Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Clever words, paper birds
Hello lovely blogchums. It's been a busy, tiring but ultimately satisfying week so far. And it's only Wednesday! It feels like Friday though. Good crikey, how I wish it were.
I work 10 hour days so that I can have an extra day off per week. This is usually a Monday and I use this day for meetings, visits etc. relating to the writing and illustrating side of my life. I also utilise the evenings in the same way so as not to interfere with my 40 hour working week as a copper. So, Monday was a day in which I went out, took some photos for reference, wrote a couple of short features and managed another chapter of the new book. But then, rather than chilling out in front of the TV with Jack Bauer, I headed into London for the recording of Season 2 Episode 1 of John Lloyd's masterful Museum of Curiosity.
Now, if you've not discovered this little treasure yet, it's a half hour long show that plays on BBC Radio 4. The concept is simple; John is the Professor of Ignorance at the museum, which is an entirely imaginary structure so vast that it can house anything. During each show, the Professor and his curator ask three invited guests to provide a new exhibit for the museum. The only proviso is that the object must be something that provokes curiosity, fascination and enquiry. In Season 1 we had some truly extraordinary donations: actor Brian Blessed presented the Yeti, Alan Davies suggested the whole of Epping Forest, Professor Ronald Hutton added the murder of Father Christmas (by the American import Santa), and comic writer Ben Elton wanted to preserve the concept of privacy as it seemed to be on the verge of extinction. Other donations included the notion of Nothingness, the battle of Waterloo, dadaist Arthur Craven, a pineapple and the hairy angler fish. The curator - Bill Bailey in Season 1 and now Sean Lock - then decides where in the museum the object should go. It's a great format that generates clever and witty discussion and it's a must for anyone who enjoys shows like John's other recent great creation QI. So imagine how lucky I felt when I was invited to sit in on all six episode recordings this year.
The show may just be half an hour's duration ... but there is so much more to enjoy. John, Sean and guests easily fill two hours per recording and it's a huge shame that 3/4 of the show never makes it to air. The hours simply flew by. Monday's recording featured Brian Eno, Dave Gorman and Viz magazine co-creator Chris Donald. I won't spoil your listening enjoyment by revealing any of the content but it was endlessly fascinating and full of belly laughs. The show goes out in May I believe. I had the opportunity to chat to them all later, which was excellent ... but it did mean me getting home at 1.30am.
Then I was up at 5.30am and back in toLondon again for 7am, where I worked another 10 hour day and then watched Episode 2 being recorded. This time the guests were Simon 'Bang!' Singh, Gavin 'Cloud-spotter' Pretor-Pinney and the extraordinary madman that is Tim Fitzhigham; a man who has rowed across the English Channel in a Thomas Crapper roll-top copper bathtub and lived in a Spanish cave while emulating Don Quixote. Then more drinks and chats, home again at 1.30am ... and back into London for 7am once more this morning.
I was so tired this morning that I was hallucinating ... or were there really small colourful origami birds hanging from the handrails of the Underground trains? Of course, they were the first suggestions of protest by the anti-capitalist eco-warriors who descended on London in their thousands today to rail and rant against the G20 summit. Each of these birds bore a hand-written message such as 'Live simply so others can simply live' and 'No new coal'. Nice. If only that were the extent of their protest. Sadly, despite agreeing with much of what they stand for, I can't approve their methods and watching the window-smashing and violence later made me sad. They're not doing their cause any good and will lose much public sympathy I suspect. Luckily, I only saw it all from a distance as I skirted past and headed towards Earls Court. I've been a copper for over 29 years ... the young ones can handle the rioters now.
And, as if to prove what an old bugger I've become, I'm off to bed. After all, it's gone 10pm.
Night all. Yawn.