Saturday, 31 May 2014

The First Screenplay I Ever Wrote...

I polished off when I should have been studying for my GCSEs. I had an idea for a story about a dreadful incident in a local cafe, a scenario made worse by the terrible, insular attitudes of its patrons. At fifteen I originally titled it “Diner”, but a feedback group I visited a few years later suggested that was too American. So I buried it for a further decade or so, until a few months ago when I dug it out, wrote another draft titling it “Restaurant”, got further feedback from my writer's group and- this week- gave it one further polish. It might need another before it ever makes it onto the screen, but it's far enough along to present here.

Blogger's formatting doesn't let me lay it out like a proper screenplay, so you'll have to excuse the alignment, but hopefully the story is straightforward enough to follow and ideally enjoy.

If you or anyone you know are into film-making, please take a look, pass the link around, and let me know what you think.

Restaurant can be read here.

Friday, 30 May 2014


Luke’s mum
Luke’s dad
Policeman / PC Garnett


Black. Credits roll. Sound of traffic.


A shabby roadside restaurant, tidy but dull.

UNSPECIFIED TICKING SOUND plays over everything.

Customers walk in and out. Many are seated, chowing down. It’s summer, and the dust and smog from outside wafts over every meal with every opening of the door. The overhead fans do nothing but shift the heat about.

A family sit at a table- a mother, father and eight-year old son LUKE. Luke has a Polaroid camera around his neck. LUKE'S DAD glances to the other side of the room and recognises a woman, BECKY. They spot each other uncomfortably but both look away.

Nearby, 2 men are sat on stools on opposite sides of the serving counter- JERRY, the tubby manager, and regular customer CARL.

Carl is staring at his stopwatch, the source of the ticking. JERRY is staring at a book. We can’t see what’s on the page.

The second hand reaches the top of the hour. The stopwatch is stopped.

Now look at the circle.

I can see the dot. Just.

We call it “persistence of vision”. Basically your eye retains that image of the dot for a fraction of a second before shooting it off to your brain. It's like animation. You don't see each individual frame- just the moving image. And that's because every fraction of a second, that image is going in through your eye, through your, er, your optical nerve and into your brain, faster than your brain can work out what it's seeing. Hence, you see a moving image, not a series of frames. With this trick, your brain expects to still be receiving the signal of the dot when you've moved your eyes onto the circle, so it thinks it is.

I was in the opticians waiting room the other day, ironically, reading National Geographic I think. Out in the freshwaters of South America there's this four-eyed fish. Weird-looking thing.

Has four eyes?

You'd think so, right? It has two stupidly large ones. Looks like a cartoon frog. Each eye is separated by a septum, like a layer, that helps it to see above and below the water. Half for food, half for predators, I suppose.

I could do with a couple of septums of my own in this place. Keep an eye on these-


A woman, BECKY, picks up her fork and stabs her boyfriend, GARETH, in the eye. He grips his face firmly, fork jutting out between his fingers. His screams are deafening. Patrons back away. A waitress drops and smashes a plate.

Jerry freezes in shock. Nearby, a customer called JENNY turns around.

What the hell?

BECKY (to Gareth)
Fuck you, you piece of shit!

Luke's parents are horrified, more so when Luke slips out of his seat and takes a SNAP of the doomed pair. LUKE’S DAD snatches him back and the Polaroid picture flutters to the floor. Luke’s Dad vomits over his meal. Luke’s Mum is still gawking in shock.

LUKE’S DAD (to Luke’s Mum)
Don’t look.

LUKE’S MUM faints.

What was that for?!

This has nothing to do with you. Stay out of it.

Jerry is still frozen in shock.

JENNY (to Becky)
Don’t you move.
(to Jerry)
Phone an ambulance! What’s the matter with you?

An ambulance? He’s not dying!

Look how much blood he’s losing you shallow bitch!

GARETH begins to sob.


She puts a hand on Gareth’s shoulder.

In fact, get the police as well.

Oh, what, who's this? Detective Supergrass in the corner here? Nobody's calling the pigs.

Try Trading Standards instead.

JOYCE, a middle-aged woman, holds her plate by the edge in one hand.

I can’t eat this.

Look, we can sort this out at another time when-

JENNY (to Joyce)
Are you kidding? We've got a man in serious pain here and you're p*ssing and moaning about lunch? Get a grip for Christ's sake and show some respect!

(to Jerry)

Get. On the phone.

Jerry goes into the back, picks up the phone and dials 999.

You have no idea what this is about. None of you do, except this f-cking loser!

Becky grabs a salt pot from a nearby table and launches it at Gareth. It lands near his feet. She storms off into the ladies room.

Jenny sits with Gareth, only his forehead not covered in blood.

Why are you with a woman like that? Someone who treats you that badly isn't worth a second of your time.

Maybe I deserved it. Oh, god...

No. No, you mustn't think like that.

Jenny walks to the window and looks out at the road. No sign of any emergency vehicles. After a moment, she returns to Gareth.

Let’s get out of here. I’m not waiting any longer.

Tentatively, she helps Gareth to his feet.

Don’t. Stay here.

We’re going to A and E. I'm driving. This ambulance is taking too long.

Gareth sobs.

BECKY emerges from the ladies room.

Where’s she going with him?

Where do you think?

To Becky, this whole scenario is a fuss over nothing. She goes and sits down.

Well, bring the fork back when you’re ready. There’s no rush.

Fuck you.

Jenny slams the door behind her, sending a cloud of smog and dust through the restaurant. The dust gets into Jerry’s eyes; he blinks. Carl takes out a Swiss army knife and pulls out the tweezers.

Try these.

Jerry fumbles with them to check what they are.

I’m not plucking it out, I’ll blind myself!

No. Try plucking a nose hair out.

He does. A tear runs down his eye.

Good call.


A tear runs down Becky’s eye.

In the silence, the room turns to her. She notices, looking over the faces of the patrons. Most of them are terrified still.

Oh. So I’m the worst person in this room, right? That bastard got what he deserved. How do you think we’re paying for this meal?

Luke and Luke’s Mum (who has regained consciousness) look uncomfortably on. Luke’s Dad looks down into his cold meal in despair. Becky is looking right at him, and the rest of the patrons slowly turn their attention to him too.

You know. You know better than anyone.


LUKE’S MUM (confused)
You know her?

You paid for me. You paid my fucking boyfriend so you could be with me. You and loads of others. He’s been pimping me out for months to scum like you!

Luke’s Dad covers Luke’s ears. He bats his father’s hands away easily.

LUKE’S MUM (overlapping Becky)
No. You’ve got the wrong man. My husband wouldn’t do that… would you? Baby?

Luke’s Dad takes a breath, still not looking up. He doesn’t speak.

How blind can you be?

Becky starts to sob loudly.

What's pimping?

Becky's sobs overlap with the sound of a siren. An emergency vehicle is approaching.

A police car pulls up outside the restaurant. A policeman and a young woman step out and walk into the restaurant.

Becky stifles her sobs and braces herself.

The two approach Becky.

Rebecca Shuttleworth?

Becky nods.

I’m PC Garnett. This is Sophie Summers from victim support. We’ve been trying to contact you for a few weeks.

Sophie smiles uselessly. PC Garnett crouches; lowers his voice.

We know what Gareth has been doing. We can stop it from happening if you cooperate.

I think I’ve stopped it myself, thanks!

We've been informed of the situation. We’d like to help you. But we need you to work with us. I've still got to arrest you, but it's just a formality. I think you'd rather we did that outside.

Sophie helps Becky out of her seat. She slides out from the blood-splattered table and walks, shaking, towards the exit with the woman. PC Garnett approaches Jerry.

Are you the manager?


I'd like to thank you for how you handled this situation. It could have been much worse without you.

Oh... erm, the guy you're looking for is on the way to hospital with a young woman.

Well... that can't be helped. We'll pick him up at A and E.

(To Becky)
You're safe now, Ms. Shuttleworth.

PC Garnett holds the door open for the two women. They are about to reach the door when-


The three stop and turn.

LUKE’S MUM (through tears)
I think my husband might be able to help you.


Fuck it, I’ll come with you.

He gets up and, to the customers’ surprise, walks out with Becky and the 2 others.

Once they have left, other officers file into the restaurant and begin to interrogate the customers. Resting on the floor under the table, Luke’s Polaroid picture shows Gareth in pain.


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Can You Guest Blog for Sweet Female Attitude's Event Next Friday?

Fri 6th of June sees the return of Manchester’s Finest, the best old-skool house music night in Manchester. Hosted by Entourage in the Printworks, Stu Allen’s promising venture will be headlined by noughties garage legends Sweet Female Attitude. Also playing will be Pianoman, Jon Fitz, Adam Guy, Fash, Lee Drake, Matt Wigman, Stef Xiros, Bini, Danny Woods, Stu O’Neill and Andy Finn. The last event was a cracking night with Rozalla performing a live PA. 

I can’t make it to next Friday’s event as it’s Parklife the next morning. Looking forward to the daytime festival but gutted it clashes. Hence, I need a guest blogger!

If you fancy going to a memorable retro house music night and can write, take pictures and shoot video, hit me up now on Twitter or email

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Political Death-Match

 At Writer's Connect, we started to introduce homework projects to spur creativity. I suggested we try out a drabble, an exactly 100-word story.

I used a Gawker article for inspiration.

Dressed flamboyant in Grass-turf textured blazer and flowery blue tiara, Johnny Weir grimaces as he saunters up the steps into the octagon. Across from referee Herb: a worried Vladimir Putin. The bell sounds. Herb jumps back; Putin ices over. He steps forward, fists high.

“Weir is confident,” the commentator says. “He's researched this.”

Weir pounces like a rabid dog, his leather trousers providing grip to Putin's sturdy frame, forcing the grassy jacket into his face. Putin wheezes, knees buckling, and Herb separates them, pushing the inhaler into Putin's mouth. Pink confetti rains over Johnny, and over Russia.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Spicy Bean and Vegetable Stew

I picked a Hairy Dieter's recipe that I knew I could use for lunches in work- something I could ladle out into a microwave bowl and take to the office.

During preparation I- for some reason- ticked of crème freche without actually picking it up, and I was only supposed to squeeze in half a lime and not 2 whole ones, but it still tasted... well, okay. I'm not a veg fan.

I let one of the ladies in work have a taste and she really liked it.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Start your story with an old photograph

At Writers Connect, group leader Oz brought in some old black-and-white photographs for us to use as prompts for a writing exercise. I picked out one picture but didn't get a copy of it. In retro I could have snapped it on my phone. Oh well. It was a 1960's scene of a busy high street. Here's the garbled vignette I produced:

Where'd you get that shirt mate, 1965?”

The teens nudged each other, sniggering.

He looked down, perplexed. “Well, yeah.” He took the box out of his pocket. The LED still flashed.

What's that?” Teen 1 asked.

Something I made,” he mumbled. He looked around. Not much was different, but the roads were busier, the pavements jammed full of style-less people, the buildings glassier. Yet despite all this, the town was quieter, more stealthily hostile.

The photographer was nowhere to be seen. He'd been stood right in front of him, taking his picture and getting a shopper and her young son in the frame by chance. They weren't here, but hundreds of others were.

The camera guy,” he said to the teens. “Where is he?”

Which one?” a boy says. “Everyone's got cameras.” He waves a metal rectangle at him, a thin box.

Look,” the man says. “He gave me this.” He pulls the picture out of his cordoroys, a monochrome scene of the street, structurally the same but the street is now visually odd- cluttered, fierce. He held up the picture to compare. That's when he registered the gaping hole where his head should have been. The picture itself was deteriorating.

So, yeah, sorry about the inverted Back to the Future reference- when you've only got 10 minutes you've got to write whatever comes into your head. Old photos can be a good impetus for a creative writing piece.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

RIP HR Giger

This week saw the passing of legendary Swiss designer H.R. Giger, whose “biomechanical” designs were featured in the movies Alien and Species. I did a project about him in college back in about '99. RIP.

In other news, I pulled out England in the World Cup sweepstake in work. Oh well. The only time I had a decent sweepstake was when I went to Sooty's barbecue.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Marco Carola at the Albert Hall

Last night I checked out Manchester's “newest” nightclub / concert venue. The Albert Hall, the building on Peter St that formerly housed Brannigans, has now reverted back to its original name and reopened as one of the most unique entertainment venues in the city.

I went to see Italian techno DJ Marco Carola and to see how the building's restoration has been pulled off.

The main room of the venue is the adapted church on the upper level of the building, above where Brannigans bar used to be. It's an incredible transformation from an old, dilapidated worship hall to a sophisticated blend of classic-build communal venue and hi-tech club, complete with laser shows and an immense DJ booth positioned right on the alter. The stained-glass windows remain intact, along with the giant organ and upper-level seating area. No pews, which would have been a good touch, but hey, you can't have everything.

The queue to get in was horrendous and security was rigorous, but it was worth it once inside. The venue must have sold out as it was heaving with a good-looking, young crowd but it was gracefully air-conned. The music was a little heavy/repetitive for a house fan but I still got into it.

The chillout room- a quiet area with exhausted clubbers lounging on seats and the floor- is back downstairs, in what was the cocktail bar of Brannigans. A nice touch!

Side note: Manchester is getting RIDICULOUSLY busy at the weekend. If you're a designated driver you must get out to the city EARLY or you'll be parking right on the outskirts of the city. On-street parking fills up fast. Cooperation St on the edge of the Northern Quarter is free at night and always has spaces, but it's a mission to walk to from most bars and clubs. Particularly, I believe, if you're in stilettos.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Sleep Wellbeing 2

I got my results back from the insomnia-combating course, Sleep Wellbeing. I filled in a questionnaire describing my pre-bedtime habits and the current quality of my sleep (poor, on both counts). The course leader has pointed out that the days that I work are days when I go to bed early and wake early, but the weekend days are days when I sleep late and wake late, meaning my body clock shunts about twice every week.

“So,” the advice states, “for two weeks commit to this new routine and plan to be asleep for 12am and wake at 7.30am every day.”

Now, because I love my bars and clubs I may struggle to stick to that. But even if I do have a late night, the course still allows short naps in the afternoons. And with summer on our doorstep, the constant early mornings will- in theory- leave me topped up with vitamin D and ready to face the day.


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Correction to Manchester's Finest

The next Manchester's Finest night is at Entourage on Friday 6th June, not this Friday just gone, as I found out that night after somehow getting in for free despite my request for guest list not being honoured. Still, the old-school garage they were playing brought back happy memories of the turn-of-the-century club and bar scene.

Tonight: bar crawl in leafy Castlefield. Tweet me to get involved.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

NaPoWriMo ends

National Poetry Writing Month has ended. I had a go at some of the prompts over the course of the last month, but I wasn't bowled over by many of them. For this and other reasons, I didn't get my teeth into the project and didn't get anywhere near involved with poetry as I'd planned. I've uploaded the two poems I created from the daily prompts. I was juggling other projects, and attempting to get some poems published (I still need to crack on with this).

The plan for is: send out writing to publications found on Poets & Writers, including poetry and prose. See what happens.