Me me me me me

Because I’m properly freelancing (rather than longer-term contracting) again, I thought I’d better write a professional-sounding About page like what professional-sounding people have. I’m probably all the more in need of one as I binned my LinkedIn account because, well, I just couldn’t stand LinkedIn any more.

Anyway, this is all very embarrassing, and unless you have some interest in giving me money, I’d genuinely prefer it if you didn’t read it. Anyway I don’t want your money. You’re my friend. This is more for people that get here from a link I put in an email, the credulous idiots.

Honestly, I don’t know how people suspend the shame long enough to write one of these well. I splatted mine out in about two minutes, and mostly with my eyes shut. Actually, I’m even sorry I’ve made you read this post. I feel I ought to palm you off with another joke. Here it is: Why do cows moo? Because maa, mee and mii would sound stupid, and muu has a somewhat ambiguous pronunciation. Boomtish.

Tripod rescue: a true story

I knew something was up when J approached me with some fish on a stick. It was tinned mackerel on what appeared to be a fencing slat. “It’s under number 3’s shed.”

There was no doubt as to the identity of the it in question. About half an hour earlier, a neighbour had asked to have a look around our garden. About a fortnight before that he’d come to ask if we’d seen his cat – a cat with only three legs.

I’d wondered what had become of Tripod, as my inner monologue had taken to calling the cat, in the intervening period. I hoped that, had it met its end, it was a merciful one, rather than, say, being scared out of its wits by our pair of whippets and bolting under a hedge into the maw of a passing plough .

But it turns out he, for he he was, had set up camp under next door’s shed. The neighbour had been leaving food out for it, and it was being eaten. And he knew it was eaten by the cat and not rats or the village peacock because he’d come over all Chris Packham and set up some motion cameras in his garden to prove it.

Judging by the sound it made under the shed, Tripod was terrified. Who knows what trauma caused the loss of limb, but one had to feel for him, seeking retirement in these quiet, pastoral lands only to be housed with three small children, almost certainly rather too keen for feline entertainment. No wonder he’d escaped.

J enlisted my help to man one corner of the shed, should Tripod bolt for it. Between them, and in defiance of all conventional mathematics, J and Tripod’s owner somehow watched the other three. Partly by tempting Tripod out with the fishy stick, partly by encouraging him out with a pole and partly by stamping on the shed floor, we managed to sufficiently scare the shit out of Tripod to the point at which he did indeed make a run for it – it being absolutely anywhere else.

At this point, two things surprised me. One was the speed with which three-legged cats can move. I don’t know if Tripod is representative of all three-legged cats, but he moved fucking fast. I can only conclude either that three-legged cats are faster than four-legged cats, or cats that live with a 1:1 ratio of their own legs to cohabiting children are forced to be rather fleeter than others.

The other thing that surprised was that, while in exile, Tripod had clearly gained a detailed knowledge of the fences and hedges all along our row, and knew exactly where to gain ingress to the next garden. Mind you, the neighbour was just as spry. Every time I turned around he seemed to be in a different garden. I assume he was vaulting fences, but the evidence equally suggests that he was apparating. (He does own a cat, and all that.)

Clearly I had underestimated Tripod, so I slunk inside to mentally regroup. By this point he was three gardens along and his owner was lying unceremoniously under a tall coniferous hedge trying to retrieve him. By this point other neighbours had gathered. J came to retrieve me, took me to said garden and told me where to stand – blocking Tripod’s potential exit from the garden via the gate behind me. I felt a bit like I imagine Alec Stewart felt keeping wicket for England.

Success! Our neighbour had caught hold of Tripod, and was hugging him close to his chest. This was in spite of a flurry of dubious advice from another neighbour in the build-up, like “you’re going to have to be brutal with it.” The only problem now was that he was completely stuck, so low was the hedge he was under and so deep was the extent of his penetration.

J and I were forced to pull him out by his legs which was awkward because we were wedged in by a shed and lacked the necessary room to do this effectively. And it was awkward because we barely knew him.

When we pulled him out he looked like he’d been pulled through a hedge backwards, mainly because he’d been pulled through a hedge backwards. At this point he thanked us and took Tripod home, presumably to be locked in the cat dungeon he’s had two weeks to construct. (He seems quite handy.)

We offered the neighbour the rest of the tin of mackerel. Actually, we were offering it to Tripod, but we used the neighbour as an interpreter.

“Just pop it on his box,” the neighbour said. So we did. And that, friends, is the story of how we, in a very small way, helped in the rescue of a three-legged cat by pulling a man out of a hedge.

Roll with it

While I figure out how to add a linkroll to a sidebar in the newer, simpler back end, I was very pleased to see Flip Flop Flyin’s colourful, minimal, often-pixelly art happenings are still, er, happening. Much inspiration there. What would a FFF for words look like, I wonder?

Crawl space

Here’s the Phantom Menace’s opening crawl. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s the words that scroll up the screen at the beginning of the film to tee up the plot:

Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.

Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo.

While the congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict….

It’s not easy to un-Trade Federation that, but I’ll give it a go. It also needs a re-jig for visual balance. You want three roughly equal-length paragraphs, I’d have thought.

Here’s a rough first stab at a Shadows of the Force rewrite (complete with deliberately-incorrect four-point ellipsis), hastily tapped out before I need to pick up LT from school:

These are dangerous times for the Republic. Sinister forces, wielding the power of the dark side, conspire to end centuries of peace and prosperity.

In the outer rim, deadly battleships have entered orbit around the beautiful planet of Naboo. Their official mission is diplomacy; their true purpose is war.

Working in secret, the Jedi Council and leaders of the Senate have dispatched Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi to maintain peace and justice in the galaxy….

There. It’s far from perfect and I’m sure I’ll tinker with it some more as and when I dive into the script. It deliberately foreshadows opening crawls of “later” episodes, which I think is fine.

It punts out some plot specifics (which will need to change anyway) in favour of just generally setting the mood, which I think should be “erk, here comes the dark side”. I think it partly. achieves that. Oh, and it namechecks Obi-Wan (with a promotion to Jedi Knight) so you know a beloved character will be in the thick of the action from the get-go. I may bin off Qui-Gon entirely – we’ll see.

And that’s it for now, really. Er. Goodbye!

Star Wars Episode I – Shadows of the Force

I want this blog to be fun, more than anything. Fun to write, and perhaps even fun to read. I don’t know why I ever thought of that before. So I’ve come up with this incredibly self-indulgent idea to redraft the script of Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace. I know.

I’ve always thought that being a script doctor sounded about the most fun job in the world, so why not have a whirl at it for a bit of a giggle? And do something Star Wars-y to boot.

Anyway, I’m not going to tackle all that in one go. I’m just going to poke at it here and there when I fancy it: in a series of blog posts! I’ve already started, with the title, which I reckon should be Shadows of the Force instead of The Phantom Menace. Yes, I know Shadows of the Empire was a revered piece of universe expansion with a similar name, but I’m not going to worry about that. This is just for fun.

Similarly, I don’t want to get into what’s right and wrong with The Phantom Menace. I’m just going to trust my writerly instincts and change what they say to change.

Off the top of my head, here are things I think I’m probably going to change:

  1. The title (done! ✅)
  2. The Trade Federation – get all the trade stuff out and make this a straightforward tale of good and evil, because it’s Star Wars.
  3. Character names – this is tricky and subjective, but I think since the original trilogy most character names are pretty bad in the way Isaac Asimov character names tend to be pretty bad.
  4. Midichlorians be gone.
  5. Last but not least, cheesy dialogue, which for me, is in no short supply.

I don’t mean to dump on the Phantom Menace – enough of that’s gone on and it’s become beyond ugly. And I’m not saying anything I can poke at will be any better. Once again, this is just a self-indulgent exercise for my own amusement (which I’m definitely going to finish because James the tinkerer is dead.)

So there we are. You can track progress with the #shadowsoftheforce tag over in the projects section of the sidebar →


I’m gonna use this place for creative stuff, which is a bit of a first for me, and a bit on the scary side, I’ll be honest.

So I’m starting out gently resurrecting an old idea I never got off the ground: Land’s End to John O’Groats in 100 limericks. But, now I think of it, the limericks should probably say something about modern Britain. So I’ll have to tinker with the first one. Have to have an angle, and all that.

Should be doable, shouldn’t it? Here’s the tag for these efforts: 100limericks. If I stick with it, I’ll stick em all in one place at some point. Probably when they feel like they’re swamping the blog.

And I am going to stick with it. That’s the new me. The tinkerer is dead.


Hello there!

I’m writing again; blogging again; internetting again – whatever you’d like to call it. It’s been a difficult sort of few years, but it’s time to put them behind me and kick on.

2019, though, has been a lovely year. I’ve figured out a lot about what makes me happy and what doesn’t – especially professionally. And the thing that makes me happy is writing. Not content design, strategy or marketing. Writing. And maybe editing. But mainly writing.

So coming out of a tunnel, it makes sense to have a blog again. I started blogging nearly as far back as blogging began, and have done it, on and off, ever since. Except lately. As I said, it’s been a difficult few years. But that’s not the point!

The point is: hello. I don’t know what this is yet, though I do have a few ideas. It is, I hope, going to be fun. You should stick around. Oh, and I’m back on Twitter, so do say hello if you’d like.

In summary: hello again!