Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Cheltenham Screenwriters Festival....

What a brilliant occasion this is.
Me and Sy have been a couple of times- him being a writer and all that-and would have loved to have gone this year.
But funds, sadly, dictated otherwise.
Loads of interesting people, writers well known and unknown alike, all mixing and sharing information and tips on the industry.
Hi-lites on past visits for me, include being at a fantastic lecture by Jimmy McGovern ( The lakes, Cracker, etc) and seeing Sy chair a talk by Debbie Isitt, who wrote and directed the British film 'Confetti'.
Isn't it funny though, how even if you are not a writer, you can get something out of an occasion such as this.
Sy had gone into a lecture that held no interest for me whatsoever- probably something to do with story arcs, or spelling (you all know me!)
I pottered off down to the tea tent -the real place for networking- and eventually got to the front of the queue, after a lot of people asking me what i was working on (my only acceptable answer being, 'i'm working on trying to get a cuppa'.)
A man slid into the queue next to me, and heads were bowed in awe.
This was obviously someone who,
1; Everyone there knew, including the people serving the tea.
2; Himself knew he was important enough to be able to slide into the front of a queue without any questions or threats of throat slitting or knee-capping.
The gentleman smiled at me and then asked the girl behind the counter for a green tea.
'I like to try and stay healthy' he murmered.
In the same breath, he whipped a pipe out of his top pocket.
'But one has to have one vice. do you have a light at all?'
I had absoulutely no idea who this man was.
But i did have a light.
'Would you care to share a table with me?' he enquired.
I looked around at the Screenwriters who were all muttering various things.
Manily, what had this girl got that this famous Screenwriter wanted?
I let him lead the way to a table.
We talked. A lot.
Not about Screenwriting, but about the area, the people, the scenery, and the house he was looking to buy a few miles from where me and Sy lived. I told him that my husband was a writer.
He then asked me what i was writing.
At which point, i would have given the earth to be able to say that i was actually a writer.
But i'm not. So i told him about being a housekeeper.
His face lit up.
'I need a housekeeper, when i move into my new house. Will you take my details and think about coming to work for me? You are exactly what i need- you know how writers work.'

He left me to my tea at that point, as he was due to give one of the biggest lectures at the festival.
Sy came and found me, and i showed him the scrap of paper with the Screenwriters details, and told him about my own little meeting.
I thought he was going to faint.
I'm not going to say who the writer was. But you would all know his work.
I gave his offer a lot of thought.
In the end, i turned it down. Why?
Because i know already exactly what it is like to look after a writer.
And no amount of money in the world would make me look after two of them.
I sometimes wonder if i possibly got more out of that festival than many of the writers.
Till next time,
Shakespeare's Housekeeper x

Thursday, 8 October 2009

How to give a writers wife a good time.

The Writer took me out last week.
Yes, that's right. Don't go fainting or anything silly.
'There's this rather interesting meeting with a talk i'd like to go to Sprouty, about happiness.'
'Aren't you happy then?' i ask The Writer.
'Of course i am, but i think that it may be useful to hear what the chap says...research and all that. Will you come?'
I pondered this for a minute or two, and weighed up the other options.
Darling Daughter was off to the 'Mop'- local to us, a fair that comes round once a year, originally a gathering of local trades people who would show their skills once a year in a bid to get employment. I believe that maids would wear their mop caps, hence the name.
Now, it is a funfair, with smashing rides and you get a chance to win goldfish- and then have bets at school to see whose is going to survive more than a week.
i don't think i've ever missed one, in all my 43 years- but  things change, and i'm not too keen on the thought of a load of teenagers screaming in my ear and trying to escape them but falling over all the pushchairs in my haste to get away.
I'm getting so old.
And i couldn't find anything remotely interesting to watch on the telly, either.
With all escape routes cut off, i said i'd go with him.
'It is free, Sprouty.'
Well, what's a girl to do?
We drive into town, having set off early to make our way through all the Mop paraphernalia (i did very nearly pull up and park...just find it so hard to resist all the twinkly lights..) and eventually got to the hall where the talk was being held.
There's a man outside.
'Is this where the meeting is?' asks Sy.
The man looks at us both- up and down.
'Yes. both of you then?'
I detect a note of pity in his voice, but i think i'm imagining it.
'You go first,' i whisper to Sy, giving him a huge shove that propels him through a set of double doors.
It's like being in a hospital- very clean, sterile and bright.
A man hurries over to us, and welcomes us.
'Have you come far?' he enquires.
'Only from the over the hill,' i explain, while trying to take in the surroundings.
Behind him are two women sat at a table, laminating posters.
I can't quite make out what they say.
I would have hoped there would be a few more for this meeting.
The two women look up at us and smile quietly.
This doesn't feel quite right, somehow.
'We're here for the meeting,' explains Sy. 'Do we sit around the table then?'
'Yes, yes! do come and sit down- you can introduce yourselves when the others get here..they shouldn't be long now.'
I'm really getting nervous now- this isn't what i was expecting at all. I glance at Sy and he's got a horridly hunted look in his eyes.
'Go on- ask him again about the meeting. Ask him who is giving the lecture!' i hiss.
Sy clears his throat.
'This meeting then- how did you manage to book this lecturer? Would he be local? We can't wait to find out more about this whole happiness thing....' Sy's words die on his lips as the mans face drops.

'You do know you're at an AA meeting, don't you?
No, we bloody didn't.
I almost- so very nearly- said it.
'You stay then, Sy, and i'll come back in an hour.

We found the meeting come talk we were looking for in another room.
And actually, it was very good.
Sy didn't fall asleep once, so it must have held something interesting for him.
Till next time,
Shakespeare's Housekeeper. xx

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