened the same-sex couple with attack by publishing their full address and warning ‘a visit’ was imminent.

(The fact that this buffoon can even spell is a miracle.)

 

Wales has a proud tradition of resisting and standing up to Fascism and racism in our streets, workplaces, places of education and homes. Theatre has assisted in this fight, producing powerful indictments of creatures like Griffin and Franco, showing that we should look to history to see how even the lowest of human beings can rise up and destroy the hopes and lives of millions. if anyone knows of, or has written, or is writing any such plays that may be coming out soon, please let me know.

Scurlock 7 – Stories from the Streets

12 Nov

Recommended Novel of the Week – The Star’s Tennis Balls by Stephen Fry
Recommended Play of the Week – Withnail & I by Bruce Robinson (£3 in HMV)

I’ve just finished my fourth GCSE Maths lesson and must admit that, although stimulating dividng ratios can undoubtedly be, I did start falling asleep half way through. I’m resitting this after 19yrs believing that, having 8 GCSE’s, 4 A-Levels and a Law degree (ooh, ain’t you clever! You’ll be a scholar you will!), there is something missing.

The only time I’ve fallen asleep in the cinema was during a film that I would advise jno one to see and is so bad that it hasn’t even moved into the status of ‘cult movie that’s so bad it’s good). I speak of the Super Mario Brothers movie of the early 1990’s, a crying shame not only because of plot but becuase it starred otherwise watchable actor Bob Hoskins. Not even a Roxette single could save this arse dribble of a film.
The feeling that something is missing is, I believe, the spur that drives forward all writers, whether novelists, poets, playwrites, essayists, journalists etc, the feeling that there’s one more story that’s inside, that needs to be teased out like a stubborn egg up a distressed chickens bum.

Stories from the Streets was a wonderful experience and I found the supermarket sketch and the Grandfather sketch particularly moving, (not taking anything away from the other participants).

So if you’re looking for inspiration this week, throw out your Super Mario Brothers Movie DVD, lock yourself in the shed with the script of Withnail & I and the finest wines known to humanity, and like the formerly distressed chicken, let it all flow out of you.

(Still available – Dawn of the Dave (by Dean Scurlock)- Amazon Kindle Store for 75p)

Scurlock 6

12 Nov

Recommended Book: Pigs Have Wings by P.G. Wodehouse

Recommended Play: Naked by Mike Leigh

 

Having reached my mid-late thirties and pleased that I have so far avoided the vain temptations of the five shades of brown offered by Just4Men, my deluded belief that I am merely in my late youth pushes me to make some comments on the past few decades of existence that you are free to ignore, disagree with, and/or comment on:

  1. Fair weather friends: whether it is at college, school, university, societies, political parties or work, we often come across people who, at first, seem cool, chilled out or interesting enough for us to go ‘I MUST be their friend!’. Unfortunately, this illusion can sometimes dribble away like treacle off a zebra’s back when you discover that this person, whom you may have shared traumas and secrets with, is little more than an arse. (Apologies if language offends). This should not be a reflection on you for making friends, but a lesson in being more discerning in the future. Do not take any more abuse from this fair weather friend – you are in control.
  2. Television: When criticised by the right wing press for spending too much on new drama or arts programming, there seems to have sprung up in the last few years a tendency to cow tow to the criticism by broadcasters, leading them to promise to cut spending in these areas. In the 1990’s for instance, the BBC would often give new writers a free hand in what they wrote and produced. Do they still do this? Are we condemned to flick through Freeview channels night after night wondering ‘shall I watch:

(A) Peter Andre fly-fishing with chimps

(B) Big Brother: Mensa challenge

(C) Keith Lemon vandalises a Suffragettes grave

(D) The Valleys

(E) I’m a non-entity, Get me a new contract!

(F) Putting my foot through the screen of the TV in frustration…on ice

 

Television and radio were created to bring culture, be it drama, comedy, plays, musicals, dance, opera, concerts etc to the mass of people in this country, most of whom cannot afford to nip off to the West End and see a show, or are so knackered from working all day in the home or in workplaces that the idea of going to a play can be daunting.

The Only Way Is Essex, The Valleys, Geordie Shores etc are, in my opinion which anyone is free to disagree with and to ignore, an insult to the millions of ordinary people out there whose intelligence and attention-spans are so underrated that the broadcasters feed them mush like this.

 

(The Macilroy Chronicles – time travel in a Welsh Dresser – Amazon.co.uk kindle store – now for only 75p)

(Free Kindle app available to download to Laptop, PC or Mac if, like me, you’ve got better things to spend £110 on than a Kindle device.)

(What happened to tape Walkman’s, they were great. And VHS – am I supposed to just re-buy the Lord of the Rings films on DVD just because some CEO…)

Scurlock 5 – MTV’s ‘The Valleys’

12 Nov

Ah, ‘The Valleys’! An in-depth commentary on the everyday lives of…wait a minute. Scrub that. Ah yes, I know. A travesty of right-wing reality post-modernism where ordinary people are to be portrayed as inbred, feckless idiots whilst being held up as an example of everyone else in their ethnic, geographic, or class category.

‘The Valleys’  – a good indication of valleys people and daily lives? Yes, if you also believe that The Sun newspaper is a champion of feminism and The Daily Mail is a promoter of good race relations.

 

I grew up in the village of Blackmill, part of the Ogmore Valley. You’ll find it about two miles to the right of McCarthur Glen Outlet, Bridgend, if heading towards Swansea. ‘The Valleys’ is a direct insult to all those people I grew up with, to the great aunts and uncles and grandparents, helping to raise their youngsters with dignity, with a sense of self-respect and a belief in the adage ‘never let the b#”%* get you down.’

 

Since moving to Cardiff over a decade ago I’ve noticed that there is a tragic two-way misunderstanding of either community. In conversations with both sides, the Cardiffians often see Valley’s people and their children as backward, uneducated and single-parents in waiting who speak like Stacey West from ‘Gavin and Stacey’. On the reverse, Cardiffians are often viewed as arrogant, criminal, vitamin deprived yokels with strange scouse-welsh accents.

 

If like me you see both views as abhorrent prejudice then I ask you all to boycott ‘The Valleys’, to bombard MTV with letters, emails of complaint, and ask yourselves why so much air time is given to rubbish like this, and so little is given to decent, new drama that, from my time on this site, it is obvious that the members of NTW produce in abundance.

 

(75p – Dawn of the Dave – Amazon comedy ebook – excellent for halloween and Christmas – download free kindle app from amazon kindle store. – please buy the book and leave constructive comments.