Tuesday 08 February 2011

I am sometimes paranoid that I may prejudge everyone as a wanker – no really I am.  For the most part I am very happy with the judgement but occasionally I think – maybe I could be nicer, maybe I should give people a chance.  Maybe I shouldn’t think that everyone on the planet is a cunt who deserves to die – unless they prove me wrong.

It was in this positive frame of mind I went to see a talk/reading/interview with Dave Haslam and Frank Cottrell Boyce last night.  Rewind…

I got all excited about the release of Dave Haslam’s Manchester, England about 12 years ago (that’s not the link to the current print but the link to the one I had – and I liked that cover.  Was it the only thing I liked about the book, though?  Why not read on and find out?  Or just guess that I didn’t because it’s already pretty implicit that I don’t like most people).  The excitement sadly didn’t last as I read the book.  It wasn’t because the excitement turned to ecstasy either – it was because I didn’t think the book was very good.  This combined with occasionally seeing the tall brummy DJ spouting about Manchester on talking-head TV spots did not incline me to join the Dave Haslam fan club – and not just because he has not inspired a fan club, if he had I would still not have joined it.

So, that’s where I was at – nonplussed by Haslam.  However, I was excited about seeing the boy Cottrell Boyce as I loved a couple of scripts he’s scribed for a couple of underrated British films (24 Hour Party People and A Cock and Bull Story in particular) so I thought I’d best not bring it all down by going in there with a negative opinion of Dave Haslam.

The SS Feelgood did hit an iceberg quite quickly unfortunately – quite an odd iceberg, as it was an iceberg (it wasn’t really an iceberg, this is a metaphor kids) in the shape of the vacuum left by the complete absence of charisma Dave Haslam possesses.  Or doesn’t.   Let’s be clear this is not because he looks like what Fatboy Slim would look like 10 days after he had died.  Or because his voice was slow and annoying (and brummy) – ok, it is a bit.  It is because he was quite self-aggrandizing and seem to blame a sea-change in the way books are published for his lack of £50 million advance on his next book.  He did actually tell us what the advance was which I thought was a (a) a bit vulgar and (b) was a bit dismissive of how much money £15,000 is, but I wont say how much it was – perhaps the more ingenious amongst you can work it out (Just e-mail me with ‘fifteen grand’, as the subject of an email, including your answer and I will work out a prize befitting the challenge).

He was just a twat alright?  I’m sure it’s not all his fault – people who’ve had people blowing smoke up their arse for years often are – but he has to take a hefty amount of the blame.  I am pretty sure Cottrell Boyce has had just as much praise and he seemed completely lovely.  And the praise he would have received was justified rather than some people tell him he’d written a great book just because the only other thing he had ever done was put a few records on a record player and by contrast writing anything is an achievement.  Oh my I don’t like him do I?  AND..he seems to be some kind of unofficial cultural ambassador for Manchester.  NO-ONE with a Birmingham accent should be a cultural ambassador for anything, not even Birmingham and definitely not Manchester.

AND..he seemed to have a vendetta against Jamie Theakstone.  He mentioned him twice when attacking ‘I remember the…’ type shows.  Not in a way that could even be construed as amusing.  Just in a way that said ‘I am better than Jamie Theakstone’. Which seems an odd thing to say when you ARE NOT better than Jamie Theakstone and Dave Haslam is not better than Jamie Theakstone.

Enough…enough already.  I have spent too much time on hate.  As usual.  I just wanted to vent – is that ok?  My apologies to SMH & MJEA: they are two of my few regular readers and the former was my companion for the evening and so lived this and then talked about it after and the latter who met us at the end of the night only to be told all this by both of us, so they probably can’t be arsed with it all again.  Maybe they have stopped reading by now though. I would if I didn’t have to – I have tried stopping reading it before I finish typing it but I end up with complete gibberish .

I refuse to end on a negative, or by talking about Dave Haslam though.  So, I will end by saying what a truly interesting experience listening to Frank Cottrell Boyce speak about anything was.  He was charming and illuminating whilst remaining gracious and sincere.   He was particularly interesting on the subject of The Reader organisation that he does a lot of work with: read more about it here: http://thereader.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/ (I’d urge you to make a donation to the cause but I’ve been trying to for 10 minutes and can’t figure out how to – use paypal is a bit too vague for me) .  And anyone talking about Steve Coogan any Tony Wilson with warmth is alright by me.

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2 Responses to Tuesday 08 February 2011

  1. Dave Haslam says:

    Apologies for my slow and annoying voice. I don’t think I look as bad as you suggest, though. Frank C-B said I was looking great, he said it twice actually. But maybe under the glare of those very bright lights I looked like a very dead Fatboy Slim.

    It was an odd format I think. Ten years ago I interviewed Frank at the Cornerhouse and that was good mainly because everyone knew what kind of night it was, and I was able to go into some depth with Frank about his screenplays in particular. But last week I felt it was a bit odd, having like a 50/50 split, and you may not believe this but in the past I have been called self-deprecating, but I guess being onstage at an event that has been billed as me talking half the time about my writing and my work then I went up a started aggrandizing instead of deprecating myself. I wasn’t enjoying myself.

    The cultural amabassador role I’m also not that comfortable with, but when someone from Channel 4, BBC whatever call me up and ask me to go on some show and talk about Engels or the Ritz or the Hacienda or the Smiths, what do I say? Do I say “I have only lived here for 30 years and although I wrote a book which many but not all people enjoyed, I feel I should decline your kind invitation and suggest you maybe call someone else?”. Why? It’s nice to be asked and I’m not afraid of putting my head above the parapet (even tho, as your words reveal, this sometimes leads to people being rude and hurtful). Who would you suggest they call? John Robb (grew up in Blackpool), Stuart Maconie (grew up in Wigan, moved to Birmingham from the North West in 1992), Paul Morley (from Stockport, has lived in London since 1980 something). I don’t know. Probably Terry Christian. I think probably Terry every time, is that what you suggest? I don’t know, but who cares? They probably wouldn’t want you tho, as you seem a bit bitter and childish I think you’d come across even worse than me on TV…

    Oh, sorry for being “vulgar”. We were talking about the future of writing and it’s a provable fact that advances have shrunk as the book trade have got fearful of the future. I knew from the man from MMU that set up the event that there were people in the audience who were interested in becoming writers so I just thought I would talk using specific figures, so I mentioned the advance. I don’t know whether you consider it a lot or a little, but I’m sorry I offended you by mentioning it, you are such a sensitive soul indeed. My point was that £15k isn’t much for what will be at least 2 years work.

    Frank was lovely throughout, you are right. It would have been nice to have heard more from him.

    • house78 says:

      First of all I’d like to say thanks for the comments Dave. All feedback is appreciated. I’ll try not to go on too much in reply as I can sense we’re not going to agree on some things, and I am fine with that.

      – Don’t apologise for having a slow and annoying voice. I pays my money, I takes my chances.
      – I don’t think you should worry what I think about the way you look. I am sure it is not just Frank C-B who thinks you look great. Perhaps my description was a cheap shot, but I try to make people laugh. Experience tells me cruelty is a good path for extracting laughter.
      – I just want someone that I feel represents me and my city. I don’t imagine you want to represent me and I am certain there are bags of people happy to hear you wax lyrical about the Hacienda et al. Did you specifically chose people not from Manchester to assist your point? I wouldn’t chose any of those 3 as an ambassador for Manchester though all three are established journalists are they not? I have always found Morley and Maconie quite interesting chaps. I like John Robb’s hair. For the record, yes Terry C will do for me: Mani, Peter Hook, Noel Gallagher spring to mind as people I like being representative of my city (I particularly like that each can be a bit of a twat from time to time).
      – I am childish, but I don’t think I am bitter. I think even you would have to perceive that I wrote about two men on the stage, why was I not so bitter about the other one?
      – I basically think we have different ideals and opinions when it comes to writing. A long and protracted rebuttal from me will not change your mind and you are seemingly happy and successful with this mindset – so why change? My point, though, was more about that 15 grand is a lot of money as some people would write for free if it meant sharing what they have inside with the world. You did not offend me in the slightest, I just didn’t think it was that classy to complain about it. I am sure all the people at publishing companies losing their jobs wish they had lucrative DJ-ing to help subsidise their work. Apologies for the high standards.
      – All facts are provable.
      – I am sure your insights on writing were very interesting for those present. Myself included. I just disagreed with some things you said and the way they were said.

      I do hope you weren’t bothered in any real way by my opinions, I also hope you would have written such extensive notes if I had been unrealistically over the top in a positive sense. There seem to be plenty of people in the world who like your DJing and writing so I wouldn’t worry about one childish, bitter blogger telling his seven or eight readers my opinions on something I paid to watch (ps – as well as my entrance money I also paid the RRP for Manchester, England so who has the last laugh?)

      Thanks again,

      Philip

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