Kindle in the wind

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I got a Kindle a few Christmasses ago mainly because I don’t yet have the money or the space for the Beaty and the Beast style library I always dreamed of, and also because I have to give my Dad specific instructions of what to get me or I’ll end up with all kinds of random stuff. The ebook was a pretty inevitable development when you look at the rest of our modern technology, but what fascinates me is all the debate and near outrage that has sprung up around it. The Giles-from-Buffy types have made it very clear they don’t like what’s going on. As a child of the 90’s I’m fairly comfortable with the technology of the age (except at a recent pub quiz where you had to download an app to play along rather than use pen and paper…that was just weird) but this argument over paper vs pixels goes far deeper.

The first bad point you can make against the ebook is what it does to bookshops. In the cafe I used to work at I remember a woman complaining about her failing business as I guiltily read my kindle on my break. Bookshops are magical places, peaceful places and they joy is in the browsing. It would be a genuine tragedy if their numbers continued decreasing in the wake of the digital book, both for the people who run them and the rest of us. It has always been a small dream of mine to actually work in one, but that might have something to do with the comedy Black Books and the fact that they are never open that long and you don’t have to wash any dishes (I have had five different waitressing jobs). On the other had every time new technology takes over businesses suffer. The printing press ruined the party for Monks, and by party I mean solemn vows of silence and fasting, mass production ruined many trades and if it weren’t for hipsters the record shop would have gone extinct in the wake of the ipod (alas, poor Blockbuster, I knew him well Netflix). Is a sentimental attachment to the we’ve-always-done-it-this-way idea simply foolish? Is there any use in trying to preserve the humble bookshop? Are we just preventing the changing world? I would argue that bookshops and paper books don’t necessarily need to die out like so many vinyl shops. Like I said they’re still magical places and the beauty is in finding something you weren’t looking for. Kindles are good if you’re after a specific title, bookshops mean finding rare gems. Or even finding old dictionaries with 200 year old signatures on the first page, or rare prints that are beautifully worn. I think as long as there are romantics and hipsters there will always be bookshops. Or at least as long as girls like me are watching Beauty and the Beast.

One of the things that sometimes annoys me about the pro-book side of the debate is the occasional snobbery. When people badmouth the ebook they can sometimes give of the impression that they care about the concept of books rather than books themselves. If you’ve read War and Peace on an ebook you may as well not have read it at all. Its about the smell and the cover and the bookmark and how clever it makes you look. Surely the ultimate value of books is in the words. as long as I’m reading it who cares how right? So much anti technology debate involves the “dumbing down” argument, surely this cannot be used against the ebook? I’ve read books I otherwise wouldn’t have read because of cheap and easy download. Free download sometimes. I’m reading the author and that’s ultimately what counts. Like I said I don’t have the money or the space for a beautiful library with leather bound first prints. I would if I could. I already have a small ikea bookshelf fit to bursting. Ebooks allow for acces to work that students and other skint people might not always have had. The same philosophy behind Penguin Classics can be applied – good books made available. There can be a distinct impression that fiercely anti ebook people prefer to keep reading the preserve of those who have the time, the space and the money. Arguably it takes the pretentiousness out of being an avid reader. You could be reading Austen or Stephanie Meyer, who knows?! That being said the anonymity of the ebook means trashy awful hell books like Fifty Shades Of Grey get a zillion times more success than they deserve. I am partially on the side of the book snob.The paper book does have a beauty to it you just can’t get from its digital counterpart. My Mum handing me the most dog eared copy of “Eggs, Beans and Crumpets” by PG Wodehouse that had been passed through three generations and fell apart while I was reading it has no romantic equivalent in the digital world. But books shouldn’t just be about the romance of fireplaces and leather armchairs and herbal tea, they should be about the words first and foremost. What I have noticed too is the upsurge in re-released copies of classics with beautiful covers. Book designers now have to step up their game. They make excellent gifts and keepsakes, you can read the book digitally, fall in love with it and buy a gorgeous new print of it to treasure. Not to mention all the rainforests we’re saving.

As an aspiring writer I suppose it would be far nicer to see a hardback copy of your work with that nice new book smell the ages fabulously into that lovely vintage book smell, but like I said, the words are most important. However it would be nice to have the best of both worlds, the far reach and easy access of the digital book with the romance and the beauty of a paper copy. Ultimately whichever path leads us to become a nation that reads more is the one I choose.

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Club Hate Relationship

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By the time I got to university I had been going to my small town’s single terrible nightclub on a semi regular basis. I was already done and dusted with them. Freshers week felt like a chore to me. I would have preferred to get to know my new flatmates by talking to them rather than getting drunk and dancing with a group of strangers. This has never been the normal way to get close to someone. However I had to do it. I didn’t want to be known as the weird flatmate who never went out with everyone and ended up miles behind in the friendship stakes. I reluctantly went clubbing to keep my reputation as a fun, normal person. This carried on. I dragged myself to clubs reluctantly on a weekly basis to avoid being seen as a loser. I would groan on a saturday when I was asked if I was “out tonight” and have to feign excitement. It would be the same every week. Same music, same people, same routine, I began looking for excuses to skip nights out and would then sit in my room watching sitcoms and feeling like I was missing out. This year I’ve decided to be honest.

I am 21 years old and as such I am expected to be full of life and to propel that force outwardly in nightclubs. They only really work on you if you’re young. Nightclubs play music so loud you can’t possibly have a conversation that isn’t screaming I’M JUST GOING TO THE TOILET into someone’s ear. This means the only available activity is dancing. For literally hours. And I don’t mean ‘literally’ as in that’s what it feels like, I mean you are required to do nothing but dance for hours on end. You only have this kind of energy for a short period of time and for me that is already gone. I’ve never been particularly high energy and on hour three of dancing I am silently praying that someone else will ask if everyone wants to go home yet. It irritates me that clubs don’t offer more. There are chairs and tables dotted around the side of the dancefloor, sure, but the comical volume of the music means you could not have a conversation. I recently took to wearing earplugs on nights out to prevent that awful ringing you get in your ears, and every now and then I’ll pop them out just to remind myself how loud the music actually is. It has to be measured on a richter scale. Of course you can’t complain because that would make you “old”.

There’s a reason people pre drink before going out. Actually there are several reasons. Drinks are expensive at bars. Nothing that fun ever actually happens when you’re in a club so the pre drink is where the fun is. You have to be drunk to enjoy yourself. If you described any other thing with “I would have to be off my face to have fun” that would be a succinct way to say it was so mind numbingly dull you would have to drink yourself into a stupor to tolerate it. Yet it is accepted you must be drunk in a nightclub. If someone asks how your night was and you say you were sober they will roll their eyes and grunt in solidarity for how terrible that must have been. Sober clubbing is not fun. There are sweaty people grinding into you. Elbows are flying in your face. Everything is sticky and smells bad. The music they play is not music you listen to in your right mind. Usually the pressure to be drunk means you can’t manage it no matter how many jagerbombs you down. The need to be pissed feels like a requirement rather than a bonus. Being drunk in a pub is a laugh. Being drunk in a club is the only way you can put up with it.

Club music has become a genre of its own. As obnoxiously loud as it can possibly be with completely inane or no lyrics. Sometimes these songs become associated with fun memories and parties and you enjoy dancing to them. Familiarity breeds fist pumping. Sometimes you like the song enough that you actually leap out of your seat to dance to it. More often than not the club will have a DJ that likes to show off by splicing three bars of your favourite song with another one and expecting you to go crazy for its unholy offspring. My dancing drive comes from knowing the song and liking it. If I’ve never heard the song and I find myself trying to copy the people who clearly do my energy drains to nothing within the first verse. I had a night recently in the local hipster haven where I didn’t know a damm song they played for hours. It was generic hipster porridge without even a serviceable beat. I would have happily gone home after two songs. What’s worse is a DJ who plays nothing but a beat, a standard untz untz untz sound for you to dance to like some awful ancient pagan ritual that will culminate in a sacrifice. There’s always someone in your group who drags you to that corner of the club and seems to love it while you decide to go with your friend to the smoking area just to get away from it.

It’s also hard to have fun if you’re female. We get some perks sure, getting ready can be the best part of going out. That’s not an exaggeration. Expressing yourself through clothes, hair and makeup is a luxury afforded to us and on a night out we can really go for it. The problems start when you get there. If you’re a man reading this ask one of your female friends how often they’ve been groped or harassed on a night out. It may shock you. You may never have seen this behaviour because in a mixed group you’re less likely to end up on the receiving end of it. It’s sad but men respect other men enough not to approach their women. In a big group of girls or even being temporarily detached from your group you find yourself constantly on guard. Someone might feel you up in the queue for the bar. Someone might grab you or parts of you as you cross the dancefloor, or take your mildly suggestive dancing as a sign that any man in the room is welcome to you and you’re a prude lesbian bitch if you say no. It gets to a point where an entire security system is required. A hand signal that shows a creepy guy is bothering you, a buddy system, a head count once you’ve all left, having to rescue your friends from overzealous drunks who won’t take no for an answer. I slapped a guy once for making a particularly awful suggestion, it’s a battlefield out there if you’re a woman.

If you’re young in the current generation then you have no alternative to nightclubs. There is no ‘dance’, no one will ask you politely to couple up with them. There is no band playing or special new dance that is all the rage. I asked my friends recently if they would rather waltz or twerk? The answer was a resounding “waltz!”. Like many of my generation I feel cheated. The nights out of our grandparents prime and before seem glitteringly romantic and glamourous in comparison. While it is nice to dance of your own accord rather than waiting to be asked it feels like a far more satisfying experience. My Mum once told me about a trip to ireland and being asked to dance by young men on nights out, it just sounds so much more exciting. If I had a choice between the two I wouldn’t care, I may even occasionally choose clubbing. I just don’t understand why we all decided this was better.

Perhaps the worst thing about clubs is being constantly told how great they are. Leaflets, posters, mailing lists all tell you just how ‘bangin’ their nights are. How cheap their drinks are. How crazy it gets after a certain time. You are constantly being told how cool it is. Not just by clubs themselves but by your friends. Facebook statuses about how many times you’ve been out this week, pictures of people posing on dancefloors holding up a sign with the name of the club, your friends going “whaaaaat don’t be boring!” if you say you’re not coming out tonight. The truth is a lot of people feel the same as me. We’ve all kept up this lie that clubbing is the most fun you can have, the reason we have weekends and we all just roll with it. Ask people honestly, in the cold light of day what they think and they’ll probably admit they aren’t as much of a good time as everyone says. You know there’s something wrong if people in their 20s turn to you and say “I’m too old for this shit!”.

‘Hannibal’ and why you should watch it

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Today I will be recommending what is to me the best show currently on television. Yes I’m including Game of Thrones (losing points for gratuitous sexual violence), Sherlock and probably all the stuff I haven’t seen.

Hannibal is a prequel to the Thomas Harris crime novels and subsequent adaptations helmed by showrunner and nightmare magician Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies). It stars Mads Mikkelsen who is carved from fine oak as the gentleman cannibal himself and human puppy Hugh Dancy as emotionally troubled detective Will Graham. What you’re thinking right now of course is why. They’re flogging a decomposed horse right? The brilliant Silence Of The Lambs movie and countless other less successful adaptations have bled the fine chianti dry and the world does not need another rehash, prequel, reboot, remake or whatever you want to call it. This idea means that ‘Hannibal’ doesn’t get great ratings.

The show is one of those great underappreciated gems that is adored by critics and devoted fans (we’re called ‘fannibals’. Hi) but is criminally overlooked by the general public and is thus constantly on the brink of cancellation. However fan power and critical praise mean the show is currently baking a third series and my mission is to create as many new fannibals before then.

So lets start off with what makes the show unique. What could be unique about a story which has been adapted many times of a scary serial killer and an antisocial, brooding super detective? Not only has the formula been done to death the actual characters have too. You would be right to think that, but Hannibal stands out in a sea of gritty crime dramas as an emotional, operatic and darkly beautiful production. Instead of weekly!murdered!prostitute! the murders take the form of artistic tableaus, art installations of blood and guts that you simply can’t look away from. The show relies on metaphor and imagery that is often missing from the genre and  regularly includes visually breathtaking scenes. I’ll just let them speak for themselves. Look away if you don’t like gore.

Detective Will Graham has what is described as an empathy disorder. What makes him valuable to the FBI is his ability to instantly get into the heads of serial killers. We actually see him commit the murders he is investigating as he coldly verbalises the thoughts behind the actions. That’s what’s so clever about the show – the hero is shown killing more people than the monster he is trying to catch. As the series progresses his emotional state becomes more unstable. Other shows often glamourise murder or feature cold, hardened protagonist anti-heroes who remain unaffected by what they have seen. While the crime scenes are repulsively beautiful (try and use that description for anything else) the true emotional aftermath is not ignored. And in a televised world of hardened, emotionless ‘high functioning sociopaths’ an emotionally vulnerable protagonist feels like a breath of fresh air.

Another thing you should love about this show is its refusal to worship at the altar of ‘gritty’. The dirty realism and hypermasculine energy of most crime procedurals is completely missing and it’s what makes it so refreshing. There are no scenes randomly shot in strip clubs, no grim and grey sets, no filthy back alleys or misogynist killers. There ARE elaborate visual metaphors, dream sequences (and horrible nightmare sequences) and a deliberate effort to make the dialogue poetic and memorable. As Alana Bloom says ‘fear is the price of imagination’ and the two are combined to form a visual masterpiece. The writers care more about the deeper meaning and the emotional reality than how much it reflects real life. And it is all done spectacularly. Who cares if it would be night on impossible to arrange a body like that? It’s just so damm striking.  Not to mention the actual effort to diversify the cast. Alan Bloom? More like AlanBloom. Freddy Lounds is now a woman and you will love her and her outfits. Jack Crawford is black (played to perfection by Lawrence Fishbourne) and his wife has a story arc. Get ready to have your heart broken. And feast your eyes on this quote from Bryan Fuller:

I don’t want to do rape stories on the show, because I don’t find them entertaining. I think that they’re exploitive. There are some rape elements intrinsic in the novels that I’m like how do we shift that story so it’s not about rape. I just feel very strongly as a feminist and somebody who likes women. I just can’t derive any sort of entertainment pleasure from it. So that’s why we steer away from those things. 

That shouldn’t be a revolutionary statement for a writer to make but it is. Which brings me on to the fannibals.

Becoming a fan of Hannibal means becoming a Fannibal. I’ve always shunned the idea of ‘fandom’. Either you like something or you don’t, there is no reason you would have anything in common with everyone else who likes it so why label yourselves? But Hannibal fans are people you want to be involved with. Usually young, well read, intelligent women they have a sublimely silly sense of humour to counteract the seriousness of the show. And buckets of talent. Observe this fanart.

Hannibal by TheMinttu

And er.. this fan art

(Comic) The Adventures of Hannibal the Cannibal #1 by ekzotik

And whatever the hell this is

Be warned – not all fan art is PG

Back to the show itself. The plot grows and twists and engulfs you like ivy and is as deep an intricate as tree roots. Read all of Thomas Harris? Can you quote every line from Silence? You still have no idea what’s coming. The showmakers have described themselves as “Thomas Harris mash up DJs” and that is what they do. Elements from different novels are put together and twists and turns are brought in that you wont see coming. Characters that are given a throwaway mention in the books become an essential part of the plot. The character of Dr Hannibal Lecter himself is of course the most intriguing. Here he is a practising psychiatrist, respected and unsuspected. He is brought on to help Will Graham psychologically but naturally he has his own diabolical game to play. What struck me most is how much you are taken in by him as a viewer. An intelligent, dapper, well dressed gentlemen with exquisite tastes and no outward signs of evil, you understand completely why he got away with it. There is no one in the western world who doesn’t know who Hannibal Lecter is and yet you forget who Hannibal Lecter is. The first time he is shown killing someone you find yourself shocked and disappointed in him. “Oh goddammit I liked him!” The fans make a point of the fact that his name rhymes and his regular use of puns. Mads Mikkelsen’s performance is flawless. It may even be better than Anthony Hopkins’. He can’t go full evil, his true nature is beautifully disguised and his monstrosity is occasionally glimpsed. It will be a real treat to see Silence era Hannibal played by Mikkkelsen. His composure so far is tighter than a violin string.

Hannibal is one of the most emotionally and intellectually rewarding shows on television. If not the most. I would urge you to give it a chance before series three. Chances are you’ll be just as obsessed as the rest of us.

Nitty Gritty Pretty One – writing angst

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The running theme through my life has been organisation, structure and my lack of them. My handwriting is an illegible mess. The old idea of an infinite amount of monkeys with an infinite amount of typewriters? My freehand looks like an infinite amount of monkeys with an infinite amount of crayons. Caused problems between me and the kitchen when I was a waitress. My various bedrooms have always looked like a piece of art entitled “dire need of storage”. I hardly ever have my week organised and I never keep a diary.

One of the many reasons I have chosen writing as a career is that my remarkable lack of logic and order shouldn’t bee too much of a problem. My skills of making stuff up far exceed my ability to retain facts. New technology means people can actually decipher my writing as it comes in a handy menu of fonts and save for windings they are all readable. In front of a keyboard I can let loose my scattered brain and dress it up with bitchin similes and make a fortune. The fact I never developed a left side of my brain is a help rather than a hindrance.

I got some feedback at University this week on a piece I wrote during exam period last year. My prof, a bouncy enthusiastic type, praised my ideas and saw what I was “trying” to do but once again came out with the critique that has followed me around my whole life. I lack structure. I need to work on my sentences and their varying lengths, my paragraphs need to be paragraph shaped and my prose style needs streamlining. I understood entirely what he meant and nodded along. I could tell here stood a man who has read enough rambling stream of consciousness pieces from me to bewilder him forever. He told me read the guide books, read some essays from Orwell and other accomplished types, work out what you’re trying to say and edit.

Editing is my first problem. After I write I’m reluctant to go through it again, sure I’ll find some glaring flaw and cringe at the thought of anyone else reading it. Inevitably when I do read through my work I vary between “this is worse than fifty shades of grey” and “hey I’m pretty good!”. As they say writing is rewriting, I simply need to force myself through my work and adopt an objective eye and kill my darlings, as Hemingway said. This ruthlessness is not in my nature, after struggling to find the right word for ages deleting it later on can feel counter productive. The scenes in ‘Throw Momma from the Train’ where Billy Crystal’s writer tries to come up with the end to his opening  sentence “The night was…” are extremely relateable. The word, in the end, is ‘sultry’.

My best writing fuel is actually being passionately involved with what I’m writing. If I’m looking forward to what I’m about to put down it can come out fully baked in a single session and I still look at it with pride years later. If I’m staring blankly at the screen trying to find my ‘sultry’ I normally give up. However when you’re doing it as a degree you don’t have the option to give up on certain things. They have to be finished and before the deadline. What results is a disjointed waffling that I want to forget ever happened. Perhaps structure is not something I need to achieve but something I should free myself from. Script writing comes with its own structure which oddly allows for more freedom. I don’t have to worry about it, it’s been hollywood law for years. Poetry as well has a rhythm which is discernible to writer and reader.

The main struggle is getting the grand vision in my head down on paper. I can’t do the George R.R. Martin trick of intricate and interwoven plots which pay off spectacularly, at least not yet. I can lose steam quickly when I don’t know how to shape my ideas. The best way to work is backwards, a mildly exciting idea that grows out like ivy and becomes something much bigger than you originally designed. It’s a brilliant surprise and a great ego boost. Then comes the boring stuff. The nitty gritty, the editing and rewriting and making sure it makes sense to your readers. This, I’m told, I have to learn and now. I’m capable of it, It just needs to become natural.

Bullscript – the movie blueprint

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Unlike a lot of people, especially in my generation, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do in life. My ambition is to write scripts for movies. Good scripts. I took a joint honours in creative writing and film studies with the ultimate scheme of becoming the architect of what comes out of actor’s mouths. Dialogue, from my point of view, is an art form that requires a perfect balance of naturalism and poetry. When it’s good it turns a movie into a cult classic, it makes you sit back and wish you had the brains and the wit to talk like that all the time. “I’m a mushroom cloud laying motherfucker motherfucker!”

It can sometimes feel like not everyone shares my view of the art of scripting. I’ve heard scripts being described as ‘blueprints’ more than once. Blueprints, I understand, take incredible skill to produce if you’re building a house. In the context of cinema it seems to be a way of reducing the importance of the script.

On an episode of Futurama in which Zoidberg produces a movie for his ageing has-been film star uncle the gang attend an Oscars ceremony. When asked how far along it is Bender replies “they’re on to the minor technical awards. They’re just about to do writing”.The depressing thing is a writer came up with this joke. More disheartening is when I left the cinema after watching Dracula Untold (Draculeficent) with my flatmates. They all decided it was good. I decided it was good with a few asterisks, most notably the slightly cheesy, by-the-numbers dialogue. My flatmate said she never really noticed “things like that” and asked me as a film student do I pick up on the finer details. This was a bummer, given that these finer details were my strongest passion in life.

As a film fan I always considered the script to be the most important aspect of a movie. The acting cam close second, the editing, locations, directing and cinematography were like side dishes that if they impressed could take a film from mundane to exemplary in my estimations. The scripts is what matters though. No script, no movie. Bad script, watching the movie occasionally sucking air through your teeth and shouting CLANG! Is it only confirmed movie fans who notice these things? The general cinema going populace being underestimated is what often leads to bad moviemaking. As long as it makes money who cares if people were gigglesnorting during what was supposed to be the romantic climax!

As a former drama student I know what a bad script did. A bad script meant your acting was bad. Your direction was bad. No one knew how to say a certain godawful line to make it sound good. Meryl Streep would act like Danny Dyer given a bad script. They still happen though. All the gratuitous nudity and CGI dragons can’t save a clanger of a line. It the least expensive way to ensure a good outcome. I shouldn’t complain however, every cheesy exchange I see on screen only assures me I have at least enough talent to get into the biz so often called ‘show’. I could even get a job making half baked scripts a lot better.On the other hand the image of the bitter, grizzled writer who faces constant rejection and belittlement is all too common, hence the Futurama joke. And me when my article for online student media thingy The Tab got rejected. That’s water under the bridge though. They’ll see one day!

So where’s all this heading? I recently began lectures in my Writing For The Screen module. Going from writing for fun in school to writing for grades at uni is always a change. You go from a cheering section of enthusiastic English teachers who are just so glad you turned up for extracurricular poetry that they’re delighted in whatever crap you spin to a published professor who’s read every trope of inexperienced writing in the book and will give you praise only if he really digs it. So I sat facing a man who has worked in Hollywood asking in a patronising, world weary tone if we wanted to write ‘sparkling’ dialogue? I found myself weekly nodding. He told us to cut down our floral language, get out of the directors business, ‘kill our darlings’. So there miss dreamalot, write some half decent dialogue and don’t expect to get a Chanel dress for the premiere and have Ryan Gosling’s arm around your waist and Kevin Spacey pointing at you like “this girl’s a genius!”. Then he gave us a script to annotate. The very brilliant In Bruges by Martin Mcdonagh. It was, in a word, sparkling. It was witty, original and hinted at profundity which I can tell you does appear in that movie. It’s a gem. So the Hollywood dismissal of the writer is avoidable. You can write a glittering script that stays with the viewer,whoever they are. You just have to get good at it.

The Gun in the Tearoom (short film)

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INT. TEAROOM – DAY

Four people, around 19/20 years old, sit round a table. The room is empty save for an old lady with her back to the rest of the room in the corner. At the table we are focused on there are two girls; Cam and Gina, and two boys; Trav and Mike. They are talking loudly.

GINA

Okay, okay, so what you’re telling me is there’s no way a woman can reach the skill level needed to play premier league football?

TRAV

(shrugs)

Well…yeah. Have you seen girls play football? They’re rubbish!

Mike laughs, but is quickly given a dirty look by Gina.

GINA

(Leaning forward, staring Trav down. He is clearly scared but composes himself)

You are honestly telling me… that a girl, no matter her skill, cannot be as good as any man is at football?

TRAV

(pauses)

Well…yeah. Look, I watched a couple of women’s football matches on the telly and they all couldn’t play!

GINA

(Pause)

Well, let me give you a solid example. My friend Carly…

TRAV

Who?

GINA

She’s a friend of mine you don’t know! I have a life outside you lot! Anyway she is a black belt in karate. Now that means she passed all the required gradings. She’s also been successful in a bunch of regional competitions. Now karate isn’t segregated by gender at all. She learns in the same way the male students do, and when she competes she holds her own against fully grown men three times her size. Now of course, karate isn’t football but you can’t deny they both require a fairly similar level of speed, strength and endurance. And like I said, she’s not a big girl, but she still manages. If it’s a question of speed, strength and endurance and women falling short in these categories I can’t agree with you on that.

There is a pause.

TRAV

Look I’m sure your friend is excellent at jui jitsu or whatever but I’ve seen women playing football, which is what we are talking about, and they sucked!

CAM

Ok, this is boring now. (Drinks tea, slurps loudly, gets a few dirty looks)Do rock paper scissors for it.

(they do, Gina loses)

GINA

This aint over.

CAM

Now…you are probably wondering why I said we should meet.

GINA

I’m guessing the raid?

CAM

Precisely. I called you here cos I’m gonna do a revelation

TRAV

One of your famous revelations?

CAM

It is going to rock your tiny world, Trav.

They all pause, expectant. She looks around, reaches into a backpack on the floor and pulls out a handgun, placing it on the table. They all shift back with a jolt, Mike scrambles out of his seat. The old woman in the corner looks over and tuts.

CAM

ta-da.

MIKE

Cam! Jesus! Is it loaded!

CAM

No, Mike, it isn’t loaded – wait, how do you tell if it’s loaded without firing it? (she waves it about by Trav’s head, hitting him on the temple with it accidentally.)

MIKE

(Jumps back)

JESUS!

GINA

(Open mouthed, hypnotically focussed on the gun)

She’s not gonna fire the gun, shut up Mike. You should probably sit down.

He slowly sits, horrified. We see a shot of the old lady in the corner of the room casually drinking tea as though the place is quiet.

GINA

(Takes a deep breath and composes herself, Trav follows suit)

OK. Cam, where did you get the gun?

CAM

My uncle had it. Turns out he’s a conspiracy nut and got it so the the illuminati won’t get him , or something. I just took it. I reckoned he can’t accuse me of taking it without admitting he owned it and with his history they would lock him up straight away!

MIKE

We should not be talking about this Cam, we’ll get kicked out! No… no, we’ll get put in prison. I am not going to prison for any of you! I don’t like any of you enough!

TRAV

Then why are you bothering with the raid at all! We could get put away for that!

MIKE

Because I want my money back as much as any of you, but I am definitely not going away for having a duel in a tearoom! What are you planning, that we break into the place with a gun?

TRAV

It’s not a duel.

MIKE

What?

TRAV

A duel is where here are two guns with two people pointing them at each other; this is one gun lying on a table in an almost empty tearoom.

GINA

Well, this is as good a time as any.

(She pulls out a bigger gun and places it next to Cams’, who sulks slightly at having been outranked.)

MIKE

JESUS!

TRAV

Oh, for crying out loud! where did you get that?

GINA

Cam and I are cousins. Uncle Steve is twice as crazy as initially thought.

MIKE

So what are you planning, here, we break in with GUNS now? As in plural?!

GINA

Well… this way it doesn’t matter if we have to do it during the day, they still have to give us the money!

Cam laughs

MIKE

Can we at least discuss this somewhere else? There is another customer in earshot!

CAM

Oh please, she’s harmless! She won’t even remember this; she asked to borrow a shilling off me when we arrived!

GINA

My Grandma’s like that, trust me she’s no threat to us

CAM

Oh yeah, how is your grandma?

GINA

She’s doing well, thanks Cam! I got her one of those old lady wheely suitcase things, she loves it!

CAM

I can’t wait to be old enough to own one of those!

TRAV

Not important! Gina, Cam, why do you think we need guns, let’s start there.

GINA

Look, this in England, guns are the last thing people expect and the last thing they’re prepared for, as long as we’re extra careful not to get caught we’ll be in and out without any trouble.

CAM

She’s right, we know none of us are any good at fighting – that’s how we got into this mess.

(Gina flashes Trav a dirty look, he looks down)

CAM

This way we have full co-operation. And tell me the truth, you’ve never wanted to fire guns? Pick it up.

(Mike looks at the gun and slowly picks it up as though it might burn him. He cocks it, and smiles a tiny bit.)

MIKE

Huh…

TRAV

(stands up)

Ok… this is getting out of hand. He’s got a… look in his eye!

GINA

A look? What are you talking about?!

TRAV

You look at him and tell that’s not a look we should be worried about!

CAM

You just need to chill out, you can’t be like this on the day!

TRAV

Oh… shove it, Cam, you’ve been treating this like a damm tarantino since we started! Gina never should have let someone like you in on this!

CAM

(walks up to him, narrows eyes)

Oh and what’s that supposed to mean?

TRAV

It means you’re unstable! We can’t risk someone with a criminal record coming with us and for some reason Gina won’t get rid of you.

GINA

(Stands up)

Cam has experience Trav, and besides, she knows too much about it now.

TRAV

She’s too risky, Gina, and now she has a gun! Actually, now thanks to you she has two guns within reaching distance and it’s only a matter of time before she flies into one of her famous tempers!

CAM

(Grabs his shirt)

You shut your mouth Trav or I’ll guarantee it!

GINA

Whoa, whoa, whoa, Cam, Cam? Calm down ok… you promised me you’d work with him. We are this close, Cam, we don’t need this.

(Cam lets go)

GINA

OK, are we OK!

TRAV

(spitting the words)

If the bitch doesn’t go mental again…

(Cam darts to the table and grabs the gun lying there, and points it inches from Travs’ face)

GINA

Cam, no!!

CAM

You gonna say that again? Hm? You gonna say that right…now. You love this don’t you? Being right! Too bad this time you were right about me.

(Another Gun appears by her head. We see Mike is holding it)

MIKE

Cam… please put him down – and then I’ll put this down and then…

CAM

Then what, me and him are best friends forever?

GINA

Cam, you LISTEN TO ME!!

CAM

You can shut up too! ‘Mum’!

GINA

Oh, now you’re starting on me?

(CAM looks at GINA, turns gun on her)

CAM

Yeah why not actually, you’ve been pissing me off too!

(GINA slams fist on table in frustration, generally acts like a child just caught in hide and seek)

CAM

You and your big words, you’re no smarter than me y’know they just make you sound desperate!

MIKE

CAM! (rest of group seemed shocked at him raising his voice)

CAM

What?! (she instinctively turns to face him. Now they both have guns pointing at each other. They pause like this)

MIKE

I will if you will.

VOICE

All of you need to calm down!

(They look over slowly. The old lady in the corner is stood facing them)

OLD LADY

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a sorry display! Not to say I haven’t seen this before… beginners. Think a weapon can solve their problems. Turn them into big people. I’ve seen a man take down a whole organisation with a bloodstained fist, you know how? He knew he could do it! That’s what you need, all of you! You won’t get anywhere with an attitude, like a nest of baby birds fighting for food, no matter how many bullets you have.

(She walks up to Mike)

OLD LADY

You know better than anyone you can’t face up to squeezing the trigger, you may as well be pointing a toothbrush at her. Now put it back on the table.

(He obeys. She walks over to Cam, speaking inches from her face)

OLD LADY

I’ve seen your type before. Whatever your planning, no one benefits from a trigger happy hothead. If he’s being a loudmouth, if she keeps acting like your mother, It doesn’t matter. Acting like this is a damm spaghetti western won’t fix things. You know what to do.

(She puts the gun down slowly. )

OLD LADY

I think you could work well. Maybe even take on bigger people. But you all need to get over yourselves.

(She puts money down on her table and leaves slowly. There is a pause.)

GINA

OK. So no guns.

THE END.

Captain’s Blog (all my titles will be puns)

Standard

I now have a blog because people keep telling me to blog.

I am in my second year of study at the University of Hull on a Film and Creative Writing course. Expect film and pop culture nonsense, existential freakouts and feminist rantings.

I’m a vegetarian, a Morrissey devotee and I like my men how I like my coffee – Irish.

My name is Gaelic, pronounced like Kir-a and I have given up correcting some people on the pronunciation. I’ve had see-air-a, claire, cara, clara, chiara…

I don’t do selfies because cameras confuse and intimidate me and my face produces the same effect on them. In case you’re wondering I look a bit like Lorde with bad hair.

I may post actual writing including short stories, poems and scripts so just roll with it.

See ya around

Ciara x