Friday, September 11, 2020

'Me and Lio' Reader comments

Extracts of reader comments from ‘Me and Lio’ up to the quarterfinals of the 2020 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting in Los Angeles. Valued feedback and for those who have tried to adapt a short story to screenplay. #nichollfellowship

More here

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

A Pandemic Poem of Faith and Hope

Pandemic Poem

The Stations of the Cross 

(for Fr Phillip Lemon,

Our Lady of The Assumption, Bethnal Green, London)

By Mike Parsons

“After the first death, there is no other.”  Dylan Thomas

1.Jesus Is Condemned To Death

We adore thee O Christ and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

                      “ after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors”

                                 Luke 2. 41-52

Death. Do I fear it?  I am terrified, but  there are moments, when in giving, you gain the incalculable.

So much is wrong, so much unnecessary.

Let me give.

 

We live lives dedicated to change.

Ce petit monde est a refaire”  says Emmanuelle Billoteaux

(This little world must be remade).

 

Who is to blame?  

We can talk of specifics.

We should not talk of blame, but of understanding, 

Evaluation.  

We must identify the problems.

 

I take a walk with Christine's children in Umoja, Nairobi.

Flowers grow along the path; purple and yellow.

The corn has been harvested though there are still some ripening.

The whole field has been cultivated since I was here lst October,

Women were preparing the ground then, and planting.

They have worked well.

 

Some people are secure with their money and posessions.

Do they care only for themselves?

 

What Impels?

 

Please, help us with our lives.

Help us overcome our faults,

understand and change.

Forgive us our trespasses.

 

Lord Jesus, you are condemned to death a million times by greed and self-interest.

By power compounded with fear

in this vicious cycle of survival.

 

Condemned to death

and yet going beyond death.

Unstoppable.

 

You will not die,

“I will not die”.

 

We are left with the question, “Why does life destroy life

                         Why destroy that which will take the fear away?”

But their fear is not our fear.

We are not our bodies,

We are more than our minds, 

more that our sense of “I”, Tyranical, fragile, fearful…

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Friday, July 10, 2020

Quietly Confident

https://www.filamentpublishing.com/shop/business/quietly-visible/
Quietly confident and calculating?
Waiting in the wings?
An introverted woman's guide to life positioning
Carol Stewart
Filament 
Tackling and overcoming issues of quietness and shyness is the main premise of Quietly Visible and in its own way, the book pulls no punches in its focus of intent. The idea of being the quiet one at the party left in the shadows by the extroverts who can make small talk and shamelessly push themselves forwards may recall the 1980's movie Working Girl, where the Melanie Griffith character has her quiet but clever ideas stolen by the louder and more assured character played by Sigourney Weaver. Talking about what exists beneath the surface in everyday life but may not be acted on is the enduring cautionary tone in this book and yet also serves as its gift of hope as well. After reading you might change your perception from 'watch out for the quiet ones' to 'watch and admire the quiet ones'. 


Using character studies of persons who have impacted change in their own life, the book draws on the author’s own life experience as a single, introverted mum in the corporate world, raising an extrovert son. Counselling and differentiated assessment tools offer positive paths to those seeking to foster change in themselves through self-help initiatives, through courses offered by the author. The journey up the corporate ladder in this book is more about coming to terms with the self first and pinpointing individual strengths and doing the research not speaking for the sake of it, or being false to one’s true nature. It seems prescient to talk about this cause in an era of Pandemics, Black Lives Matter, and the Me Too Movement, as the cause of glass ceiling busting ideologies and lateral thinking are currently in vogue. Perhaps the successes of extroverts who broker deals in corporate power moves are inbedded in the psyche of those who came of age in the 1980's and 1990's and watched from the shadows the grandiose gestures of others, like the Donald Trump grandstanding and deal brokering in bombastic style.

This book is for the quiet ones who work their way up through the ranks, listening and waiting for their chance to shine. It is also about empowerment and feeling that there is a valued place for all members; after all it takes different strokes for different folks to make the world go round after all. WE know that. You only get one chance to pitch a producer in Hollywood, they say, so this book is about ensuring that you sharpen your skills and look into the reasons behind why projects are green lighted. The devil is in the detail and they do say watch out for the quiet one in the room. This book is about lifting the self-esteem off the floor in a world of loud rock music and letting the acoustics of the unplugged instruments be heard.

A great deal of the book speaks of Carol Stewart's experience as a single woman of the BAME community who has survived and thrived in traditional male dominated workplace. As a leader in the BAME community it is also inspiring as Stewart uses real like examples of being a single mother who took on a leadership position in a company and also because a successful life coach and mentor to others.

The self-reflection exercises speak to the layman who is looking to identify the strengths and weaknesses in past working relationships and the onus is on that person whom is looking to overcome their fears but also doesn't want to change their personality too much either. This book really spoke to me and seems a practical guide to moving forwards without all the showy emotions that garner quick attention but are ultimately unfulfilling and meaningless. It is metaphysical in spirit and a meditative in tone.

The title appealed to me because the author spoke of the quiet ones in the room and I have long thought that the quiet ones are the ones to watch out for.

I will certainly be intrigued to know what Carol Stewart will write about next as this guide goes on to become a bible for the shy and quietly visible leaders in the new millennium.

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Monday, June 15, 2020

Nato A-Z Annapolis Valley A-Z

NATO: A-Z ----------------ANNAPOLIS VALLEY A-Z

A: Alpha ---------------- A: Apple... Blossom Festival
B: Bravo ---------------- B: Boys ...Oh, boys
C: Charlie -------------- C: Charlie ...Lemon
D: Delta ---------------- D: Dandy...Apple
E: Echo ----------------- E: Eh...Wha?
F: Foxtrot ---------------F: Friggen…Rights (by rights)
G: Golf ----------------- G: Gravenstein…Apple
H: Hotel ---------------- H: How…Yah Doon?
I: India ------------------ I: I…Wun’t touch em with
J: Juliet ----------------- J: Jumpins …Oh, my
K: Kilo ----------------- K: Killer…Karl Krupp
L: Lima ----------------- L: Lamb...Oh, my
M: Mike ---------------- M: Magin’
N: November ---------- N: Nice...Some nice
O: October ------------- O: Over...Shoulder boulder holder
P: Papa ----------------- P: Prix…Wrasslin (Gran Prix)
Q: Quebec ------------- Q: Quite...The rig now
R: Romeo -------------- R: Right…Wild
S: Sierra ----------------- S: Sumpin … Isn’t that?
T: Tango ---------------- T: Terble…Some terble
U: Uniform ------------- U: U-Pick...Potatoes you say?
V: Victor ---------------- V: Village…Stripper.....
W: Whisky --------------W: Wha?...Wall we’ll see yus
X: X Ray ---------------- X: X …Tra scoop Moon Mist?
Y: Yankee ---------------- Y: You...Wanna spend night in jail?
Z: Zulu ------------------- Z: Zinck’s...Transport

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Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Under the Volcano


Under the Volcano
Wild Abandon
  • 'You can package the wild and sell it but it may still turn around and bite.  Jennifer Barclay.
There's a sense of stoicism in the voice of narrator Jennifer Barclay as she rambles through the deserted towns and villages of the Greek Islands of the Docadenese.  There is also something of Robert Graves' introspection and isolation in Barclay's resolve to convey everyday life on Tilos, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Rhodes, Kos and Nisyros to understand why many former thriving villages have become deserted. As Graves was trusted to report from Majorca through his poetry and sagely wrote about Claudian Iberic exile in his 'I,Claudius' novels Barclay, is entrusted with her patch in Greece to give a sense of an idyllic world far beyond the yawning gape of a developer's back hoe. However as cracks and fissures appear in the ancient landscape of her travels a question remains: What lies beneath the surface of such an Idyll? 
Through Barclays' spare, impassive prose the sights are revealed; ferries are taken at night; goats, cats, fishermen stare and bonds formed by speaking the local language ease the reader in; after over ten years of living and moving on the Island chain, Barclay has watched events evolve.  Is there an element of the survivalist in her, getting lost in darkness up remote mountains? This is the question which is hinted at in Barclay's clear love of the natural world. The writing does have an old-fashioned quality and sometimes the quiet  humour evokes the idea  that the author is tending a vast garden pulled along by her dog. 

 
The ease at which Barclay is able to convey the pace of life and make friends, aided by her trusty dog Lisa, as well as her friendly encounters and observations of locals who tend bees in urns and her ability to interpret the regret of those who have had to make their lives in Australia and the USA is tempered by the fact that these Islands have been fought over for centuries; many islanders in the past century were forced to leave due to economic hardship and more sinister reasons. The Italians and 'Il Duce’ have had their way, leaving crumbling opera houses to rot as have had the Turks and the Templar Knights leaving imposing edifications proclaiming authority over the Aegean Sea. These abandonments pose more questions than answers, though, leave ghosts in the mind as well. The Nazis left their cruel stamp in Rhodes during the Second World War when the occupying military forced out the Jews. Conversely the influx of immigrants and displaced Syrians are viewed  through the eyes of an observer and not native. However there is a sense of everyone making things work in the community and an intrinsic spirit of living together on the connected islands of the Docadenese. 

The love for the land rings clear and we identify with each ‘interesting arrangement of stones’ and urn which turn up. However with each house and ruin Barclay passes, pulled along by Lisa, we are further reminded that many of the Islands fortunes have been made and lost at nature's whim as the region is part of a dangerous Aegean microplate. On western Nisyros for example, the spas which have made the town are also a source of dark humour to the locals. Like the inhabitants of modern Napoli, who live in the shadow of Vesuvius, the volcano could erupt at any time. Steam rises from small cracks in the surface.  Barclay relates the local myth that ‘the God Poseidon crushed a giant under a rock here, and his hot breath surges out from time to time.'

Wild Abandon is a well-researched read and Barclay a formidable travelling companion. The idea of that dormant trapped giant plays on the mind as Barclay walks in the footsteps of Greek history and we marvel at a place which has somehow resisted major development. We are intrigued to know how she fares and what next tale she will spin  in her late night ferry rides and rambles cross country in the shadow of the Volcano.   

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Friday, June 05, 2020

Bit of Bovver

‘The graves (in Abney Park Cemetery) heave up from the ground like the teeth of a badly dentisted but black-hairedand winsome girl.’  Gothic scenes and a fearsome wit infect Tim Wells’  Skinwolf in London tale:Moon Stomp.
Bit of bovver
The debut novel begins innocently as protagonist Joe Boshover, prefers suspenders and red gingham to any 'bovver' and lives with his parents in Stoke Newington. Things rapidly build to a head when Lena Lovich infects Joe with a lover’s bite at a heaving punk show though and the young printer is soon howling through the cobblestoned streets from Hackney to Smithfield’s Market. Moon Stomp is not late night Hammer Horror thriller filler or schlocky 60’s/70’s era kitsch either. "Wotcher," is word on the street in the ‘never quite sure who is behind you’ world of young bovver boys on the town. The mindset is Thatcher-era early 1980’s; punks, rastas, skinheads pack in clusters around Farringdon clubs. Essex bands like Puncture and punks The Ruts keep the heaving sex and thrill seeking Joe and mates Dennis and Irish Philip, 'Flipper' sated in their nightly escapes from union jobs in the print trade. Story aside which drives ahead with the pace of a mosh pit, narrator Joe Boshover imparts the story with a likeable but take no prisoners working class narrative which by the second chapter has Joe inhabit the form of a menacing, snarling, hirsute, prowling beast of the Hackney Marshes. Teen Wolf this is not and any memory of cheeky Michael J. Fox be damned. Joe has ‘tude  in spades.  He sizes up competition,  is opinionated about the company ‘e keeps like a poet early doors at a gig. This works well and the humour sparkles. ‘He was keen on fanzines, which Joe liked about him, but also Adam and the Ants, which Joe didn’t.’  A narrator ready to trade zingers but also not looking for trouble either is a winning start and we soon side with Joe as his alter ego chomps through Abney Cemetery with howl at the moon, abandon. Although a slim volume, ironically not much bigger than a book of poetry, Moon Stomp is a page turner with some eyebrow and hair-raising scenes. The London poet's spare style works in the new leap into fiction. 

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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Beatific and a bit bent in Soho

With the recent passing of Glen Carmichael, here is a new review of the cult novel: STILL SEARCHING FOR THE BIG CITY BEATS co-written with his friend, Kevin Evans. Available now from Burning Eye Books. 

Carmichael, Evans and co.
The spectre of Jack Kerouac casts a knowing eye over Glenn Carmichael and Kevin Evans’ cult novel ‘STILL SEARCHING FOR THE BIG CITY BEATS’ which is now reissued from Burning Eye. Dean Moriarty is reincarnated in 1980’s London as dangerous driving Gene Campbell’, a scene stealing, hard living poet with an eye for the ladies - and men. Echoing the role of Kerouac’s beatific, Sal Paradise and riding shotgun along Constitution Hill in their dented Vauxhall Victor is Gene's sidekick, Spike, straight man and word perfectionist searching for meaning in the repressed, Thatcher-era miasma they inhabit. It is straight man Spike's literate, self-deprecation and parody which invests our interest as the two friends careen around the Buckingham Palace roundabout trying to make their gig. The excitement builds through the tension and eyes of Spike as he wonders if he is really  'ready to.... swallow dive into the maelstrom' with this flamboyant self-seeking apostle, Gene, bent on taking them into the top tier of performance poetry. 


Cult novel reissued
The novel is fuelled by the friends' failures; a prior musical incarnation as 'The White Brothers' died with a spat on Denmark Street and the tension builds with one man’s desire to transfix the clubs over pubs of 80's seedy Soho London. The 'commissars of the quatrain' take the stage with a vengeance in The Red Lion to breath new life into a dying and abandoned art form. Seizing on the energy vacuum the young friends control the mic and soon 'words richocheted around the walls'. Suggestions that Gene is going to be the 'lifeguard' to a dying scene play on the mind of the more introspective Spike and his fixation on this messianic figure, is the power of the novel's first few chapters. (After speaking with Kevin Evans by phone I was informed that the opening of the novel won a literary prize, and it was the conviction of the two friends Evans and Carmichael to finish the novel as a consequence of this). As 'poetry' is The Big City Beats mutual calling, Spike’s concerns about the very strange nature of poetry assault the opening like beats on a drum in a jazz club: poetry as life tonic is a succession of metaphors expressed as frenzied mind skipping through a Rolodex. Poetry Is everything and nothing, a tired ‘gentlemen’s club’, a ‘wild beast’ a ‘queer fish’. After all, with Spike seeking a release from a stifling Civil Service day job, poetry is all consuming. But in the same space of days it is also ‘an atrophied corpse’ and the rewards are not money nor fame perhaps. Spike admits, ‘Poetry, who needs it?’  The answer and driving force comes from the relentless but unreliable form of charismatic ‘Gene’, who wills Spike to memorise their lines and beat back their audience into full submission to their ‘heavenly light’.  The style of writing moves from metaphor to simile and 'that queer fish' poetry never suffers from a lack of time in the spotlight. In the world of the Big City Beats, ‘poetry’ needs a kick up the arse as it is as ‘flaccid as a eunuch’s dick, as dull as dishwater’. Like an odd couple band eschewing definition you wonder how this will all tap out. ‘Your best is not good enough,’ Gene yells at the audience.

If you consider that 'STILL SEARCHING FOR THE BIG CITY BEATS' is a co-authored novel it may be appropriate that this ‘fictive book’,  based on real life, asks you to go deeper to try and figure out which poet wrote which part (Evans or Carmichael)? My gut feeling is that the opening, based on the observations of a sidekick, is written by Evans and the descriptions of the lack of organisation at a poetry reading show the point of view of a young passionate man whose anger resonates with his search for meaning. Have the action scenes been penned by Carmichael? How would the novel fare without its clever plotting? The poem ‘Distance’ at the end is a clear example of Carmichael's work and there are readings of it online.  It is hard to really know who wrote what but the book is able to easily blend an obviously mutually understood world and the characters crackle, fizz and pop. There’s is humour in the book, when show boating Gene waltzes into an East End caf and sits quietly ‘glum’ while both girlfriends, ‘Maria’ and ‘plain Claire’ hold court over the spoken word poetry scene.
"What is wrong?" asks Spike to his friend  who just stares ahead and mutters hollowly that ‘Carver, Raymond Carver has died.’ 
BIG CITY BEATS

This revelation floors Spike as he never knew his friend was a fan of Raymond Carver and the spare response and style may be a homage to the American master of 'less is more'. Spike never knows what Gene is going to do next and despite them seeming to be best friends it shows how little they know about each other outside of the desire to be the next big thing in spoken word poetry. There is a 'Withnail and I' quality about the book, though at times, the admitted ‘angry at the world tone’ is played on frequently.  What the book s great at is showing how little we do know about the people we spend time with. The action scenes are comic, perhaps penned by Carmichael (who has recently passed away) but again I don’t know. The scenes of drug taking  have maximum impact and show the debauched side of drug addiction, poverty, sex for sale, etc. The celebration of Spike’s birthday on February 14th is filled with pathos and terrible sadness as the boys veer  from name checked East End watering holes, like The Blind Beggar, to Murphy’s which is their secret name for the White Hart, all culminating in a quite debauched downward spiral as things literally go south after a disastrous reading at the posh Chelsea Arts and Crafts Fair. 

Danny Boyle, would you option this?

There is lots of great funny writing about working class observations of ‘Taffs’. The figure of Rhys a kind of stoned bully from hell who persecutes Spike for maximum comic effect is particularly effective as we want Spike to stand up for himself, which he never does.  Rhys, described as ‘the blond pale shit-bag, a neurosis and crisis written scumbag’ is over the top so we delight in the mad caper of his sadistic advances. The sadness of the book permeates through but the book has a page turning quality, and would make a decent film as the set pieces, all based  a round London landmarks like Pall Mall, Soho, The Red Lion Pub, Soho peep shows, The Blind Beggar, evoke a certain era of East End versus West End rent boys, scenesters, poets and lowlife's of 1980’s London. 

I see this book as a film. The scene driving around Buckingham Palace is a page right out of classic cinema  and the characters are rip snortingly real, as if the writer had put it down here to get the characters right when the book is filmed. This book has a very dark soul but is honest in its account of real life events which may have occurred at The Hard Edge Club from 1989 till 1995 and it features award winning writing (the first chapter won the East Side Writers award in 1998) and the comedy is there. If there were a sequel I would call it something like Spiked: Withnail’s uncle pops his clogs in Soho. 

After speaking with Kevin Evans by phone recently and in light of the recent death of his old friend Glenn Carmichael, I asked Kevin whom he would like to direct the film of this book. One particular person was in my mind but I asked Kevin anyway.  "Danny Boyle or someone like that, would do a great job." Are you a director looking for a book set in 1980's London. This one has it all, and deserves its beat, cult status. 

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

What Patrick saw (and wrote about)

Performed by Mama C

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Star Mining Machinery of an Alien Kind?





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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Caw of the wild

A review of Scott Andrew Christensen’s word play poetry debut.
 Debut

Review

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