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.

 

Scurlock 4 – free ebook offer

12 Nov

Here’s the 1st chapter. Please buy the rest for 77p by typing ‘Dawn Dave Scurlock’ into amazon.co.uk. The 100th buyer will recieve a free copy of The Chronicles of Macilroy

 

Dawn of the Dave

 

December 23rd

Preface

 

‘Come on!’ I shouted, pointlessly it seemed, at the relatively new Digital Radio Sally had bought me for my birthday. It was being impertinent. It knows that I hate it when its signal plays up. But oh no, just to get at me, it was playing its little petty games again. ‘Work, you swine!’ I ordered, speaking straight into its speaker so that it could hear me better.

‘Reports…fishing and Naval fleets in the Atlantic Ocean…a peculiar weather front,… clouds of a colour and shape none of them have seen…remarkable medical benefits for these crews …Minor illnesses…cleared…matter of hours…old scars…disappeared after even the briefest exposure to the warm rain emanating from the cloud, which the Met Office…is equal to the size of France.

However, radio contact with the…lost in the last hour and communication experts are working to contact them…signal is operational but there appears to be no response from the crewmen…’

‘Damn it!’ I gave up and threw the radio into the empty fire place having taken considerable umbrage with the digital git. I’m a reasonable man but even I have my limits.

I switched on the television and, although initially distracted by ‘E.T. starting now’, I forced myself to switch the news channel on.

The bushy eye-browed anchor woman promised that we would probably get one of the worst thunder storms across Britain in almost sixty years as a result, but nonetheless the Met Office, in association with the General Medical Council, were urging members of the public to step outside during the storm and ‘soak up the benefits’ of this phenomenon which might never happen again.

Why couldn’t she report weather like they did when I was a kid? It’s Christmas for Pete’s sake! How about a bit of snow, huh?! Come on ‘Jennifer’, Jennifer the cocky news woman with that pretend sympathetic frown of yours as you tell me my evening is about to get totally flushed down the pan; give me a bit of hope, a silver-lining, a glimmer of light at the end of the thundery tunnel.

But you won’t, will you? No, not you. It’s all right for you, isn’t it? Tonight you’ll probably be locked inside a store cupboard with Clive from reception, both of you drunk on BBC Christmas staff party punch, fumbling in the dark for those soft, squelchy body parts that your wives and  husband’s should have exclusivity to. I doubt that you’ll even be able to hear the thunder from that stationary cupboard on the third floor, thrusting about like sad over-grown teenagers trying to forget that your hairs have gone grey and both your respective set of boobs, man and woman’s, have begun to irretrievably sag.

Well, I for one was not going to sit around waiting for the deluge to descend, health benefits or no health benefits. As James T. Kirk in the much maligned Star Trek 5 put it ‘I don’t want my scars taken away. I need my scars!’ Ah, Shatner, will the Academy never realise your brilliance?

I’ll just shout to Sally about the weather, I thought. She’ll probably moan. She seems to possess certain negativity towards life and the world in general that luckily I’ve never suffered from myself.

It’s sad really, but ever since my mother forced me to go to Sunday school when I was eight I’ve been afraid of rain storms. Noah and all that. Even if it starts spitting a bit I get a nervous feeling that sooner or later some old geezer with a long white beard and a super-inflated sense of self-importance is going to sail past me and head down the high street in some sort of Swedish flat-pack boat with storage space for even the most bulky of pachyderm.

So off I went to the basement. I had the portable flat-screen TV, the mini-fridge with mandatory chocolate and diet-cola (the perfect balance for the over-eater who just loves to lie to him/herself), and I’d have Sally for ‘company’. I’m uneasy about the term ‘company’ as I’m not sure you could define as ‘company’ a high-maintenance woman, six months pregnant and with mandatory pregnant-woman corresponding tetchiness, who is only coming down to the basement in the first place because she hates being left alone upstairs in a storm while I go off and ‘enjoy myself’ in my ‘little bloody man-den!’.

I swear to you, whoever said woman is at her most lovely during pregnancy is a git of the highest order and needs a good sharp kick in the shin.

I love my wife, so please don’t mistake my whinging for signs of a growing unease in the stability of our commitment to one another. It’s just that, if possible, I wish I could change her, not much, just a little. Sound’s awful, doesn’t it? They say men see the beauty of women and worship their general perfection and that its women who look at men, see their imperfections clawing at the surface and aim to change them. Not so with us. In Sally’s case I believe she gave up trying to change me years ago as I am, in her words (spoken so often) ‘a malignant, unreconstructed, unchanging git’. However, for myself, I still have a little hope that the better elements of her character can one day vanquish the other ‘arse’ elements that take just a little of the shine off my day now and again.

I could hear her grumbling on her way down to the basement, dragging our duvet with her. I thought that if I made her a tea she’d probably let me share it with her on that old couch I dragged down there the summer before.

 

Sally drifted off to sleep about an hour and a half later. She wanted to stay up for some programme with that skinny jean-wearing bloke, you know, all square glasses and mugs telling insecure people that they can avoid years of much needed therapy if only they would wear clothes from Debenhams with the right belt. He drives me mad. ‘What’s that m’ darling? You’re husband left you after you developed depression and gained two stone? Poor thing! I think I can help. Have you considered adding a fake gold broach to your day wear, topped off with some killer heels?’

It was the evening before Christmas Eve and raining. When I was a kid we had snow up to the kitchen windowsill on Christmas Day. One year we all had to muck in and dig my grandparents’ house out, it having been buried up to the first floor window. Sally’s bump was moving about. I could see the feet of the baby moving about inside, pressing against her stomach, looking like it wanted to break through, probably trying to escape like the rest of us. I wanted to know the sex but Sally wants it to be a surprise. Infuriating at first and I must admit I got a bit childish about it, saying things that nearly led to me being a weekend dad. But I suppose it added to the excitement, not knowing. I tried to imagine the things I’d do with a son or a daughter. The baby stuff gets to be all in white when you don’t know the sex, so no sickly blue’s and pink’s puked all over what was, until three months before, my office, my space. I had to share with Sally, in her ‘untouched’ office in the converted attic. It was all pink laptop and IKEA flat-pack office furniture. Sally called it modern, slim-line and most of all that word which forever has me thinking of reaching for the sick bowl every time she says it – efficient.

I loved my office. There was a dark red Chesterfield sofa, a mahogany bookcase and a folding writing bureau. A dark-green shaded table lamp on my battered mahogany desk with its leather insert rock solid from a century of paperwork and pen pressure. You’d walk in there and there’d be this smell – rich and musty, the way bookshops should smell, or would smell before everyone started trying to copy the Americans. Why any nation would look to a country that promoted therapy, right-wing religion and personal armaments as equal virtues, as a role model is beyond me. However, I don’t want to come across as anti-American. Twain, Kerouac, Luther King, Spielberg, Shatner and Cheers…there has to be some good apples in every barrel, hasn’t there?

I tried to sleep, although it wasn’t easy with all that wind, rain and lightning outside.

 

Bloody typical! This will come as little surprise to anyone who may be reading this in the years to come but on Christmas Eve 20-, humanity finally reached the day that the whole world went to hell in a wobbly wheeled Tesco trolley. My sad little account will probably be nothing compared to the Churchill-like diary entries of the great and good that undoubtedly always survive in times of disaster whilst mugs like me get fed to the monsters, but I believe that the events of that Christmas Eve, and of the period that followed, might be of interest to historians to come.

 

 

Scurlock 3 – Generation X

12 Nov

My generation were called ‘Generation X’, unfairly I believe, by the generation before us. Basically anyone born between about 1975 and 1990 were said to have a very poor attention span, hungry for the quick influx of information, obsessed with the new wave of gadgets and games coming out in the 1980’s – Simon Says to Duke Nukem to mobile phones – check out Marty McFly’s son in Back to the Future II – (anyone in a relationship will know the nuisance that a mobile can be to your life, especially when writing).

This invented post-modern rot was pushed by the media and the governments of the day to justify the ‘dumbing down’ of the arts and society in general. Let’s feed this generation with Neighbours, Big Brother, the horror that was late night ITV programming, MTV documentaries on how to boil an egg in your first student house. God forbid that people weren’t actually suffering from societal wide attention-lacking boredom, that people born in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s actually wanted some depth to their programming, their art and their theatre.

It’s the self-convinced belief that the majority of people are feckless idiots that leads successive govts to marvel at A* A-level and GCSE results and claim that the exams must be rigged or ‘too easy’, allowing the MP3 generation to get into the universities that should, in ‘our leaders’ opinions be reserved for the offspring of the well-off.

What, in fact, have we seen in the last ten years? Programmes like Big Brother, ‘Celeb’ fly-on-the-wall ‘documentaries’, like lemon flavoured cola, have failed to attract people’s attention after the initial fizz and now sit as flat dregs on that enemy of all things interesting, Channel 5. The lemon is in the ashtray and the ice is melting in the glass. People demand more challenging theatre, cinema and TV – I’m sure we can all think of examples, and we’d all disagree on our favourites so I won’t mention mine here.

Could I be coming across as a cultural snob? Some of you may like these programmes but I ask why is the Culture Show pushed to the furthest end of the BBC’s schedules and Doctor Who (my guilty pleasure) and the lottery (basically an advert for indirect taxation) on at prime time? Your opinions please.

P.S. (Dawn of the Dave – ebook on Amazon, now only 77p!)

 

Scurlock Blog 2 – Zombie taboos

12 Nov

Let’s take an often tried concept, the Zombie movie. I am not an expert on the zombie movie but I’ve seen enough, like most people, to form an opinion good or bad. When one mentions zombie movies one of the first films to jump to mind for the British Audience is Shaun of the Dead, a satire of American George Romero films that the stars and makers of Shaun are fans of.

Of the many funny parts of this film, the one comment that stands out is the place of safety chosen by the unlikely hero, Shaun, namely the Winchester Pub. In the American zombie films the haven of choice is very often a mall, or over-priced tat citadels that we call ‘shopping centres’ (St David’s 2?). The idea of the mall is quite appealing to begin with – food, clothes, toilets, shelter etc, but the characters never seem to realise that the mall is surrounded by glass windows and doors that your average determined, have-a-go zombie horde will bash and lean against until the thin glass cracks and they surge forward.

Secondly, the female characters seem to have been drawn in crayon for all the depth put into the writing. They are either scantily clad squealing teens, over-bouffonted sarcastic business women in the obligatory business suit and heels, or they are masculine, machine gun totting hybrids that seem in constant competition with the main hero, usually a man.

My suggestion is a little different. In my book ‘Dawn of the Dave’ the ‘hero’ Dave is not always in the thick of things, with the hero role passing between the collection of different characters, male and female. Dave moves between participant and observer, holding back for others to express their opinions on how to fight, or how to survive, and coming forward when he needs to.

For sanctuary they forego the shopping centre experience and choose an average late Victorian school, made out of two foot thick bricks, with windows set ten foot high in the walls so the children can see the sky but not the passers-by, and large, heavy steel gates to keep the bratish hordes in and the zombie hordes out.

Hasn’t the time come, Hollywood, for action films with positive female leads that don’t have to conform to ridiculous FHM or Vogue stereotypes? When will we see the male lead be the non-muscular ‘nerd’ type who’s opinions and skill set can be just as effective as the one-dimensional, testosterone pumped ex-war vet who just happens to tag along? We wait with baited breath.

 

p.s. if you have a spare 77p, please download my ebook ‘Dawn of the Dave’ from Amazon

Scurlock Blog 1 – Hollywood Worries

12 Nov

What is going on in hollywood these days? Accepted, this part of the USA is generally seen as shallow, money hungry, get all you can and step on the little guy and ‘Oh, but don’t forget to laugh at the latest Adam Sandler film. This time he’ll take the mick out of a different minority to the last film’.

Remakes, reboots and sequels. It’s a sad sign of the growing recession that original talent, such as aspiring screenwriters, playwrights and novelists are being pushed out of the official film making industry in favour of play-it-safe remakes, reboots and sequels of films that have proved money worthy in the past.

Apparently they plan to remake Lawrence of Arabia with Robert Pattinson in the lead. I’ll say no more on that one and leave it for you the reader to debate. What is next? Schindler’s List starring Hugo Weaving as Oskar Schindler, a knife wielding hero that hunts down John C Reilly’s Amon Goth? Or Withnail and I 2: Back to the Countryside where uncle Monty finally gets his way and Withnail lands his desired cigar commercial? But no, Hollywood might just pull an original story out of the bag. I’m sure we all cannot wait for Starbucks: The Latte Letters, a story of true love between two baristas as they compact the bins on a rainy day. Oh, the hilarity!

This is why I love National Theatre Wales, a community of truly original creative that just want to stand up and yell ‘I’ve got a voice damn it and I’m damn well gonna show it!’. Hollywood, you could learn a lot from NTW members. I have.

 

p.s If you have a spare 99p, please download my ebook ‘Dawn of the Dave’ from Amazon

 

Lean Mean zombie killing machine

12 Nov

Dawn of the Dave – on Amazon for only 99p – takes a dark, comedic look at a post-apocalyptic suburban world through the eyes of 35yr old sandal-wearing, carpet shop Assistant Manager Dave Driscoll, married to school teacher Sally, six months pregnant with their first child. The story centres on the myriad of human relationships that we become entangled in as we stagger into the real world in our late teens to twenties. We come to know people that we can happily say goodbye to at the end of the day so that we can moan about their individual quirks that we can’t stand. However, with a zombie apocalypse as its catalyst, the characters are forced to unite with the people they can’t really stand and live with them for twenty four hours a day as the world as they knew it, and their middle class comforts, start to slowly fall away.

 

Dave is obsessed with the minutiae of everyday life – such as the etiquette of toileting in another person’s home; should Christmas films be cancelled in an apocalypse – everyday life being something he’s never fully come to grips with. A gun-toting mother-in-law in tow, along with the local priest, Father Nathaniel, whom Dave hopes to tap for a Christening discount, they come across Sally’s colleague Kai, art teacher who leads them to their main sanctuary, the Primary/Comprehensive school that he and Sally work in.

Dawn of the Dave is focused more on heart than gore, a humourous look at how we interact with each other in society at large and behind the often claustrophobic four walls of our dwellings. Who are the real monsters – the humans or the undead? A ‘zombie’ = mindless, unthinking violence whereas a neo-Nazi = violence based on conscious free will and ‘ideology’. Are the ‘undead’ a reflection of the darker side of humanity, where reason and judgement is removed?