Short Film Horror – Working Late
I wrote this to the specification ‘no-budget horror short, minimal characters, minimal locations.’
I think it ticks all those boxes.
Thoughts and feedback appreciated.
I wrote this to the specification ‘no-budget horror short, minimal characters, minimal locations.’
I think it ticks all those boxes.
Thoughts and feedback appreciated.
So the recent Jeremy Vine Cycling Fiasco has garnered much attention. Here are some thoughts of a long-time cyclist.
I have cycled for about 10 years now. It is my major mode of transport and I think of myself as a pretty good cyclist. I try to make myself as visible as possible, I wear a hi-vis jacket, I have lights on my bike when it’s dark, I wear a helmet, I use hand signals. I have my cycling proficiency badge. I do this because I know that cyclists just don’t really pop up on many drivers’ radars and I really just don’t want to die. I feel dying might be shit.
But Jeremy Vine’s experience is nothing new. Sadly, it happens all too often. Allow me to take a navel-gazing look down memory lane. A couple of years ago I was cycling along a busy main road, in the cycle lane (which was in dire need of some TLC) over in the gutter (which was filled with broken glass, because they all are) and a car came roaring passed me on the right hand side.
All of a sudden, it turned left onto a side street right in front of me. I didn’t see if the driver signalled or not.
The only reason I am still here and able to write this was I slammed my brakes on as hard as I could just in time. The reason I was able to do that was that I saw the car overtake me and thought ‘I wonder if this car’s going to overtake me and turn left like an absolute- Shit they have!’
I hit into the back of the car, nearly-but-not-quite sending me up and over the handlebars. The driver got out of their car and shouted “I’m fucking turning here! Look out you cunt!” and was generally pretty obnoxious.
I came back with a Jeremy Vine-level shit retort of “Oh, um, look out for cyclists!” and went on my way.
I think many drivers don’t cycle, because why would they? They have nice air-conditioned, water-proof cars with suspension that can go above 15mph. They have crumple-zones and air bags, cup-holders, radios. Seriously, WHY WOULD YOU CYCLE!? It’s shit.
It isn’t, it’s great, but still.
So I reckon many drivers just don’t understand what it’s like to be a cyclist. It can be very difficult and dangerous cycling in busy cities, you have to avoid pedestrians nipping across the street, busses pulling in and out, car doors opening, ruddy great big pot holes, broken glass, uneven road surfaces, you name it! All the while trying to negotiate hundreds of cars driven by drivers of differing skill level.
A lot of the time, drivers do things to cyclists that you just would NOT do if the bike was replaced with a car. Overtaking, in particular. If a car was driving at about 10mph because the traffic light up ahead was red, there’s no way you would overtake them. But if there’s a cyclist, fair game! If a car was signalling to pull out in order to overtake a bus, there wouldn’t be any question about putting on a burst of speed to overtake them! If Jeremy Vine had been driving a car rather than his bike, that situation just would not have happened.
No. But there is a very big ‘us and them’ distinction. Drivers hate cyclists because they scoot up to lights and weave between traffic. There’s a feeling of “I pay road tax, I passed a test to be allowed onto the road. I have more right to be on the road than cyclists.” and cyclists, understandably, are scared for their lives some of the time, so there is anger towards drivers.
There are bad cyclists (going through red lights, dark clothes, no hand signals, weaving through traffic left and right so that they change which mirror they can be seen in, simply can’t control their bike very well) and there are bad drivers (overtaking and turning left, cramping cyclists for room, flat out abuse, needlessly overtaking). And there isn’t very much discussion between the two about how we should be behaving on the road. Jeremy Vine cycling and getting into an argument doesn’t advance the discussion.
He was cycling in the middle of the road (which he is allowed to do!). The driver got angry at a cyclist in the middle of the road (understandably, he’s in the middle of the bloody road. He should try to be as far over the left as is safe to do so). They have a big argument and Jeremy then STOPPED HIS BIKE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD! Then he came back with one of those verbal ripostes the British are so famous for:
“Actually, I think you’ll find that I should allow the width of a car door to facilitate my safe bicycling. I think you’ll find that what you’ve just said could be legally defined as ‘Assault’ please don’t do it again. Or if you do, I shall have to ring my legally-required bell at you, my dear fellow!”
Jeremy Vine, 2016
All Jeremy Vine has done is to reinforce the idea that drivers are uber-aggressive arse holes with an unquenchable lust for the blood of cyclists, and that cyclists are shit at using the road and generally all-round tossers. I feel bad for ol’ Jeremy Vine for having a nasty experience as a cyclist, but he’s not helping the discussion.
The cool people over at YPIA have published my article about story structure.
Give them a look and a like over at:
So Leave happened.
And there’s a lot of Leave-bashing going on and it is not funny. Countless pro-Remain people are saying that Leave voters (for whatever reason) are racist or stupid or have been duped. There are many reasons why some people don’t like an un-wieldy, bureaucratic, non-British body which has regulatory power over the UK. And if we ignore these people, or deride them, we aren’t solving the problem.
Just take a look at social media. Actually, don’t. You won’t come back. I’ll briefly summarise much of the Remain social media rhetoric:
Vote Remain on Thursday, vote Leave of Friday. Tee-hee!
The Leave voters think you need to use a pen, instead of a pencil! Ho ho!
Look at how silly the pro-Remain politicians are! Boris Johnson’s hair! Nigel Farage’s clothes! Chortle chortle!
Now look passed the jokes.
Most of them are insulting to – let us not forget – more than 50% of the British public. There is a lot of anger and fear out there and people are angry about real things. Wages haven’t improved for some groups in decades. House-buying is difficult for the young; a problem that doesn’t just frustrate Millenials, but their parents who want their kids to be able to get out of their house. School class sizes are high. And NHS waiting times are rocketing.
‘But if we leave the EU, the economy will collapse!’ we all chimed.
Have you ever been to Darwen? Have you been to Redcar? Have you visited Grimsby? When did you last go to Hartlepool? These places haven’t seen investment or attention in decades. Their economy collapsed years ago.
And I’m sure that some people in those areas point the finger at EU migration for these problems. Immigrant workers tend to be employed, so they ‘take’ jobs. They tend to live in houses, so they ‘take’ homes. They have children who go to school, so they ‘take’ places. And if they get sick, these immigrants go to hospital.
The Leave campaign whipped up this underlying fear and anger; admittedly, with dodgy figures and bombastic rhetoric. But despite being debunked and derided at every turn, the Leave bandwagon has kept rolling. Despite being told to stop harping on about £350M, they did. People are still clamouring for ‘sovereignty’ – whatever that means – and that Brussels bureaucrats shouldn’t have regulatory powers on our jam jars.
And instead of soothing that anger and allaying those fears, we laugh at them. We deride their intelligence and call them racist. The feeling in London is one of disbelief that non-London, non-university-educated, non-flat white drinkers voted to Leave.
‘How could they Leave? Everyone I know is pro-EU, so I don’t understand how so many voted Leave. Stupid racists!’
That is exactly the attitude that Leave voted against. And I realise that I am exactly the sort of person they voted against. Flat whites are delicious. But I don’t want to insult Leave-voters, or ridicule them, or question their intelligence. They’re angry. Really angry.
And that anger isn’t going to go away just because you’ve made a derisive joke about how stupid more than 17 million people are.
A brief extract from my comedy series, The Cop Show.
It’s based on incompetent cops being incompetent.
Football is a game of opinion: fact.
I made this ground-breaking discovery whilst watching a few of my friends watching a football match on the telly. If I remember correctly, one football man did a sliding tackle against another football man in a different coloured jersey. There was a collision and one of them rolled around on the floor for a while. One of my comrades believed it to be a very good sliding tackle and that the referee had done well; the other did not and accused the referee of being blind/stupid/a w***er. I can’t remember which particular word was used, but these terms are, as far as I can tell, synonymous in footballing vocabulary.
My two friends had different opinions on the event in which both could not be simultaneously correct. The fervour of the argument reached fever pitch and led to a falling out between the two of them.
For the record, they’re cool now. Don’t worry.
At this point, the penny dropped. I realised that the simple having of an opinion and remaining immovable in holding it is the key to every football conversation ever. For me, this was a revelation. Simply having an opinion, no matter how stupid it is, is the key to the door of talking about football.
From this point forward, I decided to enter the fray of football discussions. From my subsequent forays into this uncharted territory, I have deduced three key phases in conversations about football. Allow me to provide you, dear reader, with a run-down of the key features of every conversation about football that has ever happened and, in doing so, how I have managed to blag my way into football conversations.
This is an easy step as the opinion can simply be made up. The more contentious the claim, I have found, the better. For example, you could claim that the latest star striker does not have the passion to score. It does not matter if the man in question is scoring as if he were in a brothel – the opinion does not have to be grounded in reality whatsoever. From my experiences, this first step will be met with a kind of appreciative derision. The conversation will move on, but the effort put in to the opinion will be appreciated nonetheless. At this point, you now have your foot in the door of football conversation.
This is a crucial stage in the opinion-having process. If people question your statement, you can give no quarter. Do not give them an inch. If anything, go further down the rabbit hole. To continue our example, claim that the star striker doesn’t have the discipline to make it at the top level. It doesn’t matter that man in question is at the training ground early, doing stomach crunches for fun. People will be incensed by your opinion and will probably offer an equally poorly thought through opinion in response.
The final stage in having a football opinion is not for the amateur opinion-haver. This last step requires at least some degree of knowledge about football. You need to know enough about football to know the name of at least one not-very-good footballer. I have only garnered this information through a process of osmosis as I have lived with football fans for some time. To place a beautiful cherry on the top of your made up football opinion sundae, simply state the you think that the aforementioned not-very-good player is better than the star striker you have been insulting. It helps if they play in the same position, but this is not mandatory. By this point, the other people will be so insulted that you have compared Mr. Star Striker to Average McAverageson that they will have entirely forgotten that your argument is pointless and that you know nothing about football.
These three stages show the evolution of every single football conversation. Every. Single. One. By following these three steps, I have become a fully-fledged football opinion-haver. I have gone out into the world and spread my poorly-reasoned gut feelings to any and all who will listen. People may think me a football guru. They would be wrong of course, but that won’t stop them from arguing about it until blue in the face.
After all, that is what every football opinion-haver has done since time immemorial.
Mr Cunningham Won’t Make it Through the Night
A short story by Adam Steedman Thake
“I always feared. That it would end this way,” he said, blankly. “I suppose it’s what. Everyone fears. Really. Deep down. Oh, spiders and the dark. Are more immediate terrors. But no one wants. To end up like. This.”
His breathing was slow and shallow. The old synapses between brain and lung were firing more slowly. Words were becoming more and more difficult to force out, barely audible above the methodical beep of machines cataloguing his ebb.
“Now, now, don’t talk like that. It’s just one of those facts of life, right now you’re just about to take your next big step. Like your first day of school, it’s scary, but it’s exciting.”
“You’ve not been. Doing this long. Have you?” he said.
The young nurse sat beside his bed blushed. “You’re my first real patient who’s…” she paused to pick her next phrase.
She bowed her head. “I wasn’t going to say -”
“Well what good are you? Can’t cure me. Can’t even talk straight to me. What are you here for?” The exertion was too much. A sudden fit of coughing overcame him. The nurse shot to her feet to stop him falling out of bed as his whole body heaved and shook from the effort.
“I’m sorry.” she said solemnly, after he had stopped. “If you don’t want me here, I understand if-”
“No. Don’t leave.” He repositioned himself, sighing with relief as he sank back against his pillows. “You’re all I’ve got now. And. I don’t even. Know you.”
“I tried to call your daughter, but there was no answer. I’ll try again if you’d…” she gestured to leave, leaving her words unfinished.
“No. It’s all right. She wouldn’t come. Any way.”
“Don’t say that. I’m sure she would-”
“With all respect,” he interrupted, “even if we haven’t spoken. In years. I think I know. My Francesca. Better than you.”
“Of course, I didn’t mean to offend.”
“Don’t worry,” he smiled. “You didn’t. I’m the one. Who offended her.”
“What happened?” she realised too late the presumptuousness of her query.
“Now now. That would be. Telling,” he chuckled softly, before coughing took over. “I suppose. There’s no use. In hiding. Anymore.”
“I didn’t mean to pry.”
“You don’t mean. A lot of things. It appears,” a dry smile cracked his lips, sending ripples of wrinkles up his cheeks. “I. I was not. A good man,” he continued. “I left. I left Francesca. I left her mother. I left them all.”
The nurse stayed silent, waiting for the story to continue. She leant in, to hear his weak voice more clearly.
“She was young. Francesca. But not young enough. To not know. What I was doing. She knew. She knew I. I had betrayed. Her and her mother. I had no reason. Greed? We were happy. But I wanted. The forbidden. Fruit.”
“You had an affair? That’s not that bad. I mean, it isn’t great, but -”
“If only it. Was so simple.” He shook his head, meekly. “I left them. Not for another. Just for me. To be alone. I wanted. To be free. I wanted. To live. I chose myself. I didn’t choose. Francesca. After I left. I tried to apologise. I tried to make amends. But Franny-” he paused as a slight quiver passed over his bottom lip. He bit it. “Now look at me. A life free. But a life. Wasted. Alone. Here. Dying. Telling you the sad, old story. Of a sad, old man.”
Another coughing fit engulfed him. Again, the nurse assumed the role of anchor. Spluttering and sweating, he clung to the nurse’s overalls. Great rasping breaths bled into crashing coughs, the body trying to expel the irremovable from the lungs. When he had finished, a red spatter dotted her smock.
“Blood,” he began. “Sorry.”
“If you want to alleviate the pain, you can always press the morphine button. It’ll make it easier.”
“If I do. Will-”
“You’ll just drop off to sleep. You won’t feel a thing.”
“No. I mean. Will you…”
“I’ll still be here.”
He smiled, quietly, settling himself back into bed. With one hand, he held hers. With the other, he gently thumbed the button.
“Thank you. I’m glad. You’re here. Franny.”