Celtic Illumination, part 334, Tulips from hamster jam.
You can all stand easy as, thankfully, last night was an insult and threat free zone. But it was as I found myself sat sitting there, oiling my shotgun that it occurred to me that any sane and normal person would probably regard their life as being blighted if they had to have any sort of connection with Clancey whereas Clancey had probably been put in to my life on purpose. Having to admit that I knew him was probably a test the double top secret cabal had put me through, and still put me through, because Clancey, like a bad smell, is very difficult to get rid of. I wonder how many others among you have been put in place for a specific reason.
I often wondered if Murphy had been put in place to just annoy me for he was doing a fine job of it. I actually managed to catch him on the telephone and have it out with him. Using language that would be more common among dockers or miners, I spoke very plainly and told him exactly what I thought of him. I actually seemed to get through and connect with him. He apologised for having messed me about so much, agreed that he had read the first two Lily Savage novels and that he approved them and that he would try to hurry the publishers up. I asked that he contact Jeffrey and give him the details of the publisher. Murphy again agreed and we finished the conversation with me feeling that I had actually managed to achieve something.
I had written all that had been requested of me and had sent it off to the producer at Tiger Aspect, for the Lily Savage television show. I was nervous as even though I had short stories broadcast on the radio this was my first serious foray into the big bad world of television. I had met a fellow through the local writer’s circle who was writing for Brookside, a television soap opera set in Liverpool. Whereas I had followed what I considered to be an established almost classic approach to becoming a writer he had won a competition. He told me that he had seen a writing competition advertised in a newspaper he was reading, on a train, on his way back to the university he was attending. An idea sprung into his mind for the writing competition the moment he saw the advert and he began writing when he got back to his rooms.
He won the competition, which got him an agent, who then got him a job as a scriptwriter on this soap opera. He said he liked to write in freehand and would have a motorcycle courier collect his finished script, drive them across Liverpool to his father, who would type them up on his word processor and then have them couriered back. Do you think they were trying to make me jealous? He had even been given two episodes of a new detective series to write. It was about two British, retired, detectives living on a boat in Spain. He told me that he got a telephone call, one Friday lunchtime, asking him to fly to Spain as there was a problem with his script. So by early evening he finds himself flying out to Spain from Manchester airport.
Once in Spain he is taken directly on to the set where the problem with the script is addressed. It was only one scene so, taking guidance from the director, he goes off and writes a new scene, but the director has written a scene and the two main actors have also written a scene. He tells me that the two actors then act out all three scenes and ‘quelle surprise,’ the scene that the two actors have written is considered to be the best, so is kept in the programme. This angered my friend for not only was he flown back to Manchester the following morning, the two actors were now given writing credits for the show that he had written ninety nine per cent of.
So I was aware that writing for television could be full of shenanigans, even when at Lumb Bank, John Harvey had recounted a tale where he had written a four part television script for one of his novels for a television company. The company now decided that they didn’t want to proceed with the project so it was shelved. John Harvey found another company but they wanted it in three parts not four, so he had to re write the whole thing only to be turned down again. I suppose I had already had my own experience of this with having to write the ghost stories for Frank Bruno three times before having the whole project scrapped. So although it was exciting I was well aware that nothing was really agreed or finalised until the money was in my bank account.
I saw that Lily Savage was appearing on a television show, a morning magazine show with a husband and wife team presenting it. If I wanted to be nasty I should say an alcoholic and a shop lifter presented the show, but I’m far too nice to swing a punch at such a fine pair of media professionals. I was still using the old double video recorder and waited with my thumb hovering over the record button for Savage to come on screen. He came on his usual self, joking and cracking away. He was certainly on form and I secretly hoped he might at least mention the books, but he didn’t. Instead he began to speak about his new television show. He then went on to say that he had fired all the writers connected with the television show as they were all Oxford and Cambridge types with their heads so far up their own arses they knew absolutely nothing about Liverpool, the working classes or humour. He was now going to write the television show himself.
I don’t think anyone in their right mind would describe me as an Oxford of Cambridge type, so I hoped that O Grady was treating me as a ghost writer, which I didn’t really want to be for television work. It’s the sort of medium where you need your name to be out and about so that people who like your work will ask you to do more. I telephoned Tiger Aspect and got a hold of the show’s producer, the fellow who had spent forty five minutes giving me detailed instruction of what he wanted. He couldn’t apologise enough, claiming that he thought he had contacted everyone involved, but yes it was true O Grady was claiming that he was going to write the whole series himself. It was certainly a bit of a blow as that sort of writing is quite demanding and difficult.
I telephoned Jeffrey and explained what had happened and he commiserated with me, in fact he said that it was a pity the two books I had already written for O Grady were so good as the pair of them, O Grady and Murphy, were certainly toxic. Jeffrey then suggested that as they had telephoned me and given me a specific writing task I should bill them for the work I had produced. It made sense so with the help of the Writers and Artists year book I was able to work out exactly how much I should have been paid for the television work and sent a bill off to Tiger Aspect. I know that I had pushed for a three book deal with Murphy and O Grady but I wasn’t in the mood for them at all, in fact I wanted nothing to do with them anymore. I felt bad that my work would help build his status as a comedian and like Jeffrey wished I had never had the idea in the first place. It was sickening watching him appear on television pretending that he was a lovely, harmless, homosexual, who wouldn’t harm a fly, when in fact he was proving himself, as was his boyfriend Murphy, to be quite a nasty piece of work.
Paul O Grady wasn’t the only person being an arse, Chris Eubank was proving that he had perhaps suffered too may blows to the head during his boxing career and was making all sorts of daft suggestions. He may have been the perfect showman and someone who could front a book but with the experience I was getting of other celebrities I knew that perhaps it was better to pull away from him early rather than drag the whole thing out to infinity. I had found a couple of new clients anyway so was busy researching and thinking up more crazy storylines. I had spent an enjoyable afternoon with one of Irene’s uncles who had been employed as a docker on Liverpool docks during its heyday. He told such great and funny stories about life on the docks, about stuff going missing, by the truckload sometimes, but what got me the most was the names they had for certain jobs. If a crate was being lifted off a ship then the man who was responsible for placing it on a truck or on the dock was known as The Landerman. And so an idea came about for a book for the Liverpool comedian, Freddie Starr, a rip roaring comedy set in the Liverpool docks and the title, yep, you’ve guessed it, The Landerman. All we needed now was for him to stop biting the heads off hamsters.