Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Making Somerstown A Better Place

I live in a run-down inner city slum (as Beattie from the BT adverts would say, we're very 071). Somerstown  lurks between Euston and Kings Cross. A few years ago estate agents essayed "South Camden" but have now decided we're "St Pancras".

For an inner-city slum, Somerstown is lovely. But it has its problems. Luckily, the National Lottery has given us a shed-load of cash to Do Lovely Things.

Notices went up inviting us to come along to a meeting with ideas on how to spend it. I trotted along. You know on the news when they say "X became Radicalised After Attending A Training Camp"? I became accidentally radicalised because I sat too far from the crisps.

I sat in the meeting for an hour. There were a bunch of genuine residents. Some had brought along bits of paper, including a child's drawing in felt tip. It appeared to show a lot of green lawn and trees. But there were also a lot of people who were Big In Local Politics. The news would call them "Community Leaders". I'd call them Men Who Loved The Sound Of Their Own Voices.

They started talking with each other. Loudly and longly. Acronyms were exchanged. Grudges about differences between Local Forum and Working Parties. There was a lot of disparaging talk about Edith Neville (she sounded rather grand until I realised she was a school) and Plot 10. There was A LOT of shouting about Plot 10.

I put up my hand. "Er, what's Plot 10?"
Mr Love-Voice sniffed disparagingly.
Madly, I got a round of applause. No-one else seemed to know. Turned out Plot 10 was an outdoor gym.

The shouting carried on. After an hour the cowed-looking chair said "So, shall we move on to start the agenda?"

An hour. No-one had asked for any ideas. Just a lot of fat voices talking shop. I stayed a bit longer. Nothing more happened. Felt tip drawings moved from laps to under chairs. More voices.

Eventually I stood up. I'd left dinner on and had to get back to it. I apologised quietly and left.
I heard voices behind me. "Quite right!" and "Disgusting!".

On my way out of the community centre, I glanced back. I'd accidentally staged a walk out. I wasn't alone. Oh dear.

I'd gone along wanting open spaces and lawns and things for kids to do in the evening. All I'd done was sit too far from the crisps.

As I walked through my courtyard, two boys were destroying one of my rose bushes with a lightsaber.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Liz and her Mum

Last year I got to write for Liz Shaw. It was the last thing that Caroline John recorded before passing away. I got to meet her at the recording. She'd brought in jam.

She was wonderful, and I was so very sad when she died.

There'd been tentative plans for another adventure for Liz and her mother, which sadly didn't get very far. Here's the opening:


(SFX: Engine running. It is raining. Car door opens and Liz gets in hurriedly)

LIZ: Drive, mum! Drive!

EMILY: I take it the meeting at UNIT didn't go well?

LIZ: No.

EMILY: And how is the Brigadier?

(FX: Distant thumping noise)

LIZ: He's in the boot...


Anyway. That's as far as it got. No idea if I'd have got away with it. But I'd love to have tried.

Here also is her son's Just Giving page.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Party Politics

I went home early because of a nugget.

I used to be able to *do* parties. Not to A Level, but I could muddle through a GCSE in chatting to strangers in the kitchen, hoovering the crisps, flirting madly with someone else's husband and getting a bus the wrong direction home.

I still can kind of do parties. But not brilliantly. Given that the internet appears to be where people confess to social ineptitude, I've always found parties a bit baffling. I once bought a self-help book called "How To Talk To Absolutely Anyone" but gave up when I realised it was basically "pretend to find people interesting in case they can give you money, either through work or marriage". I've settled into "talk to the fun people and see how that goes".

Last night we couldn't get it right. It was a party full of young gay couples. In theory, brilliant. The hosts were lovely, there was booze everywhere... but my boyfriend and I stood in a corner hissing at each other "we should mingle". Everyone was standing in little covens of four. So we made slow progress.

A kind-of ex was there. Last time I saw him, he was a young Labour activist. Now he works for Theresa May. He was carrying a bottle of Veuve Cliquot and said "Let's bring out the good stuff! Ha ha!". We'd brought along some Mateus Rose. Because it seemed funny. (Always bring two bottles - one you'd like to drink, and one that's silly. But not Lambrinin. Never Lambrini). It's hard making small talk with someone who is still lovely and chatty and friendly while you're thinking "But you work for... for evil". I can only imagine orcs and mages at a mingle:
"So what's Mordor like?"
"Oh well, you know, Sauron's not so bad. Great sense of humour, surprisingly. And summer hours, hey ho."

What capped it though, were the nuggets. A tiny blond thing darted forward. He had hair that aimed for Harry Styles and landed on combover. Blond Thing grabbed a nugget, dunked it in the cheese&chive and trilled, "Ooh, I love a chicken covered in cream."

My boyfriend and I looked at each other. We went home and watched a film.