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Friday, October 20, 2017

Comic Cuts - 20 October 2017

The day after I said "I've got to pick up the pace" of work, I spent a chunk of the day planning how I'd be avoiding doing any work over the weekend and into the following week. Easy to say you'll do more work, not so easy to put it into practice.

We had a fantastic evening on Saturday in the company of Jeremy Hard. While most comedy involves a comedian standing on front of a microphone, talking, Jeremy Hardy personifies the art of standing in front of a microphone, talking. He moves away from the microphone only twice. There's no toying with the microphone stand, no walking back and forth. With only the occasional hand gesture and a few arm gestures for emphasis, the hour and a half he's on stage is an uninterrupted, unimpeded by distraction, comical – let's not forget that – demolition of the politics of the past 18 or so months. And it's side-achingly funny and just what you need when every day the news chronicles the economic disaster this country is going through and the even worse horrors we're about to face.

Trying to get to sleep after that proved problematic. With an early start due, I woke up at 2:15am and again at 3.00. I  dozed off a couple of times after that, only to be awoken by the alarm clock – the first time I've used one for probably thirty years – at 5:15am. Just enough time for a cup of coffee before being picked up by my sister for our second boot fair of the summer. We arrived at the venue at just after 6.00 and were guided around the field to the opposite side that we were on the last time we did one of these. If you're a regular reader, you might recall that things didn't turn out so well for us on that occasion, with low attendance numbers for a bank holiday and a total sale of £26.50, less the £6 cost of the pitch.

Dawn over Ardleigh Boot Fair.
We were back at Ardleigh on Sunday, but we arrived earlier and were closer to the main car parking area. That and keeping our fingers crossed should help, we thought. Pulling up to where we were to pitch our table, the car came immediately under attack from people walking up the line and knocking on windows: "Got any mobile phones?" "Got any TVs?" "Got any computers?"

We managed to get out of the car and wrestle the table out of the back. The first box on top drew half a dozen people, looking in by torchlight and phonelight, as did every box we put out. These fireflies buzzed around every box as they came out, then flew away towards the next pitch as a new car arrived and a table was unpacked or a blanket thrown down on the damp grass.

To counter the damp, I was reusing the bubble wrap from the last boot fair, so all of my boxes of books were on the ground this time. The two boxes of spare DVDs went on the table, but most of that was for my sister, who is on the move again and wanted to get rid of as much as she could. She made a quick, early sale: a whole £2 before she'd even finished unpacking. The day was off to a flying start.

The moon was high in the sky and it was still before dawn, but the fireflies kept buzzing around looking for bargains. I sold a DVD – that first sale is always a relief  – but I still had time to let my mind wander... maybe there's a film to be made about low status vampires having to go to boot fairs to buy cheap blood.

Even at this time of the morning, it was warm and sultry, the temperature having barely dropped from the previous evening – even Jeremy Hardy had commented on how hot it was at the Arts Centre, which, to be fair, had sold out, so it was packed with 300 or so human-shaped heat generators. The only negative to this heat was condensation... everything that was laid out soon had a light sheen to it. Not good for books, although they were tightly packed into trays, so it only meant giving the spines a wipe down every now and then. All sixteen trays.

The dew was eventually dried out by the sun and we were kept busy all morning as people arrived in waves: the fireflies, the hungry early birds, the breakfast clubbers, the Sunday sleep-ins and, towards the end, the stragglers just out because it was such a nice, sunny day. Plenty of footfall which was good news for both of us. We both did pretty well, Julie taking over £50 (and, as usual, found some loose change on the floor, this time 5p) and my takings just shy of that at £45. That means I've paid off the cost of the table – I still had £15 to go at the beginning of the day – and, after the price of the pitch, I still had £24 clear profit. More importantly, those sale equate to about five feet of shelf space, which will take, oh... at least a few months to fill. OK, maybe just a couple of months.

Arriving back home, after unloading the car, I crashed for a couple of hours, pottered around on the computer for an hour or so, and then we headed out again to see Bladerunner 2049. I've been looking forward to this one since they confirmed it was going ahead a couple of years ago... I mean, how could Bladerunner not be the favourite film of a science fiction/crime-noir fan like me?

It didn't disappoint. We'd watched the 'Final Cut' version of the earlier movie a couple of weeks ago, and the sequel dovetails perfectly. There are shots and music cues in the latter that echo the first film which won't necessarily make sense to people who haven't seen the original. I've seen complaints about the languid pacing, but as someone who remembers from thirty years ago that weren't edited at such a pace where scenes become impossible to follow. (Film critic Mark Kermode mentioned a film school exercise the other week: watch a film and clap when you see an edit point... it's like a slow handclap; now watch a modern film and the number of edits means you're dementedly applauding scenes that you can hardly make sense of.)

Visually the film was stunning, but what probably made me happiest was that it had a plot worthy of the original, one that grew organically out of the first film and developed that already rich storyline. The only complaint I have is that someone had found Nigel Tufnel's sound system and turned it all the way up to 11. Some have complained about the running time, but, to be honest, I didn't find it a problem, which for an old man who suffers occasionally from lower back pain can only mean one thing: I'm getting younger and fitter. Either that or I was so captivated by the film I didn't notice how long I'd been sitting still.

Monday was interrupted by a visit to the dentist for a clean and a mouthful of some staining gel that turned my tongue blue. The usual advice was offered: floss more often. I have never got on with floss, but I quite like those little TePe pokey things with the little brushes although it can be a pain getting the right ones because one size definitely does not fit all – even the hygienist said I needed three different sizes. Try flossing with the wrong size TePe and you end up with a damaged brush that's only fit for the bin. Apparently Poundland do them cheaply (I'm guessing £1) so I'll have to investigate next time I'm in town.

Tuesday was family lunch day. Apart from having Hunter's Chicken and a good laugh, there's not much to say about it. We went for a walk with my sister's mental dogs, which completely failed to tire them out; they were still full of beans when we got back home. One of them is the very definition of "not a lap dog" and he seems to think that putting his back paws smack bang on your privates is endearing. He must do because he does it every time he climbs onto the chair.

More good news is that I had Wednesday and part of Thursday to work on my various essays and I now have 19 of them, out of which I'll select the contents for the first volume of Forgotten Authors. I'm aiming for about 50,000 words, which should make for a reasonable ebook that won't break the bank. I'm now wondering whether I should do a print version of the shorter books, which will put them within more people's price range. The full version of Fifty Forgotten Authors is going to be huge and I'm a bit worried about the price. So having a shorter, cheaper option might work in my favour.

Hopefully I'll have the selection nailed down by next week. Some old essays revamped (mostly beyond recognition), some new ones that you won't have seen before, and one or two stories along the way that I hope will amaze you. Some of these authors had fascinating lives.

Random scans for the week... this week it's running!

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