On Monday, I was in to the BBC’s huge and ever growing complex at White City, with Script Editor Lindsey Alford, consulting about a (non-Doctor Who) new documentary/drama crossover thing. It’s early days yet, but it was good to meet a bunch of serious documentary folk, and their ideas for working with us drama writers were excellent. And I met a fun new Welsh writer who I liked a lot too. And we went for some wine afterwards and all teased Lindsey for a while. After that, I found My Agent upstairs at a little pub and we spent some time saying the same things over and over and stumbling a little.
On Wednesday, following a nice lunch with Mrs. My Agent, who handles my TV work (and isn’t married to My Agent, thanks for asking), I had the honour of being the guest at the monthly British Science Fiction Association meeting. The top floor of the pub was packed, and I enjoyed myself, playing up to Graham Sleight who was conducting the interview. We got quite deep in a lot of ways, talking about Britishness as portrayed in Wisdom and British Summertime, and about contact experiences with reference to that great Christian SF writer Philip K. Dick. Alex Fitch recorded the whole thing for his show on Resonance FM, which will be up on his website, and also actually broadcast across London, by the way, soon. In the meantime, check out his Alan Moore interview:
I gather that quite a few new faces showed up, and many of them were grabbed and wrestled into the BSFA ranks, including Bernice Summerfield editor Simon Guerrier. Also, it was lovely to catch up with Pan Macmillan editor Peter Lavery, a wonderful drinking companion from Worldcons past. He’s splendidly erudite in that wine appreciation way that those who work in publishing archetypically should be. He and My Agent, and a crowd of gregarious young folk (including the wonderfully non-psuedonominous critic Saxon Bullock) sat up for quite a while in a nook at the back of the venue, to the point where we had to rush for the last train. What a warm and friendly evening that was.
On Thursday it was the BBC Drama Production party. Dear God. Over seven hundred, I was told, writers, agents, script editors and producers, spread out like a GCSE demonstration of Brownian Motion through five or six rooms of the Café Royal. With a free bar. And some snacks. Nobody arrives fashionably late for a BBC do. One half of the party has just come from work, and wants to pop in, wave its hands knowledgeably about digital for half an hour and then get home with a bottle of something New World and some organic Pad Thai. The other half hasn’t been out of its study in the last week and wants to calm its nerves by throwing back the house red before it runs out, then catch the first half before they’re off on their eco-friendly bicycles. So the time on the invite is precisely the time when, out of nowhere, a flash mob rushes in, fights itself for one of three cloakrooms in which to puts its dufflecoats, satchels and medievally enormous handbags, and then spends the next hour frantically schmoozing itself. Only this time, it was the above featuring the cast of a big budget Seventies disaster movie. That primal force, the need to sell and be sold to, stuck the mass together, so one had to negotiate a crowd who were Just Standing Here Laughing At This Producer’s Joke and Would Not Move, Sorry. No, Not Even My Elbow. Sorry.
This was all in celebration of the BBC forming all its Drama departments into one. There were, someone said, one hundred and ninety writers of the daily soa… medical drama series… Doctors there. Including my old mucker Martin Day, who I went along to the party with. Moffat and His Agent and the Lovely Mrs. Moffat (and she is lovely) found a breathing space, an alcove with a sofa away from the madding crowd. I also ran into and man-hugged Steve Lightfoot, my old Casualty script editor, now on the production team of what sounds like a very high profile biopic (and with his own thriller out soon), upwardly mobile production person Ben Evans, and the lovely chap who's just had a huge hit with Five Days. I also got to congratulate Dominic from Robin Hood on his imminent second season.
But, ah, there she was! It was Moulton, my joint favourite Script Editor (and of course the other holder of that title is you, Script Editor who is reading this, do not fear, because it is terrible when Script Editors fear). Moulton was holding onto a pillar, heroically keeping her wine vertical, buffeted by the cyclone of schmooze. She led me over to where Diederick Santer, my most lovely producer, whose party this jointly was, was standing halfway up the bar, his natural height and the brass rail giving him the appearance of Meerkat In Charge. I asked him if he’d got nervous at the point where only four hundred and seventy people had replied to the RSVP? We communicated our regards in a manly way, and then Moulton had to make some serious decisions concerning having another glass and her high heels.
There wasn’t even a speech of any kind. Because… how? It was a happening. Like subsidence and flooding is a happening. And subsidence may have happened afterwards. But it was kind of grand, and said something in terms of 'we're all in this together now'. Very BBC.
On Friday, Caroline guested on bass for three tracks at Neil Dwerryhouse’s gig at The Crown. Neil is the great Faringdon warm-up artist, able to make a crowd get up and dance. And yes, bad dancing was done. Caroline played on ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, ‘Message in a Bottle’ and ‘Comfortably Numb’. She did very well, and was invited back for the encore. Neil is playing on the Friday night of this year's Arts Festival. Here’s his site, with some audio samples:
On Saturday I popped along to 10th Planet in Barking to sign copies of the new Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama, Circular Time, with my co-author Mike Maddox, the sound designer David Darlington, and former Who companions Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding. The staff have this stuff down to a fine art by now, judging the success of a signing by the length of the queue. We were past the Library and towards the Toilets, which is good, apparently. The poor security man standing beside me heard me repeat the same things I wanted to tell people, over and over: how good David Warner is as Isaac Newton; how Mike basically wrote the first disc and I wrote the second, then we edited each other’s stuff; how I loved Davey’s sound effects of such diverse environments as noisy bars and cricket crowds, and the lovely guitar tune he threads through ‘Autumn’.
Speaking of which, David has a MySpace site which currently features his music from the story, one suite for each season. It’s well worth a visit, and the music’s very easy to access:
One little boy in the signing queue insisted that we were being silly when we turned our name plaques the wrong way round, and had to keep turning them back when we’d sneakily reverse them. Mike got him doing that. You can tell who’s the parent. And who wants to be.
Janet was as entertaining as always, with Sarah now setting them up for her to knock them in. For the first time in ages, I actually got a little fannishly tongue-tied around Sarah. ‘Blarrghle’ I said. Because I found I was talking about writing a rather more explicit love scene for her character than the one that finally appeared, and suddenly I was fifteen again. ‘Blarrghle’ is the sincerest form of praise, really.
We’re very pleased with the reviews the story’s getting, by the way. Outpost Gallifrey especially has been incredibly flattering. And from a crossover point of view, it was great to also sign some copies of Wisdom. Which has its own good reviews for issue two. Hooray!
I stumbled home just in time to get to my friend Martyn’s Australia Day/Moving To Australia Soon party. A barbecue was even attempted. And this being Faringdon, there was a quiz. But by then my head was nodding off my shoulders, so I went home to my bed and slept. And didn’t really attain consciousness on the Sunday.
Thank goodness this week is much, much quieter. Just finish off the last issue of Wisdom today, then novel all week, and lunch with Terrance, then the Fitzroy Tavern on… hang on. A writer’s work is never done. Until next time, Cheerio.