Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Foldy Roll

The currently breaking story of the Twitter troll who has been arrested after he sent horrifically offensive tweets has really caught my attention this morning. The incident caught the world's (for world's, read Twitter's) attention when he tweeted Olympic diver Tom Daley.

Since the Troll was highlighted, there's been a big mix of reactions. Some people saying they were thrilled to see him brought to answer for his actions, but some surprised me by scoffing at the seriousness with which this situation has been taken.

I'm all for pushing a joke as far as you can. I certainly wouldn't describe myself as a fan of heavy censorship. However, I think there's a big difference between joking, and aiming abuse at someone. Some comparisons have been made between this incident and the Twitter joke trial. I can see why, however, the big difference in my opinion is that this tweet was sent directly to someone with an intention for them to see it.

I find it highly unbelievable that Paul Chambers (Twitter Joke Trial) believed that anyone would take his tweet seriously, or that the powers that be at Robin Hood Airport would see it and act upon it. It was a reaction, published personal reaction not a delivered statement of malice. The troll in the Tom Daley case had sent his direct message personally to the young diver. To me that shows a remarkable statement of perverse intent that shouldn't be ignored as a huge differentiating factor.

I do believe that by putting yourself in the public eye you open yourself up to criticism as well as praise for what you do. But, while you have to understand that not everyone's going to love you, you don't have to be bullied online just because it feels more anonymous to the person putting the abuse out there.

Since I started doing comedy I've dealt with the highs and lows of social media attention, and I wouldn't even say I was anywhere near in the spotlight or the height of my game. I've received attention from people who've seen me gig that's made me genuinely scared to go to gigs by myself in case they turn up. While I'm prepared to be told I'm not funny, I'm not cool with being intimated into stopping. The only thing that will stop me doing comedy is me (and low ticket sales/bad reviews/never getting an open spot at The Glee).

While, having researched this particular Troll's twitter feed, I am pretty convinced he doesn't deserve jail (probably a cuddle and some self esteem) I do think it can only be a positive thing for the world if people start understanding that celebrities/athletes/midget comedians are still people too and there's a good chance that negativity you send their way will reach them. By all means have an opinion, hate them and criticise them,  but if you're going to publish it then don't publish it by nailing it to their front door. Create a balanced summation of your thoughts and put it out there for consideration - even 140 characters is long enough for the vast majority of Trolls to have an introduction, main argument and a conclusion.

Friday, July 27, 2012

No (you're) Mad

I swear I never feel more like sitting down to do some writing than when all my possessions are heaped across a room that I'm attempting to move out of. This is very much the case right now. I feel like I've earned a break having just unloaded a fridge full of things that had set up better civilisations than the human race.

What with moving house, leaving for Edinburgh tomorrow and the imminent Olympic ceremony everything's feeling scarily like those crafty Mayans might just have been right. Is this the end of the world or do I just really hate packing?

Because I really do hate packing.

Since I left University in 2009 I have lived in 9 different places (and that's only counting Edinburgh once - if I counted each time I'd been it would be 11 separate living arrangements in 3 years). That's an awful lot of times to have to evaluate the heap of crap in front of you and ask if it was healthy to still be wearing bras bought in 2009.

It's amazing how much can happen in 3 years. 9 houses can happen in 3 years. In the last 3 years I have acquired (in order of importance):

* 2 beautiful nephews
* a grown up flat to live in like a proper grown up
* lifelong memories of Lapland, elves and some brilliant friends
* a fledgling comedy career
* some incredible house mates
* a tonne of confidence
* status as a Brightonian
* a grown up job in the city
* more cellulite than I would have liked

In the last 3 years I have lost:

* some incredible house mates
* a grown up job in the city
* my status as a Londoner
* at least 6 inches of height due to a tobogganing accident
* my copy of Goodfellas on DVD

That list took close to 45 minutes to pull together, and were it not for the heap of crap taunting me I could probably make it much longer. It's been a hell of a 3 years. If all 3 years are going to be like this then I'm going to be properly wrinkled by my mid-thirties. Mind you, if I carry on at this rate then by the time I'm 37 I'll have lived in another 44 dwellings so I think I'll be a bag lady living under a box with a mangy beagle to keep me company while I sing show tunes into a lampshade.

We're forecast a storm tonight in Brighton. I'm not sure if the weather men could possibly have known I'd feel so blustery at what appears to be the end of yet another era, but I think we'll have incoming showers by midnight.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Things I Have Realised

Today I realised two very separate things:

1. I prefer sports that have an ongoing narrative structure.

Ever since Euro 2012, which I tried very hard to watch, I have been trying to work out what it is I dislike about the game of football. I am specifically talking about the game as it is played on the pitch, leaving all the cultural add ons to one side, I do not like the game of football.

I like some sports and I couldn't work out what didn't engage me about football. I'd focused on a few things which were helping me hone in:

a) I don't like spitting.
b)I don't like the way tactics can involve learning when to cheat.
c) I can't pick out the impressive parts.

I have never watched much football, the only games I've seen are televised international matches. Because of this, I have no concept that what the people on the pitch are doing is in any way impressive. If you haven't seen bad football, you can't comprehend why international level football is excellent. All the little flicks and passes and tactics that are arguably genius, just look like the basics of what it is to play any football to the untrained eye. When I watch cricket I know what to look for which makes the game more fulfilling, with football my interest only piques when the ball goes somewhere near the goal. That leaves an awful lot of the pitch containing some boring men running around with a ball for no reason. There's no comprehension of how the middle of the pitch builds the pressure and the choices and the reactions at the ends of the pitch.

The breakthrough I came to in terms of my initial "narrative" realisation came when I was watching the tennis. I realised that I enjoy the way, whenever a point is started in tennis, that point is going to be allocated to one of the players. There will be an outcome. This makes tennis much more about the ongoing pattern of the narrative. Football, it seems to my uneducated eye, is more about the big events in the play.

I could be coming across as a complete idiot here. I hope this doesn't seem like ignorant football bashing, I've really been working hard to assess why I don't understand and enjoy football as much as everyone else seems to. It's very isolating for your national game to receive so much hype and yet be a completely alien idea to you.

2. I am still hoping in the back of my mind that my legs will grow out in time for my wedding.

Today, when wasting time allocated to admin by browsing wedding dresses I have no cause to be browsing, I realised that in my head I am at least 5'6" when I get married. This is not going to be the case is it?

As We Know It - Jesus Relate

The following is a new piece for a larger writing project called "As We Know It" that I'm currently working on. There are other excerpts scattered around the blog should you want to look at them so this makes sense. Feel free not to!


If Hamish wasn’t going to answer the questions seriously, then she wasn’t going to bother holding his hand to increase the positive energy between them. She shuffled a few inches away from him on the cream sofa.

Jesus sighed.

Things like this had been a lot easier when you were allowed to throw stones at each other. He strongly suspected instructing Hamish to launch a rock at Sarah’s head would land both of them in a fair bit of hot water with Mrs Shoe. She was on the militant end of the feminism scale, sort of where you’d expect Pol Pot to be had he been born with less appendages.

Hamish was sat very still on the sofa. His newly emptied hand was faintly clammy and quivering with nervous tension. He was fighting the tiny voice in his head that told him to stand up and go and tug Jesus’ beard. He absolutely couldn’t possibly be Jesus. Jesus could not be in the living room holding a copy of “Relationships: Sowing The Benefits” and trying to persuade his girlfriend that race was not an issue. Jesus could not be ginger.

He thought if he could just get to the beard he might be able to cover up the experimental tug with a complicated American sportsman style hug. Unfortunately, Jesus was rummaging in his bag for his reading glasses so he could check whether page 4 actually read “Focus on the levels of devastation you would feel should your partner come to farm.”

Privately, Jesus was hoping it did say “farm”. Farming was safer ground... if these two had fields to plough and cattle to keep alive then they’d have less time to bicker about sun tans and ages past cultural diversity. They’d barely have time to regret the marriage of convenience their parents had bartered them into if they were exhausted and covered in dirt.

Marriage had been simpler back when no one had really wanted to do it. These days, everyone wanted to make a meal out of it. “Marriage isn’t a buffet,” Jesus was fond of saying (although it hadn’t made the final edit), “You can’t just pick the bits you want. Marriage is a compulsory 60 year a la carte continuous delivery of courses. And some of the courses are gross. Think about that, and if it seems too much then perhaps just get a sandwich.”

Although, of course, all that sandwich advice had backfired massively with a sharp increase in the level of prostitution in towns Jesus had visited recently. That hadn’t gone down well with the folks up top. Even Jesus’ insistence that any increase in employment rates was a positive in an emerging planet’s economy had fallen on deaf ears. You couldn’t win with some people.

The trouble was, Jesus had never been married. Or, not officially so as the news was likely to travel back home anyway. He was a special mission, no time for fancy distractions. A marriage on the grounds of research purposes was morally repugnant for a man pedalling the next best religion since the one with all the sitting down. Besides which, there were very strict limitations on what you could and couldn’t claim as a business expense when you were staying away. Jesus had always assumed the alimony he’d likely end up paying would not be tax deductable.

Sarah spent a few moments analysing the expression on Jesus’ face. He looked troubled, either the glasses were the wrong prescription or he had just noticed the title of the book he was reading from. It had never occurred to her in her wildest dreams that even the Holy Trinity would succumb to some bad eBay choices too. “Only human, I suppose.”
“Maybe we could break for lunch?” She ventured, hoping the manners she’d learnt in case she was invited for tea with the Queen were going to be good enough for the Prince of Men. “I’ve got some bread.”

“He can’t have bread.” Said Hamish.

“Why not?” Said Sarah.

Jesus looked up from his book.

“It’s got yeast in it.”


“He can’t have yeast.”

Jesus wondered briefly what yeast was and why he couldn’t have it.

“Why not?” Said Sarah.

“I don’t know. It just says it in the Bible, doesn’t it.”

“What? Where?”

“In the Egyptian bit. They baked unleavened bread to go out with Moses.”

“Actually that was a bit before my time...” Jesus began.

“I don’t think they did it because he was allergic or anything.” Interrupted Sarah, “I think it was more a case of them not having time for the bread to rise because they were in a hurry to get away.”

“Oh,” Said Hamish thoughtfully, “So, does bread only take so long to cook because of the rising? Is it technically edible earlier?”

“I don’t know, I would imagine it’d give you a stomach ache.”

“Excuse me?” Said Jesus amicably.

“Yes?” Said Sarah.

“Well, I just wondered if we were going to be baking bread for lunch?”

“No, I’ve got some in the cupboard.” Said Sarah.

“Well then, we needn’t continue this conversation any further.” Replied Jesus and he shut the book and led the way into the kitchen to fix himself a sandwich. He was particularly interested in a new invention he’d got wind of involving butter and peanuts, although not necessarily in that order.