Category Archives: Screenplays

Time to Wise Up

I first became aware of Aimee Mann via her soundtrack for P.T. Anderson’s sensational ensemble movie “Magnolia”.

In fact, Anderson said it was Mann’s lyrics that inspired the screenplay. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so. It features an array of fabulous actors, including the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, John C. Riley, Julianne Moore, Melora Walters and a sublime acting masterclass from Tom Cruise. Here’s the trailer:

But it’s Aimee Mann’s classic, ‘literate lyricism’ that I want to revisit. Anderson actually used her lyrics as a dialogue in the movie for Claudia’s character played by Melora Walters:

“Now that I’ve met you,

would you object to,

never seeing each other again?”

Here are three of my favourite songs from the soundtrack, but this time from Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse, which I hadn’t seen before, so I wanted to share them with the class.


And now, from the movie…

with the entire ensemble.

And here she is doing a cover of The Cars’ classic, ‘Drive’ about self-denial and facing up to alcoholism.

(You can still watch it, just click on the link to YouTube.)


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I [heart] America

There’s been a lot of hullabaloo this past couple of years because of the Cheeto-in-Chief of the good ol’ U S of A.

What with cosying up to dictators and alienating allies he certainly cuts a divisive figure. Unfortunately, this has had a backlash against America in general and its people.

So, to redress the balance, I wanted to write a positive post about some of the things I love about America. After all, one Mango-Mussolini shouldn’t taint the whole country.

In no particular order…


From Elvis Presley to Tom Waits to the Talking Heads. Who could argue that America has produced some of the greatest artists and genres the world has ever seen. Who are your favourites?




Next up, MOVIES.

When we think of American movies we tend to think of Hollywood blockbusters. But there are so many unbelievable directors and actors. Here are some of my favourites, who are yours?





As I have a penchant for the Arts, I’m going to pick out a few photographers who have inspired me over the years.



Marilyn Monroe by Eve Arnold


Gloria Swanson by Edward Steichen


Vivian Maier


Ansel Adams


Cindy Sherman


Saul Leiter

Understandably, most people couldn’t give a rat’s ass about advertising. But I do, because I worked in it for 30 years. When Doyle, Dane, Bernbach set up shop in the 1960s they revolutionised advertising. They focussed on simple product truths. Their ethos/philosophy permeated continents and generations. Still does. I had the privilege of working for DDB Dublin.



Leading on from advertising we have GRAPHIC DESIGN, and this iconic classic by Milton Glaser for the New York tourist board. which has been ‘parodied’ a trillion times. (Yes, including me.)


Milton Glaser

Next up, ARTISTS. Again, a multitude to pick from. Here are a couple of my faves.


Jean Michel Basquiat


Edward Hopper


Mary Cassatt

Moving on to something non art related – LANDSCAPE. America has such a diverse landscape, from snow-capped mountains to sun-scorched deserts.




I’ve always loved CLASSIC CARS, Mercedes, Jaguar, Citroen, Volvo. But I also love American cars for their sheer ostentatiousness.





I couldn’t write a post about America without including a few WRITERS. Too many to choose from. Here are a few of my heroes who have inspired me over the years. Recommendations anyone?






What else do I love about America? I really like their ARCHITECTURE. Whether it be a monumental skyscaper or the traditional colonial white-picket-fence style complete with veranda.




You won’t get very far in the States without some top-notch tucker. What is more quintessentially American than the humble DINER?


Who says Americans don’t get irony? They make some fantastic COMEDY and have some wonderful comedians. Obviously, you’re not as funny as us Brits. But you’re getting the hang of it. (Benny Hill.)





There you have it. Have I forgotten anything, anyone? What would you have included?

Obviously, there is one other thing I would like to give credit to. And that is the American people. (Well, only those that didn’t vote Trump.) You’re an innovative and inspiring bunch. Not only that, you saved our asses in two world wars! So, cheers for that.

My, (our), world would be a lot poorer without you.



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Things for which I am grateful #365/365.

Some folks might think this is a bit of a cheat. I started with my kids and I’m going to finish with them. In my defence, I have two of the little rascals so I’m counting it as one post apiece.

There is nothing more precious to me on this Earth than my two daughters. Anyone who has children will know that something changes inside of you – chemically, biologically – and nothing else seems to matter.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every parent, and true, the pesky varmints do get on your nerves a lot of the time. And yes, they bicker constantly. And they manage to talk in a stream of consciousness James Joyce would be proud of. But, when all’s said and done, they don’t outweigh all the adorable moments. I simply couldn’t live without them.

It’s been an epic year of blogging. Thank you for sticking by me and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Right, I’m going for a lie down.

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 16.32.04

Here are my 365 things that I am grateful for:

1 My daughters

2 Water

3 Poetry

4 Baths

5-7 Notebooks, pens, pencils

8,9 Butterflies and moths

10, 11 Softball and baseball

12 Fresh coffee

13 Sound / masts

14 Indoor toilets

15 Stepping Hill Hospital

16 Birds of Paradise

17 Roget’s thesaurus

18 Mother Earth

19 Clingfilm dispenser

20, 21 Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy

22 Jorge Luis Borges

23 Classic cars

24 Curry

25 Tim Berners Lee

26 Charles Bukowski

27 Yorkshire

28 Shiraz

29 Food

30 Katell Keineg

31 Tao Te Ching

32 A roof over my head

33 Peat fires

34 Street art

35 Friends (as in – mates, not the T.V. show)

36 Wilfred Owen

37 The Penguin Café Orchestra

38 The fry-up

39 Wolves

40 W.B. Yeats

41, 42 Cherry blossom trees and haiku poetry

43 Bread

44 Boules

45 Maps

46 Refuse collectors

47 Candy Chang

48 Sparrows

49 The tomato

50 Studio Ghibli

51 Oliver Jeffers

52 Johannes Gutenberg

53 Tom Waites

54 The cello

55 Mothers’ day

56 The Phoenicians

57, 58 Bacon and brown sauce

59 Tulips

60 Fish and chips

61 Giselle

62 Airfix

63 Firefighters

64 Rain

65 Libraries

66 Raymond Carver

67 Toulouse-Lautrec

68 The Goldfinch

69 Wings of Desire

70 Silence

71 Elizabeth Barrett Browning

72-99 Ireland

100 Talking Heads

101 Sylvia Plath

102 Yorkshire Sculpture Park

103 My mum

104 Modigliani

105 Kurt Vonnegut

106-128 Electricity

129 The pop man

130-147 Comedians/comedy

148 Commando magazine

149 Pastry

150-156 Social media

157 David Bowie

158 Football

159 D-Day

160-194 France

195-230 Novels

231 Graphic Design

232 Viva! Roxy Music

233 – 274 Art

275 Betty Blue

276 Writing

277 Joy Division

278 – 287 Scotland

288 – 324 Italy

325 – 352 Photography

353 Leeds Utd

354 Love

355 Universe

356 Advertising

357 Pan’s Labyrinth

358 – 363 Democracy

364 Miscellaneous

365 My daughters II

If anyone wants to read any of the previous posts simply type the title into the search box on the right. (It’s underneath the ‘topic’ cloud.)


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Pan’s Labyrinth – #357/365

Not long to go now before I complete my 365 things for which I am grateful.

If you’re a newcomer to this blog, at the beginning of 2014 I decided to embark on a project that highlighted just how lucky we, in the ‘West’, are in comparison to many other people around the world. And how much we take for granted – such as running water, a roof over our heads or food in our bellies.

Today’s offering is a magical movie directed by Guillermo del Toro, called Pan’s Labyrinth.


It’s the story of Ofelia who travels with her pregnant mother to meet her sadistic step-father, the brutal Captain Vidal, at his base in the north of Spain where he is fighting the post-civil war rebels.

Once there, she is befriended by a maid by the name of Mercedes who is helping the rebels with medical supplies, information and such.


One night, a fairy comes to Ofelia and takes her to meet a faun in a secret labyrinth. Now, when I say, ‘fairy’, don’t be thinking of Tinkerbell or some pretty, pink fluffy thing with wings. This fairy bears more of a resemblance to a flying stick insect than a Winx Club. (Which prods us to wonder if this is all just in Ofelia’s imagination to help her through the violence and misery of her surroundings.)

Once in the bowels of the Earth, the faun tells her that she is the princess of a long-forgotten kingdom and, if she is to meet her real father – the king – ever again, she must complete three grizzly tasks to prove her loyalty.


Of course, Ofelia is well up for it and goes about her task with such vim that an I’m a Celebrity contestant would only balk in horror at.

Meanwhile, her mother is a sickly lass and has taken to her bed. The vile Captain Vidal has his hands full torturing and butchering rebels and has no time for Ofelia.


It all comes to a head when Ofelia kidnaps her newborn baby brother to protect him from his evil father. Unfortunately, Captain Vidal, who only has eyes for his son and heir, has other plans for Ofelia…

And, you know what the spooky thing is? It’s all true.

"A little off the top?"

“A little off the top?”

Pan’s Labyrinth is spine-tingling  fairytale for adults.

Exquisitely filmed and beautifully acted, the film is both horrific and enchanting. And, I for one, am grateful that I got the opportunity to see it. Several times.

Here’s the trailer, but you can actually watch the entire film on YouTube if you like. Don’t know what the quality’s like, mind.


Filed under Art, Children, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Cross of Iron, Film, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Screenplays, Writing

Cantankerous Yorkshireman wants to be ‘liked’.

Dear Fellow Bloggers and Followers,

I wanted to ask a favour…


Where did everyone go?

I’ve finally gotten round to setting up an author page on Facebook and I’d be very grateful if you could pop along and ‘like’ it for me. Here’s the link:

What’s in it for you?

Well, you’ll get to hear the latest about what I’m working on. (Big deal.)

A sci-fi short story called 'Little Snow'.

A sci-fi short story called ‘Little Snow’.

I’ll post some funny stuff about writing. (Meh.)

Tell it like it is.

Tell it like it is.

There’ll be some words of wisdom and encouragement from famous writers. (I have a Pinterest account too, you know.)



Let’s be honest, it’s really just a vehicle to promote my books. So, if you’re not that interested in novels, short stories, poetry or screenplays written by a cantankerous old Yorkshireman, then it’s probably not for you.

Buy my book!

Buy my books!




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Things for which I am grateful #275 – Betty Blue

Or, to give it its French title, 37˚2 le matin. (Which, presumably, should be 37.2˚ le matin. Sorry for being an English pedant.)

Which, apparently, is the normal body temperature for a pregnant woman in the morning.



So what’s it all about? Well, Betty, played by the enigmatic Béatrice Dalle, is as mad as a box of frogs. Why a box of frogs are mad, I have no idea. Perhaps it is because (understandably) they are cooped up in a box. Or maybe it is because the actual concept of frogs in a box is absurd. Why not kittens or dogs? Well, I imagine the former would be quite cute, rather than mad. In fact, I’ve probably seen a video of a box of kittens on YouTube. And a box of dogs would be impractical, as one would need a very large box. Perhaps a ginormous box of elephants would be a better simile? Except, somehow, it’s just not quite as funny as a box of frogs. Monkeys could work.

Whatever the origins of the simile, it does little to rid mental illness of its stigma. So, for that, I apologise. (But, she is.)

Betty and Zorg are young lovers. Laid-back Zorg is perfectly played by Jean-Hughes Anglade. He works as a handyman for a beach shack owner and all is well when Betty first moves in with him. Until she finds his hidden manuscript and can’t understand why he doesn’t want more from life.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 12.30.40

She takes matters into her own hands, (after being sexually assaulted by the shack owner), and promptly burns down their house. The pair head off to Paris to stay with a friend where Betty types up Zorg’s ‘masterpiece’ and sends it to publishers. Zorg takes it on himself to hide his rejection letters so’s not to upset Betty. She eventually finds one and takes her revenge on the man who sent it.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 12.30.54

They move to an idyllic rural town to run their friend’s piano shop. It’s here that Betty finds out she’s pregnant – much to the delight of them both. It’s not long after that she finds out she has lost the baby, (or isn’t pregnant – I can’t quite recall). But the news breaks her heart and she self-harms in a most horrific way.

As a result of her extreme actions she is catatonic and hospitalised. And that’s about as far as I can take it without spoiling the ending.

It’s a heartbreaking masterpiece of love, mental illness, unfulfilled dreams and what a partner of a person suffering from such an illness will go through to empathise and help care for her.


If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so. And if you have, watch it again. (I watched it again this week after almost 30 years and, what it reinforced to me, was the power of loving commitment – no matter what.)

It’s written and directed by Jean-Jaques Beineix and has an inspirational and mesmerising soundtrack by Gabriel Yared. (See clip below.)




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Wings of Desire #69/365

Wings of desire, wim wenders

Wings of Desire, By Wim Wenders, my all-time favourite love story.

Starring Bruno Gantz (Damiel) and Solveig Dommartin (Marion) and a brilliant cameo by Peter Falk.

It is about an Angel who falls in love with a trapeze artist from a traveling circus. The slight problem is, she can’t see him.

Angels are all about us. We see them, not in white flowing gowns and wings, but with heavy dark grey overcoats. They walk among us unseen, except perhaps for the odd child, trying to comfort us in our hours and seconds of need.

Damiel’s dilemma is whether to relinquish his status as an immortal angel, who’s been around since the dawn of time, and become a mere mortal human so he can try to woo the girl of his dreams – Marion, the trapeze artist.

Set in Berlin, the film is shot in black and white and colour and is in English, German and French. Everything we see from the Angels’ point of view is shot in black and white, whilst everything we see from human beings’ point of view is in glorious technicolour. Poignant.







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Studio Ghibli – things for which I am grateful #50/365

Well, for my 50th post, it has to be something special. And, what better than the inimitable, Studio Ghibli.

If you’re unfamiliar with them, they are a Japanese animation house who produce some of the most original and sumptuously animated movies you will ever see.

Of course, I only really got into them because I have children, (both of whom love their films). But I would argue that any adult could watch their movies and enjoy them – they are that unique.

What I don’t want to do is get into a critique of all their films that I like. So, suffice it to say, just trust me, and try and watch as many of their films as possible – even if you don’t have kids.

How I think they differ from western animation houses is that they draw upon Japanese folklore, which is new to us and makes for very unusual storylines. Not only that, but the colours seem so much richer and vivid than what we are used to.

Another thing I love about them is that their leading protagonists tend to be girls. Which is good for my children.

Spirited Away

Spirited Away

A young girl has to enter a spirit world in order to save her parents from being permanently turned into pigs.

Spirited Away.

Spirited Away.

My neighbour, Totoro.

My neighbour, Totoro.

Totoro is a giant forest spirit who comes to the aid of two young girls who have moved to the countryside with their father while their sick mother recuperates in hospital.

My neighbour, Totoro.

My neighbour, Totoro.

Howl's Moving Castle.

Howl’s Moving Castle.

Sophie starts out as an 18-year-old hat maker, but then a witch’s curse transforms her into a 90-year-old grey-haired woman. Sophie is horrified by the change at first. Nevertheless, she learns to embrace it as a liberation from anxiety, fear and self-consciousness. She begins cleaning for the powerful wizard, Howl. And soon finds she is more and more attracted to him. But can she break the curse, not just on her, but Howl too?

Howl's Moving Castle.

Howl’s Moving Castle.



Ponyo is a fish who befriends a boy and desperately wants to become human.

Laputa - Castle in the Sky.

Laputa – Castle in the Sky.

Sheeta is wanted by a ruthless government agent who wants her magic amulet which will help him control the once mighty kingdom of Laputa. Aided by her faithful friend, Pazu and a gang of flying pirates, they have to thwart the dastardly, Muska.

Laputa - Castle in the Sky.

Laputa – Castle in the Sky.

Kiki's Delivery Service.

Kiki’s Delivery Service.

A young witch goes out into the world to make it for herself and sets up a delivery service.

Grave of the Fireflies.

Grave of the Fireflies.

Absolutely heartbreaking story of two brothers trying to survive the aftermath of the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan.

Grave of the Fireflies.

Grave of the Fireflies.

Some other titles that are worth mentioning: The Cat Returns, Whisper of the Heart, Princess Mononoke, Arrietty and Tales from Earth Sea.


Filed under Animation, Art, Children, Children's stories, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Film, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Screenplays

The Book of Judas – out now on Amazon.

Did Christ really die on the cross? Or was he rescued by the man charged with his betrayal? And could it be that Christ was an ancestor of Mohammed? The Book of Judas is a historical epic screenplay set at the turn of the 12th century after the First Crusade, about a French crusading knight who discovers The Book of Judas in Jerusalem.


The Book is Judas’ version of events surrounding the crucifixion, and his alleged betrayal of Christ and his subsequent exile in Medina. Xavier de Crecie’s dilemma is whether The Book should be seen by the world’s nobility, thus throwing Christianity and Islam into question, or whether it should be suppressed for the good of both religions.

Few people know of The Book’s existence. The Catholic Church want to get their hands on The Book to suppress its contents. The Baron of Kent would also like to acquire it so he can use it as collateral against funding an army to depose the King of England. Whilst the Moorish Amir wants it back to protect Islam.

The antagonists will stop at nothing to wrestle The Book from Xavier’s grasp – including kidnapping his wife, the sublime and beautiful Duchess of Brittany – who is as much of an adversary as any knight, as the Duke of Kent and the King of England are about to find out.

Buy it here on Amazon.


Filed under Books, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Film, Ideas, Inspiration, Screenplays, Writing

Waltz with Bashir.

I watched this rather haunting movie today, called Waltz with Bashir. It was written and directed by Ari Folman about his own experiences as an Israeli soldier in the 1982 war with Lebanon.

The basic premise is that Folman has no memory of the events surrounding the massacre of Palestinians at the hands of the Christian Phalange in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

Years later, Folman is plagued by hallucinations and nightmares, but can’t decipher what these might mean. So he embarks on a journey of self-discovery by contacting members of his old army unit to try and piece back his memory of the horrific event, and the role he, and his unit, played in it.

It’s spine tingling stuff. Exquisite animation makes it all the more surreal and poignant.




Waltz With Bashir rabid dogs

Waltz with Bashir




And while we’re on the subject, head over to Amazon and buy my book please. It’s called Love is Blood. Thank you.

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