Matt Tuckey is a writer from Oldham, England. He covers celebrities, night life, Manchester, fitness, creative writing, social media, confidence and events. Some of this may, in some way, help others. Or maybe it'll just entertain you for a while.
a script I wrote for a TV advert, when I was 18 at college. The
campaign was for Kellog's Crunchy Nut breakfast cereal. The project
was for my course, and it didn't go past the storyboard stage. I bit
off more than I could chew in terms of production, but someone out
there might like the screenplay. The advert's closing strapline was
being used as an actual campaign by Kellogg's at the time- around
PRISON GROUNDS- NIGHT
Guard #1 walks the perimeter of the building, with his dog on a
leash. A scratching noise comes from behind the wall. The dog turns
to the brickwork and begins to GROWL. The guard becomes panicked,
expecting a breakout.
convict in stripy attire leans forward towards the camera with a
spoon in his hand and a determined look on his face.
Guards #1 and #2 run down the corridor towards the suspect's cell.
Guard #1 reaches the door and swings his baton around. He opens the
cell door and shines the torch in...
convict, lit by the torch, sits with a bowl and spoon at a small
table. At his side is a box of Kellogg's Crunchy Nut.
Writers Connect this week organizer Oz brought in a selection of small intriguing ornaments as
prompts for a ten minute exercise. This session was- as usual- the
morning after the night before, being on a Sunday, and I'd had kind
of a weird night out in Manchester involving a group of very drunk
Welsh girls. Not as good as it sounds. But anyway, I was feeling kind
of melancholy. There was something about this sculpture
struck a chord with me. I felt like being a poetic bastard.
Welsh's new novel Skagboys is on sale now. The prequel to
Trainspotting has just been released by publishers Jonathan Cape.
Welsh did a signing in Waterstones Manchester on Friday 20th.
I booked it off and got down there. A good day was had by all I
think! And if Trainspotting and its sequel Porno are anything to go
by, Skagboys should be a winner of a book.
this recipe book is getting weird. The first few meals were really
tasty and proved to me that there were more types of food that I like
than I thought there were. It also proved to me that I can cook for
myself- something I was convinced I couldn't from about age 11
didn't see the point of recipe 25: “Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce”.
It's basically boiling spaghetti and adding the sauce, which I
already made for the pizza.
had no enthusiasm for Spinach and Squash Lasagne. I'm not a big veg
eater, although I know how important greens are. But there's actually
nothing but veg in the recipe. I can make a salad if it comes to
turned the page straight over for “Pasta with Lemon and Cream”.
Tesco's Carbonara sauce would do fine for that kind of dish. I'm not
a cream fan, and seeing as cream is fat, why should skipping this one
be a problem?
that led me to the noodle dish. This was a semi-successful venture.
The cooking of it was fine, but finding the Goddamn ingredients, not
so. The shelf stackers in Tesco were convinced they stocked tofu,
although not one of them could fucking find it on the shelves.
Neither could I. I also came up short when looking for spring onions,
which according to the book look a bit like carrots, although I'd
never seen or heard of these things before in my life. I stuck with
used chicken as a substitute for tofu, seeing as chicken goes in stir
fry. Here's Tesco's mint sprigs supply:
I substituted this
with a sprinkle of “Chinese Five Spice”. Due to an apparent case
of mental retardation, I also bought a bag of monkey nuts instead of
standard peanuts and egg noodles instead of rice noodles. I don't
have a nut crusher, so I substituted the monkey nuts with some pine
nuts that I had left over from the pesto recipe. Check the
was supposed to use a rolling pin to crush the peanuts (now pine
nuts). I do have a rolling pin somewhere inside this one-bedroom
flat, but I STILL cannot find it. So I used a pestle and mortar
instead. Hard work!
continued through the instructions. There's no further mention of
spring onions in the recipe, after all that searching for them, so I
ended up with a chopped onion that I didn't throw in.
seems to think you can eat bean sprouts raw. The Tesco packaging
suggested otherwise, so this added three minutes to the cooking time.
tasted good, and not like anything I'd eaten before. It took so long
to get all the ingredients together- a number of shopping trips- that
I'm not sure all of the elements were particularly fresh. I've been
few days later I had another bash. I used roasted peanuts from a
packet, chicken again, and some white wine vinegar that I manage to
find. It was a lot more flavoursome even though I forgot
to put the mint on the plate at the end.
week I got a shout out on Ideal Club World Radio, an online station that claims that
“the world has been missing a radio station with a strong identity
that universally covers all non commercial /manufactured music and
reports on news and gossip in the global underground music world.”
My friends DJ Bini and co-host Hema
present the Asian Invasion,
“Taking you through a journey of classics, funky & upfront
house. Reflecting on the previous months hot tracks being played in
and around Manchester and very special guest DJ mixes.”
girls were asking us to tweet the show April Fools pranks that we
pulled on the 1st of the month. I told them how I'd put
this as my profile pic
that loads of people who I'd known for years fell for it. Hema read out my tweet! Superbo!
I put it up I had an hour-long conversation with one young mother in
my friends, who advised me on a range of sensory mattresses and
radios that I'd need to buy. Tee hee.
Invasion is a great show, so be sure to tune in on Wednesday nights
at 9pm to get some good house into your system.
the subject of good music, Rififi Stalybridge had a local Manchester
legend gracing their decks on Good Friday. Capital Radio's David Dunne span a few classic house tracks while a stunning podium dancer
showered us with metallic sparks from her angle grinder. Great music
and a great night. I tweeted to Mr Dunneto tell him this. He retweeted back. This made me happy.
round-up: The lovely Cathy Heaven (6K followers)
wished me a Happy Easter. I got blog retweets from the superb ladies
Charlee Chase (59K) and Tina Lee (4K). Respect, girls.
also had the banter with Jodie Connor (35k), the astoundingly beautiful singer from Roll Deep's No1 hit
A native of my own town, Oldham, Jodie tweeted that she had “fallen
back in love...” I replied that she had, hence, broken my heart.
Turns out she was on about Jack Bauer. “Oh don't you love 24 too!
Lool” she said.
got me there, Jodie.
news: I've had to put Mixed Martial Arts on the back burner again as
I cannot justify the price of membership. Good news: I've now taken
up Street Dance at the Dancehouse Theatre in Manchester. I've been meaning to give this a shot for a long time. I'm a pretty
good dancer as it stands, but I thought, I might as well go and learn
to do it properly. Not only that, but I came to a revelation
recently- people are happiest when they spend their time doing the
things they enjoy and the things they're good at.
got pretty good at MMA after a few years, but had to quit in 2010
when I got my own gaff. It was always a struggle learning the
techniques in the class, even though I enjoyed it and felt like it
helped me develop in so many ways: I was more confident, less afraid
and stood my ground more in minor disagreements. Dancing, on the
other hand, is something I just know how to do somehow. So why
shouldn't I go to a class and sharpen up more? Not only that, but the
people I meet there, I thought, will probably be on my wavelength. It
seems they are. Oh, and who'd have thought? There happens to be loads
of fine young women there as well!
lot of my friends are staying in and saving up for things, so this
class could just be a major lifeline for me. It's going well so far.
You know what? A lot of things are. Here's a quote by someone who was
ALSO a total failure in school. It displays the importance of
sticking to your strengths.
is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree,
it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
work. Fat burning. It is a slow, tedious task- one that I could
certifably not be arsed with until recently, when I decided it might
be good to bring a book to the gym to get through the monotony of it.
After the questionable success of my reading-while-cycling thing I
tried a month back (various posts on the right, see “Reading and
Working Out”) I decide to give reading and walking a shot.
November I've been dipping in and out of Monty Python's Flying
Circus: Just the Words, a back-to-back compilation of the screenplays
of the zany 70s TV show. What better book is there for a zany task of
reading on a treadmill?
used a treadmill at the back of the gym for this task- away from the
speakers and right in front of the floor-to-ceiling window where I
could get plenty of daylight. If you're going to be indoors for a
substantial part of the day, you might as well get what seratonin you
can while you're there. It will aid concentration, and I found that pages lit by sunlight
were easier to read than pages lit by the gym's ceiling lights after
movement of walking is a very up-down motion- your body level raises
when your legs are together and dips when your legs are apart. This
movement causes the text to go squiggly before your eyes, meaning it
takes a few minutes for your vision to adapt to the rhythm of
walking. Concentrating can be difficult- especially when the content
features 18th-century kings headbutting each other.
because your eyes are fixed to the page, you aren't looking at the
horizon or the features of the room. This causes you to lose your
balance slightly, so you start to walk with your feet slightly wider
apart, almost in a shat-yourself waddle.
for the pace, I found 6kph practical and 5kph more so (predictably).
I couldn't concentrate at 7kph. If you're taller than 173 cm (5'8 for
those still catching up), you might manage at a slightly higher speed
being able to walk with a wider stride.
walked for 1 hour 50 mins (until the gym closed) on day 1- and
started this straight after 45 mins of short cardio and weights. On
day 2 I did the same, reading for 1 hour 15 mins. In order to burn
fat, in theory, you need to work out for 90 minutes first. So, I
fat-burned for 65 minutes on day 1 and 30 minutes on day 2. Yet I
STILL have no six pack. Bastard.
long cardio and you notice certain things that strength training
doesn't inflict on you- an intense tiredness, for one thing, along
with concentration difficulties, isolation and pain in the feet. This
will be more so if your laces aren't tied tight/slack enough.
interesting, if slightly odd, task. The task was made odder by the
Pythons' surrealist comedy sketches, of which I have now read the
scripts to EVERY ONE. I actually LOLd at quite a few of the
depictions. Some were classics (the “argument clinic” is
something we can all relate to), others forgettable. It's the kind of
thing that's easiest to read in small portions- the only people who
can read this kind of silliness for extended periods are probably
what struck me reading this was that they were using a fairly
traditional method to develop these comedy ideas.
suspect that John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman,
Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle were well-versed in surrealist “cut-up”
techniques. This old art is performed by writing down as many ideas
and scenarios as you can, cutting these sheets of paper into strips
and shuffling them together to make a mish-mash of characters, places
and happenings. You then look through these ideas and try to form
scenarios from images that wouldn't normally go together, like
vikings celebrating Spam in a village tea-room, or a WWII RAF pilot
called Pip, “the half-parrot, half man, half-woman, three-quarter
badger, ex-bigamist negro preacher, for whom banjo-playing was very
not an expert in these techniques, but I did go to two interesting
workshops on cut-up a few months ago. The writeups are here, coupled
with poems I wrote at each one:
Poetry is nearer to vital truth than
is National Poetry Writing Month, or NaPoWriMo,
an annual project organised by Maureen Thompson, a publisher in
Washington DC. Yes, I know. If I'm writing this in Oldham in
Northwest England, it should be International Poetry Writing Month,
or InPoWriMo, which I think has a better bouncy sort of rhythm to it.
Well. I'll suggest it next year, then.
idea: write a poem on every day of the month. I'm writing this on the
6th and, so far, I've written 0 poems out of 6 days. Oh
something about this project that could really help to raise the
profile of poetry, and the task could involve and enthuse people who
otherwise would never have taken to it. The site has a collection of links to good poetry blogs, although there are probably thousands of sites
you could read to get a grasp of what poetry is all about. The first
site I’d recommend is Duotrope, a searchable list of fiction and
noble as the cause is, I'm not sure that the principle of writing a
poem a day is particularly going to work for many people. Here's why:
come and go. Sometimes they come five at once, sometimes none for
ages. If you don't have a strong idea, you won't have a strong poem.
Forcing ideas out, to fill the days, makes for lame poems.
scheme should be more than just a bunch of newbie writers trying to
write some poems sat at their computers in solitude. Poetry is
something that can be learned in a class. Where are the free
classes? Where are the lists of writers groups operating
throughout the country? Wouldn't they be places to hone poetry
skills? They exist, but they're not advertised on the NaPoWriMo
not advertised are the poetry reading events that anyone can get
involved in. Writeoutloud, a national hub for participation in poetry, would be a good place to
link to. Search this site for your town to see what poetry-related
happenings are near you.
importantly, poetry has a really bad image. Most people are
reluctant to read anything at all, beyond their own Facebook news
feed. I'd say poetry, being one of the hardest writing forms to
decipher, is among the least popular. But I think there is a form of
poetry somewhere for everyone, even if it's rap lyrics or something
abstract that doesn't feel like a poem, but technically is.
even though I won't be doing a poem a day for NaPoWriMo, I'm keen to
have a bash at something poetry-related- maybe I'll find a poetry
slam somewhere in Manchester. Maybe I'll polish off some old drafts
or think of a few new ideas. I might also investigate a few more
feedback sites. If you're having a go at NaPoWriMo, I wish you all
the best. Let's see what we can come up with!
further info on what a poem is, as opposed to what it is not, and how
to write one, see this BBC 5-minute interview with former Poet
Laureate Sir Andrew Motion.
this week's writing exercise, the group was asked to write for ten
minutes using the above title as a prompt. There were a few minutes
at the start of the exercise when I hadn't a clue what to write
about, until my mind drifted
back to October 2000 when I was 18 and hammering through a GNVQ.
hadn't a clue what she was talking about. “Er... what?” I asked.
was really uncomfortable. For the record, I know nothing about
prostitution, on either side of the exchange. It's not a topic that's
particularly easy to talk about, particularly not when you're
eighteen and you're talking to your own mother.
'ookers form,” she reiterated. “Have you filled it in yet?”
need to fill a form in before you visit a hooker? I thought. Why does
my mum know this? And why is she asking me this?
looked down at my desk for a clue, the work surface plastered in A2
sheets and essays- an almost-complete college module. Hookers would
not be an option I'd go for, even if I did have time. I shifted a few
sheets around for a clue.
the edge of my desk, under a university prospectus for next year, was
my higher education application form.
there's the penny dropping.
"UCAS," she corrected herself. "Whatever."
"Not yet, let me tidy this up first."
breathed a sigh of relief and shook my head clear. I had eight months
to go. Eight more modules. Eight more deadlines before- in theory- I
was to go to uni and do it all again.
"You don't want to be late, or you'll have to defer for a year."
"I'm aware of that," I said, and started to collate the sheets in order. The cereal advert I'd come up with was brilliant. The rest of it, probably garbage.
a recent writers' group, I was handed this cheeky little leaflet for
another writing workshop based in north Manchester.
you want to see yourself in print,” the ad says, “or just write
way, join us, in Prestwich Library on Wednesday mornings
10:30am-12:30pm for a friendly, stimulating, refreshing discussion
will awaken your curiosity and help you to explore your writing
Jean Tarry 01204 884080 or just turn up one Wednesday morning in term
time. You'll be very welcome.
varies with numbers – the more the merrier (and cheaper)”
anyone goes to the meetings and sees this, get in touch and let us
know how you found it! If you have a review of the group or a writeup
of an exercise you took part in, I'd be happy to publish it here.
think the whole glory of writing lies in the fact that it forces us
out of ourselves and into the lives of others."
Anderson, US novelist
dear. I've been searching for a site that provides constructive
feedback on creative writing. My search took a nosedive this week
with the Literotica Forums.
As mentioned, I planned to spend a week dabbling around on the site to
see if I could use it to my advantage. But no. I could not. Here's why.
really a site for finished pieces of erotic stories and poems, not a
place for critiques of unfinished work. Or so it seems. The purpose
of the forums seems to be “getting attention”, rather than
“getting and giving advice”. People are asking for comments, but
not particularly for constructive criticism.
of the writing on this site fairly well-written, but not
particularly erotic. Some of the writing is really, really bad. I
know that a feedback site is a place for people to develop their
skills as a writer, but you'd expect a certain level of ability from
people if they are serious about writing- serious enough to use a
site like this, at least. Example: reviewers are having to point out
to writers that they have accidentaly changed from first to third
person. One writer describes her story as being set “in the 1800th
century”. Okay, so some people are beginners and are there to
learn, but what support is there for fairly competent people who
have already been published and who want to further hone their
skills? Not much.
brings me nicely onto my third point: not only are there a lot of
terrible writers, these contributors are also (predictably) awful at
reviewing. One story, written from the perspective of a milionare
rapist preying on lapdancers, did not get in my books. And I'm a BIG
American Psycho fan, so it wasn't the content that particularly put
me off. It was just badly written, more than anything, and the
wafer-thin depiction of the female characters proved how few women
the author actually knew in real life. Yet the majority of reviewers
loved it! They all congratulated the author for his “brilliant”
stories (he'd written a few) and gave nothing in the form of
constructive criticism. One fairly eloquent reviewer- older than
most, seemingly- put it to the author that rapists generally don't
make good protagonists. They aren't likeable individuals. This
particular main character was a brat with no redeeming features,
even when he wasn't sexually assaulting pole-dancing
nineteen-year-olds. I added that I agreed with this reviewer. I
didn't hear back from the site as to whether I'd received any
correspondence from that comment.
Some writers upload unfinished work in the hope of gaining feedback.
One story I critiqued contained no reviewer's notes indicating that
the piece wasn't actually finished, so of course when I reviewed it
to say that the ending didn't work I got an earful as they
“obviously” hadn't finished writing it yet. Generally speaking,
people on Literotica don't take criticism well at all.
On the flipside, some of the poetry is really good- well-thought out
pacing, thoughtful word choices, graphic without being vulgar,
sentimental without being gushy. Some of the poetry is not so, but
at least a handful of examples really stand out. It doesn't seem to
be a place for feedback, though, and when the site lets you
communicate, it isn't easy to use. After submitting a comment, the
text disappears and there's no notification of whether it has been
submitted or not.
The site itself isn't particularly easy to use- some pieces will
have an obvious text box for you to submit your comments in. Other
poems or stories won't. I couldn't tell why this was.
This left me wondering- is the site a place for working on your
stories or not? On Literotica it isn't clear. I tried to upload a
story of my own for the purpose of gaining feedback. When you find
the upload form, the instructions read like you're submitting a
finished piece for publication on the site- like the magazine. “You
are granting us non-exclusive rights to publish your submission”,
it says. I debated this, then sent the piece anyway. I wish I hadn't
in retrospect- If I could have made the story better, I would have
had a better chance of being noticed as a writer. But, if Literotica
decide to publish the piece, I can link it up regardless.
I'm also a little disappointed that the submission form knocked out
all of my italics. The story I uploaded was mostly internal
monologue, so it was particulalry important with that piece and I
spent some time checking that it was right.
A FAIL of a week on the writing front. Do you know a better feedback
site that I should be trying?
the Conservatives, who are supposedly running the country, have
reversed their stance on the supposed fuel shortages due to the
supposed strike by tanker drivers this week. Our thouroughly retarded
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has now been asked to resign
over comments he made advising storing petrol in jerrycans. This was
days after drivers in the Unite union voted in favour of strike
action. We've been told “no need to panic-buy”. Then we were
advised to fill up to 3/4s of a tank. The government seem not to be
able to make their minds up over what we should do. Well, let's
suppose I throw a bit of light on this ridiculous situation.
there WILL be a fuel shortage, regardless. Why? Because people have
already queued, all over the country, for their petrol. The moment
drivers hear the phrase “fuel shortage”, what do we do? We top up
our cars, no matter how full they already are. Why? Because we want
what we can get our hands on.
I blog about greed, a trait we all have within us. This, I usually
explain, is a part of human nature. When we are posed with a threat
of any kind, we prepare to handle that threat. We prepare to see
ourselves through that ordeal with as much resources and as few
potential problems as possible. Hence, the moment drivers hear “fuel
shortage”, they drive straight to the nearest forecourt. Some say
this is a knee-jerk reaction. I say, preparedness makes you powerful.
We're all paying for the fuel. Once it's in the tank, it's ours 'til
we use it.
to mention, if the media gets wind of this potential fuel shortage-
which, this week it did- and it promotes the situation as just that,
the concept becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Tanker drivers
strike. So there'll be no fuel. So people buy what's left. So
there'll be no fuel. Those who have the time and the money, and want
the upper hand, will dive into the forecourt and fill up. People will
call them stupid, until the tanker drivers DO strike. Which they may.
In the meantime, the knee-jerked won't have to get fuel for a while,
so that's one thing off their minds.
seriously, until we're living in a Mad-Max style apocalyptic vision
of hell, don't be a 'tard like some people and start filling up
jerrycans. We'd all prefer that the Watford Gap didn't look like this
any time soon: