Saturday, November 25, 2006

Kill Christopher Biggins

It became necessary to assassinate Christopher Biggins, and so the celebrated murderer Richard Higginbottom was employed for the task. He went about the job in his usual professional way, disguising himself as a librarian in order to research Biggins' life and establish important facts such as how tall he was, whether he was bulletproof and how often he checks his food for poison before eating. Many murderers skimp on this kind of preparation and just end up making fools of themselves. In this case, Higginbottom discovered that Christopher Biggins is immune to all conventional forms of assassination unless he is in an unusually distracted state of mind.

Accordingly, Richard Higginbottom set about constructing an elaborate scenario to mentally disorient his victim. Disguising himself as a schoolteacher, he recreated the most traumatic event of Christopher Biggins's past - the time when as a five-year-old he had successfully persuaded his primary school's board of governors to allow a ravenous Bengal tiger to wander freely around the school, with the result that several dozen children were severely upset. Higginbottom ensured that his reconstruction of the events was accurate in every way and issued a press release alleging that the whole incident was Biggins's fault. Unfortunately, however, Christopher Biggins was at that time on holiday in Barbados and didn't hear about it.

Disguising himself as a man, Richard Higginbottom travelled to Barbados armed with several tons of explosives and a seahorse with extensive psychological problems. Obviously the plan was to stuff the latter with the former and introduce it to Christopher Biggins at a party. From that point onwards, things should have flowed automatically - Biggins would offer the seahorse a cigarette to take its mind off its problems, it would light it and explode in a cataclysmic conflagration, Biggins would be momentarily perturbed by the possibility that he had provoked a suicide, and Higginbottom would be able to run up and hit him over the head with a sledgehammer.

Unfortunately, however, Christopher Biggins died of natural causes immediately after Higginbottom's plane touched down in Barbados, obliging him to murder Ringo Starr instead. The worldwide outpouring of grief at this tragedy forced the laws on murder to be changed, several pantomimes to be cancelled and a horse to survive a heart attack that would otherwise have killed it. If there's a moral to all this, then I sure as heck don't know what it is.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Freshwater perils

I've just seen a trailer for Happy Feet, which I might possibly go and see if I can summon the energy, that warns that it contains 'very mild danger'. Don't they rate films by the levels of peril any more? I always appreciated the enormously weird use of the word 'peril'.

Other things in peril at the moment are this alleged novel I've been trying to write. I need to do another nearly 2000 words today if I'm going to stay on schedule. And I can tell you now, I'm not going to. I'm sorry I've been writing about writing so much just lately, by the way. It's just that I really haven't been doing much else this week apart from writing and finding excuses not to write. Mainly the latter.

I have set foot out of doors once or twice, though, and I'm quite infuriated by the fact that the Eagle centre seem not to have got the singing tree this year. They've got Santa's grotto instead, which I think is a disgrace. What's more Christmassy, Santa Claus or a singing deciduous tree with an inexplicable raccoon sticking its head out the top and joining in with high-pitched harmonies? There should be a petition. I'd write to my MP, only it was probably her idea to get rid of the tree in the first place.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Man of the year

I looked up in the city centre today, and noticed a little statue in an alcove on the exterior wall of a shop, up on the first floor level. It's of a guy called Jedediah Strutt. So I researched him on the internet, and it turns out he was an 18th-century inventor who made an improvement to the process of stocking manufacture, and owned a lot of cotton mills in Belper. They'll build statues of anyone nowadays. His grandson was an MP and became the first Baron Belper, a title that apparently still exists - I should pay more attention to the local aristocracy in case I ever need to line them up against a wall when the revolution comes.

But then, there are statues of all kinds of weird people. Back in Boston, in the market place there was a great big statue of Herbert Ingram, who founded the Illustrated London News. And later drowned in the Lady Elgin disaster while on a trip to America, although that part wasn't mentioned on the statue. Which is a shame, because it's the most interesting thing he ever did. Absolutely nobody in Boston ever so much as noticed that the statue even existed, let alone knew who was on it. That's how I'd like to be immortalised - on a statue somewhere out of the way that nobody pays any attention to. That'd be cool.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tappity tap

And as the bleak hopelessness and futility of Lavinia's life overwhelms her one cold, rainy night in a waiting room at Grantham train station, the author wonders why he didn't pick a more cheerful kind of book to write.

But at least I'm nicely ahead of schedule still. All I have to worry about as the story thunders towards the half-way point is that it's going to finish before 50,000 words at this rate. It might not, though, we'll see how it goes over the next week or so. And I can always go back and add a few more scenes here and there without it looking too much like blatant padding to my inner editor and critics.

I'm re-watching this week's Torchwood ("Countrycide") at the moment - it was a very good one. The plot doesn't come close to standing up to any kind of scrutiny, but the atmosphere it creates is so brilliant that you barely notice. It's tense and scary and full of nice character interaction between the five leads. Big thumbs-up from me, anyway.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The sweet smell of success

Fond as I am of this little flat, I had come to the inescapable conclusion that it pongs a bit. So, taking matters firmly in hand, I decided to get some more air freshener and today, about a year after running out, got some. I also on a whim decided to get one of those things that you plug into the socket and it spreads smelly stuff around the room. The end result is that the flat still stinks, but in a different kind of way. I'm undecided as to whether this new stench is an improvement, but we'll see what someone less numbed to unpleasant odours thinks when they next set foot inside the place.

Anyway, I don't care because for once I'm satisfied with my NaNoWriMo output for the day. After all that slacking off over the first twenty days, I was left needing to write 3500 words a day for the last ten. Well, day one and I've managed that and a little bit more on top, so I'm delighted! It's utter drivel, obviously, but I don't care. I've got forty minutes till Torchwood comes on, I'm going to do a bit more now and get nicely ahead of myself in anticipation of a creative slump in the next few days.

The really cool part is that I'm not at all sick of Lavinia, Jake, Mike and all the rest of my cast yet, even though I've been writing about them long after the initial burst of excitement has worn off. Yay!

Monday, November 20, 2006

La di da di dum, la di da di dum, what's the name of that song?

I had an email today to say that the Chinese Memory Championships will happen in Shanghai on December 23rd, and asking me if I want to come. Christmas in China - the idea is eccentric enough that I'd seriously consider it. But is it possible to arrange a trip to China in a month, or do you have to mess about with getting visas and immunizations and things in advance?

Anyway, have you see the TV show "Raven"? It's a brilliant children's adventure game show, sort of along the lines of Knightmare or The Crystal Maze, except that the six competitors are all competing against each other. It's set in some very scenic forest surroundings, with a wide range of physical and mental challenges, all hosted by Raven - a man who turns into a bird occasionally, complete with feathery cloak and hair done to make it look like feathers. James Mackenzie, in the title role, is fantastic, he's got real presence. And the whole production has some very nice special effects that don't get in the way but do add to the air of magic in the whole thing. I love it, and I'm going to have to add it to the list of cool children's game shows that I never got to go on (Knightmare, Funhouse, etc). I bet I'm the only person in the world who's still accumulating childhood traumas at the age of thirty.

Oh, and while we're talking about people who've spent years of their lives entertaining children, let's hear it for John "T-Shirt" Hasler. He's great, and needs to be on TV more than he is, if any producers are reading this.

One more link, and then I'll stop it and go back to just wittering on about whatever comes into my head for the future. This is the theme tune for today's blog. It's stuck in my head, despite my best efforts to mentally transmogrify it into the strangely-similar-when-you-think-about-it Chelsea Daggers. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

So, plans

I don't have to go back into work until December 1st (although I might go in one day before that so as not to be unduly stressed when I'm there), and I need to get on with things. I'm a quarter of the way through my fifty thousand words, so there's a lot of scribbling needs doing over the next eleven days. There's memory training to catch up on, because I need to stay in mental shape over the winter even if there aren't any competitions, and over the next fortnight I want to properly plan out "How To Be Clever" and get some kind of schedule sorted out for writing it.

Or I might just stay in bed the whole time. I'll see how I feel. It's November, after all, and kind of gloomy outside.