Monday, June 23, 2014

A Nice Bit Of Chaucer

swearing babyLike most of my countrymen I have a long established love affair with swearing.

Despite Irish Navvies possibly protesting the claim, I believe that nobody on this planet swears quite like your average Englishman. Possibly at one time, your choice of cuss was influenced by class and proclaimed the same but these days a Peer of the Realm is just as likely to drop the C word as some habitual fly-tipping dole-ite on Benefits Street and your average tramp on the street sometimes has more breeding than your average bank manager.

When I was at Secondary school I swore every day. It was de rigueur. It was part of the atomic make-up of the rarefied atmosphere of “hormonal teen”. More than that. If teenagehood was a nightclub then swearing was the stamp they put on the back of your hand to prove you’d paid to get in. And that you were probably too immature to be there.

As I got older swearing, for me at least, was no longer about expressing anger but expressing humour. Peter Cook might have been swearing like a trooper in the 60s but for me it was the alternative comedy scene in the 80s that awoke the realization that a fuck placed strategically into a sentence could be the source of much mirth. Suddenly expletives – not denying their inherent shock value – became a tool of comedy and humour.

And that emotional response is pretty much where I have stayed. Which isn’t to say I don’t wince when I catch my eldest boy befouling the air with an age appropriate / environment inappropriate F bomb. Or sneer when I overhear some yob in the street linking every second word he utters with a mispronounced “fock”. This is quite possibly hypocrisy but, well, what can I say but fuck you? Swearing is open to everybody but as an art form few master it properly.

Swearing is on my mind today because I have just finished writing a new Kindle book. It’s a joke autobiography and is scurrilous, blatantly un-PC, cartoon pornographic and deeply puerile and will be published under an assumed name. I had enormous fun writing it and it made me laugh out loud. My wife has now read it and it has made her laugh too. She also complimented me with the remark that it is very well written but just like my (proper) novel, The Great Escapes Of Danny Houdini, I have peppered it (or even soaked it) with the kind of language that will probably drive away a good portion of the book buying public.

The ones that say “breadbin” instead of “bastard” or “bum” instead of “arse”. The nice ones who suffer bouts of apoplexy when someone let’s rip with a “the pope be damned!”

She’s not the first person to say that. A colleague who is currently reading Danny Houdini has also admitted to me that she found the frequent bad language shocking and hard to take. She’s enjoying the story so is “persevering” but she made it sound like she was having to wade through the sewers of Calcutta to reach a promised Eden. More, she couldn’t conceive how a polite, well-spoken individual like myself could produce dialogue of such excoriating depravity. My words not hers. Because I’m bigging myself up as I took it as a compliment.

But. It does niggle me a bit.

For me, swearing is a reality. It is all around us and, really, there are far more important things to be offended by than mere language and phonetics. In literature generally, but especially in the books that I write, I like the dialogue to be real. People swear. They say the wrong thing. They say silly things. They are offensive deliberately for a laugh. They lack the education to express themselves well so swear. Or they are well educated but like to swear for the effect it has. For some, swearing is its own subculture and, like teenage swearing, is evidence of their membership to it.

But I worry that perhaps I am deliberately sabotaging myself. The gist of my wife’s remarks to me this morning are that I come up with great stories and then render them inaccessible to 50% of the population. If that is true it’s hardly a winning marketing strategy.

You see, I suspect that just as half of me yearns for artistic success, the other half of me is scared of it.

Fucking scared?

Possibly.

Or maybe I’m just sticking to my comedy bollockycunty guns.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Encyclopaedic Knowledge

Jeremy Paxman... Sex With...?Lord knows I like to think of myself as relatively intelligent though, of course, defining relative to whom or to what makes all the difference, relatively speaking. Relative to an egg box? Relative to an amoeba?

Relative to your average footballer I must be the brain of Britain though a friend I had a Facebook argument with on Saturday assures me that some footballers these days actually have degrees.

I’m assuming he didn’t mean as in third degree murder. Which is a pity given how I feel about football.

But.

The wife and I have been struggling of late to answer the cornucopia of questions that our youngest son has begun to throw at us.

The “reality science” ones are bad enough:

  • How big in metres is the world?
  • How far away is the furthest star?
  • How old is the universe?

But the ones that are really frying my brain are these:

  • How many yesterdays were there before tomorrow?
  • What do you get if you add a frog and water to an explosion?
  • What does [and I quote] lightning add house make?

Home life at the moment is akin to being a permanent contestant on University Challenge with a very impatient Jeremy Paxman demanding constant and immediate satisfaction. Incidentally, I muse on the pros and cons of Jeremy’s bedroom manner in my new Kindle book *cough cough* “Sex With…” which you can currently buy from Amazon. Please do.

In the end, when our young brainiac came up with the worst question of all: “Well, why don’t you know everything, daddy?” I finally admitted defeat and went out and bought a children’s encyclopaedia from WHSmiths.  On the whole it’s been a good buy and has put a stop to about 50% of the questions.

For the remaining 50%, it seems that even the best minds in the world stumble to a halt when trying to work out how many yesterdays there were before tomorrow.

My answer of “all of them” failed to impress.

One thing I do know though is how to make Professor Brian Cox have a nervous breakdown.

Lock him in a room for an hour with my son.

(And a copy of my “Sex With…” book which, funnily enough, for those of you who are interested, also features an enlightening piece about what Professor Brian might be like in the sack.)


 

 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Paying For Sex

Sex With... Stephen Herrick-Blake KindleIt’s not an easy thing to admit to.

Most people, I believe, think about doing it at some point in their lives though most, of course, will never admit to it. Of those, only a fraction will have the immoral fortitude and sufficient appetite to see it through. To realize the desire.

It’s the stigma, you see?

And possibly the cost.

Or maybe just the psychological damage.

But I figured I was strong enough. That my previous good character could not only take it but also immure me against whatever brickbats and public crucifixion might follow. I’ve never been afraid of censure.

Not where cheap laughs are concerned anyway.

So. I finally did it.

I have self-published a new book – full of brand new, unseen before material – about having sex with various celebs and famous people and you can all download it from Amazon right now and read of these incredible psyche-shattering sexploits (is it worth copyrighting that word or have others beaten me to it?) and have your erotic world-view forever widened and enlarged. Possibly even engorged.

The blurb which I have also written clearly states:

"Ever wondered what it would be like to have sex with Nigella Lawson? To doubleteam both George R.R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkien? To have your wicked way with Miley Cyrus, Bella Swan, George Lucas, Barack Obama, Darth Vader and Kurt Cobain? To maybe engage in a little post-coital badinage with Scooby-Doo, Simon Cowell and Wonga.com? Well now's your chance to experience the gory intimate details without having to remove a single item of your own clothing, invest in a bottle of rophipnol or risk unwanted pregnancy, crabs or cooties.

"Simply purchase this handy Kindle guide and the virtual experience of sex with your favourite star will be all yours. Not to mention the experience of sex with people you'd possibly not want to touch with a disinfected barge pole (Adolf Hitler, Jimmy Saville and Jeremy Clarkson to name but a few) but feel free to skip over those.

"Purchase, lie back, read and let me hit your e-spot with the celebrity lover of your choice.
"

And if you are still not sold on the idea then how about this… Rather than paying for it, if you download my book within the next 5 days you can do so for absolutely nothing! That’s right; I am offering you sex with the stars for absolutely free! Zero pounds and zero pence. Utterly gratis.

You just have to leave a review.

Just a tiny review on Amazon.

And some stars. 5 would be great.

It’ll take 10 minutes of your time and possibly help make me a household name. Like Jif or Mr Muscle.

I mean, come on, guys, this is pretty much all I ever ask for. It’s not like I’m fleecing you for tonnes of cash of anything. 9 times out of 10 times on this blog I throw you a freaking freebie* and I ask for so little in return.

Just look into my big [Dan] brown hound-dog eyes and buy the bloody book will you?

Right. Done. This marketing shit is piss-easy.

Next.



*I don't do frisbees. Ever.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Nadgers

Rik Mayall RIPThere’s going to be a lot of hyperbole written about Rik Mayall over the next few days. Some of it will be ball-achingly official, most of it will be deeply personal. This will fall into the latter camp.

To oafishly paraphrase Shakespeare: "Alas poor [Yo]Rik… Where be your gibes now?"

The answer is everywhere: all over the internet; all over YouTube; in boxed sets in every entertainment store up and down the country and, most important and most relevant of all, on the lips and in the minds of everybody who ever loved “Bottom”, “Blackadder”, “Man Down” or any of the other amazing raft of comedy adventures that Rik Mayall indulged in.

My good friend Dave and I have been indulging in “Bottom quote tennis” since we first learnt of his death yesterday. And we’re still going strong. An endless rally where every return is still somehow an ace.

For anyone who loved “Bottom” these quotes are pregnant (oo-er) with meaning:

“My, that’s  a smashing blouse you’re wearing.”

“That’s £1.20 you owe me – I bought you that drink in good faith!”

"I'll just pop upstairs and scrape off the sheets..."

“And I promise Lord that I will come to church every day… you do still do that thing with the wine and biscuits, don’t you?”

“They’re all doing it and doing it and then sitting back and having a fag and then doing it some more… oh Eddie why won’t anybody ever have sex with me?”

And there’s hundreds and hundreds more. I could fill the entire post with them.

I never liked “The Young Ones.” I freely admit that. I never watched it when it was first broadcast but a kid at my school, Richard Saul, was plainly an early devotee and would come into class the next day and basically re-enact the entire show, word for word, and add in his own especial brand of teenage obnoxiousness (I’m sure he matured into a truly lovely man). I confess it ruined it for me and I avoided the show like a plague afterwards. I finally caught up with it years later after being indoctrinated into the world of “Kevin Turvey”, “Filthy, Rich & Catflap” and “The Dangerous Brothers”. I thought I’d give it a go but “The Young Ones” just seemed…very amateurish and, worse, unfunny. I could see its anarchic approach was ground-breaking but the comedy was lazy and very hit or miss. For me it mostly missed.

But hey, everybody has to start somewhere.

“Bottom”, however, did it for me. Down-at-heel, tawdry, disgusting, puerile, childish and obsessed with body parts, body functions and sex. Everything I look for in a wife. Wife? I meant to say sit-com. Honest. “Bottom” came along at the right time of my life. I was a late teen. I had a filthy sense of humour but no appropriate outlet for it. And I was a virgin and likely to stay that way forever. Or so it seemed. To say I identified a little with Richard Richard is to under-egg the milky pudding immensely. The best thing about “Bottom” was that it was gloriously un-PC. I lapped it up. Oo-er again.

After that I was into everything Rik did. “The New Statesman”, “The Comic Strip” – especially the “Bad News” episodes – “Blackadder”.

Things went quiet for a long while. There was Rik’s horrible quad bike accident. The “Bottom” movie – “Guest House Paradiso” seemed a bit flat and the 3rd series of “Bottom” felt like it had been a struggle though the Halloween episode is still a classic.

And then last  year Rik resurfaced in “Man Down” as Greg Davies’ dad. It was a performance of utter genius. Pure Rik Mayall. Filthy, cheeky and full to the brim with blue-eyed, manic-smiled malevolence. The wife and I were desperately looking forward to the second series.

And now Rik is gone. Just like that. Out of the blue. It feels surreal. I’m shocked by how deeply it’s affected me. Rik Mayall was hardly “cuddly” and yet there was just something about him that was loveable. He was naughty. Very, very naughty. And ultimately, I think we all like a bit of naughtiness. We admire those who get away with it, those who push things a little too far and then say, “Oh tish” when some pinch-mouthed puritan inevitably gets their knickers in a twist over it.

Rik Mayall exuded comedy. Actually, that’s too passive. Given his high-octane, high-energy performances he projectile-vomited comedy all over the audience, all over his fellow actors and production teams and then hawked up a couple of big juicy lugies or two to act as comedy chasers. To watch Rik was to be utterly immersed in his performance. He was the ego sublime.

And now that he’s dead all I can think to say is, bollocks.

Utter, utter bollocks.