Archive for October, 2011


At the Great Escape’s Halloween and premier party this weekend we had some freaky, fun cocktails. Here’s how to make the weirdest of the bunch:

What Lady Caught

Lady was not a very clever cat. She was getting a little old, she had lost a few teeth and she dribbled a bit. She often forgot things like what she was doing or where she was going.

Lady lived with another cat called Holly in a house with a family of people.

Holly was strong and athletic. She liked to hunt animals in the garden and bring them home, even full grown rabbits sometimes, which she had to drag through her cat flap backwards because they were so big. She would bring in her catch and then sit in the kitchen and meow at the top of her voice until someone came to congratulate her and tell her what a clever cat she had been. Or at least that was how Holly saw it. Her owners didn’t really like her bringing in all the local wild life.

Lady on the other hand never caught anything.

One evening, Lady and Holly’s family were sitting around in the lounge after a nice roast chicken dinner when suddenly they heard a meow from the kitchen.

“Go and see what Holly has caught now, will you?” said Mum.

Sophie sighed and got up from her comfy chair. With her dinner sitting in her belly making her sleepy she didn’t really want to have to bury a small dead creature.

As proud as Holly usually was of her presents, she didn’t always like giving them up so Sophie approached quietly and kept the lights off.

Meow!

Wait, that didn’t sound like Holly. “Lady?”

Meow! Lady sounded very proud of something.

Sophie flicked the light on. “It’s not Holly, Mum, it’s Lady,” she called to the other room. “What have you got there, Lady?”

Meow! Lady batted what she’d caught with her paw and then licked it. It was round and flat; certainly not mouse or a vole or anything like that.

Mum appeared at the door. “What has she caught?”

Sophie moved closer. “I’m not sure, I think it might be a slice of pork.”

Lady picked up her prize in her mouth and tried to keep it away from Sophie but the girl reached over and pulled it away.

“Yep, it’s a slice of pork. And it still has apple sauce and gravy on it.”

Mum laughed. “Well that’s different. She must have stolen it from someone’s bin.” She took the piece of pork from Sophie and threw it away.

“Well done, Lady,” Sophie said, giving her a big cuddle. “What a clever cat you are.”

 

This is a true story. I couldn’t make something this silly up!


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© 2011 Chrissey Harrison. All rights reserved.

Great Escape – Writing competition

The Great Escape are running a writing competition this month. If you think you can write a Christmas themed short story then check it out.

Prizes include £10 Amazon vouchers, web publication on The Great Escape website and possible print publication in The Great Escape’s first print anthology in 2012.

The Great Escape - Christmas Writing Competition - click for more information.

I got to go out last night! I know this doesn’t sound like much, but money has been a bit tight and there have been a lot of nights in with the TV for me recently. So, what a lovely surprise it was a few days ago when my partner reminded me we had tickets for a show, which we had booked months ago and almost forgotten about.

Dave Gorman

We went to see Dave Gorman, a comedian we’ve seen before and have always found highly entertaining. If you don’t know who Dave Gorman is, he broke into mainstream entertainment with a stage show called Are you Dave Gorman? in which he travelled the globe meeting people with the same name as him. It later became a TV show.

Subsequent shows included his Googlewhack Adventure and The Important Astrology Experiment. More recently he produced a film called America Unchained where he travelled across the US seeking out local businesses to service his needs, avoiding all the chain stores and brands.

He has taken the humble slide show and developed it into a comic art form to the point that his current show is simply called Dave Gorman’s Powerpoint Presentation; he doesn’t even need to tell people the subject of his show to get bums on seats. He is supported on this tour by comedian and musician Jay Foreman.

Jay Foreman

Never heard of Jay Foreman? Neither had I. Indeed, my partner, Rich, leaned over and whispered “he’s Beardyman’s brother” in my ear, which I thought was a hilarious way for someone to be introduced (Beardyman, by the way is the UK beatboxing champion).

So, with absolutely no preconceptions, I sat and watched and listened and came away with at least two of his songs stuck in my head.

Jay’s musical comedy is all about getting you to laugh at things you shouldn’t and his set included such titles as “I’m Glad John Lennon Died”, “Little Japanese Baby” and “Chavs On The Moon.” (For any international readers, do you have chavs or are they just a British infestation?)

I highly recommend you check out some of his work on his YouTube channel.

Dave Gorman’s Powerpoint Presentation

For the main show, Dave Gorman stood in front of a huge back projected screen and basically talked about himself. Structured around his own vital statistics, he explored the relationship between his weight and getting married, his religion (or lack thereof) and his love of the internet.

The internet and more specifically Twitter formed a theme running through all of the segments and I think anyone who has ever spent an unhealthy amount of hours browsing and exploring the net would get his humour.

Two of the funniest moments in the show came from what Dave dubbed “found poems”. These he had compiled from the comments posted on the Daily Mail website in reaction to Jerry Seinfeld’s castigation of the Royal Wedding and the news that a French company will be making the flags for the London 2012 Olympics. I have to agree, reading the comments posted on newspaper sites can be an educational experience!

Although a lot of his humour is probably funnier if you are familiar with the British context, much of it is universal. For example, I’m sure asparagus does unpleasant things to people’s urine regardless of country.

Dave Gorman will be touring the country throughout the rest of October and November, so if he’s visiting a city near you I recommend you grab the opportunity to see him live. You’ll never look at Powerpoint as a boring business tool ever again.

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Check out this interview with Dave Gorman at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival earlier this year:

 

If you’re anything like me, you love making your characters run for their lives, climb mountains or go six rounds with a werewolf, but know you’d be screwed if it was you. Yes, I have trouble motivating myself to do exercise, and I’m sure I’m not alone. The cosmic irony in this is that I often write my best stuff when I’ve been exercising. Getting my blood pumping round my body gets the ideas pumping round my head it seems.

I’m trying to clamp onto this fact to encourage myself and I’ve decided to write a few blog posts on the subject, starting with something relatively un-strenuous; walking.

If you’ve ever passed someone in the street and heard them talking to themselves, that may have been me. I have been known to hold entire conversations with my characters and plot out complete scenes while on the move. And, sometimes, having to hold that idea in my head and go over it several times before I can get to a notepad or a laptop means that, when I do finally put words down on the page, they are better for it.

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Let’s go on a Description Walk

The benefits of thinking about your writing projects on the move are not always enough of an incentive to get up and go out for a walk, though, so I came up with the idea of a description walk. Not a new idea, I’m sure, but new to me.

I think this is best done with pen and paper, but if you prefer, or you don’t have those things on you, you can use a note taking program on a phone or laptop.

Start walking and look at what’s around you. Explore. Find some interesting things, take a moment to let them inspire you and describe them.

Use all of your senses. The important thing is that you write down your observations while you are there with the thing you are describing. Concentrate on what you get from the experience that you wouldn’t get from looking at a picture. If you have a camera you can take a picture to go with your description as a record for later, which is great it you want to blog about it later.

Here’s some more ideas:

  • Describe something you see every day. Look at it in a new way as if you are seeing it for the first time.
  • Describe a moment in time. Pause and watch something for a moment then describe the way it moves or changes in that moment.
  • Describe a feeling. Stop and think about the way something made you feel. Try to capture your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations for a complete picture.
  • Have an opinion. Let something you encounter inspire an opinion on some matter and describe it, including the link between what you encountered and the opinion.
  • Watch people. Take a moment to observe some people and describe their appearance, their actions and the thoughts they trigger in you.
  • Describe a sensation. Close your eyes and listen. Smell a flower. Try to find words to capture sounds, smells and the way things feel when you touch them.
  • Describe someone’s message or intention. The world is full of symbols and messages; pick one and describe what you perceive to be its message.
  • Describe the weather, and don’t just write “it’s sunny.” Observe and write down the unique aspects of the weather on that day, in that moment.
  • Be creative and/or write a poem. Although it’s called a description walk, you don’t need to restrict yourself to describing things. Write whatever you feel inspired to write, but let your surroundings be the source.

I hope next time you go for a walk you’ll take a pen and paper with you and see what sparks of creativity the world outside can ignite. Drop back with a comment or a link to your own post and share what you found.

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Here’s a few little bits from a walk I took

A large pond surrounded by green banks and reeds. The sky is overcast.POND

A gust of wind ripples the surface and turns it from dark green to a mottled, moving sea of dots, reflecting the pale grey of the sky. Close to the bank, close to me, the ripples advance like marching soldiers. The lines split and divide; a moving version of the pattern on a sandy beach left by the waves. They remind me of the ridges on a fingerprint.

A bright mural on the walls of a concrete underpassCAN DO

The sound of the traffic crossing the road behind me almost melds into a constant hum, like the roar of water along a passage, or blood along an artery, perhaps.

I lean on cold concrete and galvanized steel, but my eyes see a fairy tale; bright, primary colours; green hills, blue sky, yellow and red flowers. Everything  has a black outline, to keep it contained. The clouds are fluffy, the butterflies are bright and the sign says “can do.”

A castle, a lighthouse, a mine, a church. A school, a road, a park.

The people smile.

Can do.

An dark underpass tunnel. The exit appears as a square patch of light. DARK TUNNEL

I turn into the underpass, into a dark tunnel. The bright mural here is the sea; ducks above and fish below.

Dry leaves blow through from outside. The roaring traffic recedes.

Splashes of neon graffiti offend the innocent eyes of the cartoon ducks and fish with obscenities.

My footsteps echo behind me. That is an echo, right? The leaves rustle. My heart rate quickens. I have to look over my shoulder, but there is no one. Still, my blood pumps faster and I hurry on towards the light.

A view from beneath an elecricity pylon or towerPYLON

Triangles in triangles support each other towards the heavens. This is a monument to out drug, out life line. We are dependent on electricity.

I lay beneath the spidery metal tower, listening to the buzz of its current; billions of electrons passing, in every minute stretch of time, along wires no thicker than my finger, held aloft by this web of steel, insulated from the flowing juice by ceramic disks.

People say pylons are a blight on the landscape, but the crossing steel beams form a beautiful, intricate pattern against the pale grey sky, and the tower hums its music to me. Is it the tower or what it represents which makes us so uncomfortable? For if we will not admit to the addiction, why not embrace the monument to it?

Small green pods on a plant with pink flowers and light green leavesSNAPPING PODS

A smell triggers a memory. When I think about it, I cannot even pick out the smell, but the memory is there. I hunt for what I know will be there, even though I could not tell you how I know; snapping pods; little green seed pods with ridges along their length. They swell out then contract like a manhandled balloon.

I pick out a large one, a ripe one.

The smell, I realise as I bring my nose down, comes not from the flowers, but from the pods themselves; a musky, woody smell. Resinous.

I stroke one finger along the pod and “pop,” it splits. Little black seeds ping away. I jump and then laugh at myself for being silly.  The split pod now scrolls back like octopus arms.

No matter how many times I do it, I’m never ready for the pop and I always laugh.

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Creative Commons Licence The images in this post are original photographs by Chrissey Harrison and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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