The Homeowner’s Club

The Homeowner’s Club

On a blustery November evening, I stood just inside the doorway surveying my surroundings. The ground floor was a study in opposites; the living room was sleek and clean (with a sofa and chair fully assembled and comfortable) whilst the dining area was nothing but cardboard chaos. However, the mess in my immediate vicinity could do nothing to subdue my mood or my quiet sense of elation.

Louise and I had left behind the Chorltonian flat that had been our home together for nearly two and a half years and made the move to a new house; one that could be our home for years to come. A house with gas central heating (I really hate electric space heaters), a backyard (well, a timber-decked area, but it has barbecue space so it’s good enough for me) and a front door that we don’t have to share with strangers.

It’s taken a long time to get here; it’s been five months since we had our mortgage offer issued (the offer only lasts for six months, so the panic had started to build). Now we’re here. A move that we had originally allowed a month to complete was wrapped up in six days. Once the place had undergone a mammoth cleaning job (the previous owner had left it in a less than desirable condition) the pride began to grow. Proud of it not just because it’s our new home, but because it is ours (just don’t get me started on the madness of mortgages). We own it and its condition is a reflection on us. We can’t just blame a slack landlord anymore; the house’s troubles (here’s hoping that they will be few and far between) are ours to solve, but the joy the place brings is ours alone (and maybe to share).

All of these thoughts, feelings and more washed over me as I stood on the house’s threshold, the border of what was and what would be. Heavy thoughts indeed after a week of heavy lifting. But I was able to relax afterwards on the first sofa I’ve ever actually owned (always having been a patron of furnished accommodation) as I allowed myself to be settled by it.

We were home, Louise and I, and now is the time to enjoy it (once we unpack all the boxes, of course).



It was two weeks ago, as the green ‘Publish’ button sat ready to be pressed, that I thought long and hard about what would happen next. Email notifications would be sent and social media outlets would be flooded with our invitations (although to anyone already following our social media, this campaign would be anything but new). Once it had been pressed, I knew that we had done the right thing.

I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken about anything else (this very site has evidence of that here, here and here) but that’s because the film that we launched on the morning of October 30th was a genuine labour of love. Other people getting the chance to see the finished product (whether they love it or hate it) is my primary concern. The level of effort that went in from the cast, crew and everyone else involved was phenomenal. The film is out there in the world and although it might not make us overnight millionaires (let’s not kid ourselves) people can finally see what all the fuss has been about.

I’m so proud of Shooting on the Rim, like a doting father watching his child taking its first steps; whether it walks a mile or falls after three feet, the sense of achievement is the same. It is with that pride that I invite everyone to watch it. It is with that pride that I can say “we did it”.

You can find Shooting on the Rim on Vimeo On Demand here.

The White Poppy

The White Poppy

Jeremy Corbyn. A name that most people outside of the constituency of Islington North had never heard six months ago, but one that is now imprinted on the the nation’s consciousness. The man has amassed a great public following and an even greater sense of outrage from the right-wing and its bulldog; the (mainly Rupert Murdoch-owned) British press.

Why so much panic and indignant sneering? A whole bunch of reasons (Corbyn has been an MP for over thirty years, after all), but for starters here are a few that stand out to me:

  1. The man embodies substance over style and the media can’t seem to understand why he chooses to walk or cycle to work (rather than expensing a cab fare) and why he doesn’t wear sharper suits (prefering comfort with an unbottoned top button and a natural look). The man lets his principles speak for him rather than his appearance.
  2. He has values that he does not wish to compromise, believing instead that honesty and integrity should power the political process instead of bluster and wildly hyperbolic make-believe (as has sadly become the norm in the Palace of Westminster).
  3. He’s ‘Old Labour’, which is to say that he is more left-wing than ‘New Labour’. People are genuinely freaking out that the party that brought about the creation of the NHS and the minimum wage is now being led by a man with a huge conscience of social responsibility. Crazy, right?

The big controversial outrage that I want to talk about, however, is more specific; Corbyn’s decision on whether or not to wear a white poppy for Remembrance Day commemorations instead of/as well as the traditional red poppy. Why is this a big deal for the newspapers and the nightly talking heads? Because the white poppy is a symbol of peace and pacifism and it is seen as a protest to armed conflict. Again, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Corbyn is a self-confessed pacifist who does not agree with the taking of human life for any reason. Wearing a symbol of peace at a ceremony to remember the end of a war and to reflect on those violently taken by it seems to make sense to me.

Let’s think for a moment about pacifism. Why is it a dirty word for politicians? Pacifism is the belief that human life is important enough not to waste it warring with each other. Believing that diplomacy is better than sabre-rattling shouldn’t be something that is criticised or ridiculed. It should be a concept that is aspired to. Jeremy Corbyn wants to live in a world without war. I’d quite like that too, but the usual politicians and media outlets do not. Why not?

It is possible to show respect for those who died without having to respect the war itself. Who honestly respects warfare? It is a truly terrible thing that we do to each other and no one should ever have to go through the traumas of it, neither as a soldier or as a civilian. Corbyn believes that wars should not happen and if he chooses to wear a symbol of that belief there should not be a massive uproar over it. I would rather have that than a Prime Minister who would wish to glorify war. Think about that for a second. The person in this country with the greatest ability to send people into combat wants to make out that battle is glorious and pacifism is a dirty word. This concept does not fill me with confidence of a lasting peaceful future.

Everyone should be a pacifist, really. If everyone in the world was a pacifist, we wouldn’t have wars that slaughter millions. Nobody would want to start one, preferring instead to talk things through diplomatically. Maybe this is a fairytale and people will always want to fight and kill each other. Perhaps that is so, but I believe that change has to start somewhere. Possibly even with just one man.

So, Jeremy Corbyn, I hope you wear the white poppy. I hope that you show up at the Cenotaph in a plain suit, with your top button undone. I hope you maintain another respectful silence whilst David Cameron belts out ‘God Save the Queen’ until he’s red in the face. Most importantly though, I hope you keep hold of the principles that have gotten you this far, because although Cameron is the kind of politician that we probably deserve, you are the kind of politician that we need.

One More Can’t Hurt…

One More Can’t Hurt…

So I have done the unthinkable. I have added another two projects on to my pile of already unfinished ideas and concepts. The good news is that one of them is a collaboration with a friend (so I can share the balance of procrastination with another). The bad news is that (along with being yet more work to eventually complete) my newest project is a reimagining of a much-loved property, so it may never see the light of day for that reason alone (as well as the fact that it might be terrible, but you know, positivity and that).

Whereas before I had time and nothing to write about, I now have the very real problem of having too much to write. This is a problem because the work starts to feel overwhelming; their are so many to work on that I contribute to none of them due to not knowing what to do next. It’s a vicious cycle of either having no ideas, or having too many ideas to be able to focus properly so nothing is written at all. This kind of issue is heartbreaking because I have an impressive body of work in the making, but not much to actually show for it.

The solution to this is the same as it has always been; do the damned work. I know others who can focus, complete one project and then move on to something new. I envy these people. It shouldn’t be so hard for me to do the same, but I get to a point where I don’t know what to add to something. I then take a break and a new idea pops into my head. I get excited about the new idea and then I pour my efforts into that instead. A week later, I go back to that first thing and think of something new. However, by that time, I’ve probably doubled the time it will take to complete either of those things. Now we multiply that initial extension by several vague ideas and I figure I’ll have at least one of them completed by the time I’m 65 (if I’m lucky).

It’s important to me as well that I point out here (and I’m sure I’ve said something like this before) that I am by no means bragging. I have some (what I consider to be) cool ideas but the point is less ‘Look how many cool ideas I have’ and more ‘Look at how many things I can manage not to finish at the same time’. You can’t be prolific if you never finish anything. But I’ve also realised that changing this behaviour isn’t really an option. I will always work this way and things will just have to take me longer (unless I’m working on a paid brief, in which case I’ll damn well learn how to focus properly).

Until then, I will simply continue to spin a bunch of plates at once and hope that someone, somewhere eventually cries out for my gender-swapped series reboot (fingers crossed).

Rejection Is Hard

Rejection Is Hard

So I’m trying to be a writer… I think I’ve made that pretty obvious from the start. The one thing that I expected all the way through is that the road would not be easy. How can it be easy to create something out of nothing and have everyone like it? But that’s the goal of a writer; to draw out some fiction from the darkest depths of your brain, put it on a page and then gain the appreciation of others on the way to success. The process itself is mysterious and complex. How could success follow it that easily?

I’ve been turned down for a lot of things in my time; relationships, jobs, credit cards, etc. It’s fair to say that all of these rejections have taken me down different paths which have led me to where I am now (which is to say in a good job with a great fiancé and minimal debt). These negatives have in fact been positives, if you look at them with the benefit of age and experience. Any changes back then would have resulted in a very different me of today (I’ve covered life-altering significance before too). In short, I’m a better person now because of what would have been considered negatives in the past.

But back on the topic of being a writer… Rejection of my writing has been the toughest of all to bear. You might say that because of my earlier life experiences this could work out in my favour, but I know that I still want to write and will for the years to come. There won’t be any “remember back when I wanted to be a writer?!” anecdotes from Future Dave. So these knockbacks have been harder to reconcile myself with. The toughest part of all is when they look like this:

This feedback was for the same sitcom pilot. The first response came from an agent and at least it had some nice comments. The second response, this time from a major television network, took three months to receive and it couldn’t have been more generic. Now this isn’t a sob story. I’m not asking anybody to weep for me because I know that there are a lot of people out there putting in just as much work as I am (more, in fact, if I’m honest about it). I’m just highlighting that rejections like this cause me to doubt myself. I don’t always take feedback as well as I should (it is something I’m working on personally and professionally, I assure you). But it’s something that you just have to work through. Nobody goes through life and just gets whatever they want first time (well if they do, I’ve never met them). The world is full of stories of now legendary writers whom we could not live without being rejected time and again before finding success. It happens to the best, and it also happens to me.

There is a lesson here that is valid for me and many others out there, I’m sure, regardless of which discipline within which you aim to succeed. Obstacles will always be in between you and what you want to achieve. How you deal with those obstacles is what defines you. You have to not let them stop you in the drive for what you want. The feedback I’ve gotten so far is not enough for me to make sweeping changes to what or how I write. What it has told me is that I can be better. What I write can be more engaging, more creative, more gripping than it is right now. If I can take the vague concept of “make it better” and run with it, I will have content that takes hold of people and eventually someone will have no choice but to pass it down the line to someone who can make a simple decision that will have life-changing significance for me.

Someone once told me that you have to keep doing the work. It’s as simple as that. So that’s what I’m going to do and it’s what I’d urge everyone out there to do as well. Keep working at whatever it is until you’re good enough that people can’t afford to say no any longer.

That’s how you make it. Or at least it’s how I intend to make it. You know, eventually…

Let’s Get Physical

Let’s Get Physical

I am not a particularly fit person. I’ve got love handles and an ever-so-slight hint of man-boob if I lean forward. So what am I going to do about it? I suppose that I could eat a calorie-controlled diet. Or I could just eat smaller portions of the terrible things that I do eat. No, I won’t stick to that. Maybe I could simply eat less cheese… Now we’re just talking crazy.

I decided instead that I would start going to the gym. This isn’t the first time that I’ve made that decision. On a few different occasions I have enrolled at gyms all over the city. A few visits later, I’m desperate for an escape route and my membership just mysteriously lapses. Now the situation is slightly different. I have a number of friends who are avid gym-goers and who are in great shape. I can get advice and ideas on what to do to get the most out of it. Seemed like a great idea as it will help me to stay on target. I signed up and went along for my first session a few days ago. To say it was an eye-opener would be an understatement.

I arrived at around 7pm on a weekday. I knew immediately that this was a mistake by the queue that snaked from the check-in counter to the entrance. So this was the post-work-workout crowd that I’d heard so much about. I figured that the gym was new and big enough to accommodate us all easily enough and to an extent that was true. The person at the check-in desk looked at me blankly when I quickly explained that it was my first visit. She didn’t care. She’d probably heard hundreds of people make the same statement that week and I was just another newbie. Fair enough.

I quickly changed (the changing room was spacious and fresh-smelling; an obvious giveaway that the place was still new) and made my way into the gym proper. At that moment, my heart sank. The place was full of people, but not like I expected. The place had been open for a matter of days. I assumed there would be a lot of people just like me; using a new facility as a fresh start to make a positive change. Instead, the place was filled with incredibly fit and athletic people. The treadmills were being run by trim folks in technical clothing, training for their next 10k or marathon. The weight machines were all in use by people with muscles bulging to escape their vest tops. I looked around the room and saw about a hundred people, the breakdown of which was as follows:

10%: Too thin to be working out (worryingly so), but really pushing it anyway.
10%: Abnormally large and muscular men who need to step away from the creatine and protein powder.
60%: Great shape, probably maintained by regular gym sessions. These are the ‘beautiful people’ of stories.
19%: People who are average builds, kind of like me, in varying levels of fitness and red-facedness.
1%: Really big people who are trying to make a serious change.

I walked in and I didn’t know what I was doing but everyone else seemed to totally get it. It’s hard to focus in that kind of environment. Desperate not to look like a complete newbie (despite the fact that I totally am) meant that I just kind of figured it out as I went along. I didn’t ask for help. I didn’t look around. I was terrified that someone would spot me and exclaim “he doesn’t know how to lift!” and I would be chased into the street. That initial shock lasted throughout my first visit which I ended a little prematurely as I just didn’t know what to do next. Visit number two would prove to be far better, but at that moment in the changing rooms, I didn’t know if there would be a second visit.

As I walked out into the evening air (workout stink still heavy upon me) I took a moment to consider those with other body types. I’m not exactly under consideration for the cast list of Magic Mike 3 (which I’m assuming someone will green light soon enough) but my build is relatively average. Yet the worry and anxiety I felt as I stepped into that Hall of Muscles must have been insignificant next to that of those with larger body types. People on chat shows and the covers of tabloids question why bigger people don’t ‘put the effort in’ and get to a gym to improve their quality of life. That anxiety, worry and embarrassment must be exponentially greater for those who live with self-esteem issues. I’m average and yet I genuinely considered not going back. Imagine walking into that lions’ den without any confidence in yourself. Could you see yourself voluntarily putting yourself through that?

But then I realised something important that I initially overlooked. Other people in a gym don’t care about you. They’re there fighting their own personal battles. They don’t care if you have love handles. They don’t care if you have man-boobs. They care about bettering themselves and that is all that any person should worry about in a place such as that.

It is on that very important fact, self-improvement, which I shall be focussing today during my third visit. This morning and every visit after that. At least until I get the call for Magic Mike 3.

Irons in the Fire

Irons in the Fire

I’m in a very weird position at the moment, creatively speaking. I have a lot of things to work on, but I’m nowhere near finishing any of them. Hell, some I’ve barely even started putting together. There is a part of me that likes to have all of this exciting stuff to do. It makes me seem busy and productive, but I think that it really leaves me feeling massively incomplete. Even now I’m writing this blog knowing that I have at least three or four stories that require my attention (at least a couple of them are pretty good ideas too, if I do say so myself). Then again, procrastination is my forté. This is also not really a new thing for me, so you’d think I’d be used to it by now.

But why do I let it continue when I can openly acknowledge that the problem is there? What is the best way to deal with it? IS there even a best way to deal with it?

I keep trying to visualise where I could be in a few years time if I completed all of these works; a few feature films and a couple of television series. The possibilities are vast and wide-ranging and yet I do not let them inform or direct my efforts. This must be some form of madness; to sit with ideas sprawled out before you and yet being able to do LITERALLY any other unimportant thing instead. Eating seems to be a particularly popular distraction (which obviously then leads to unhappiness with my own body, but that’s another matter entirely). The other downside to the visualisation technique is that it gets me down when I consider what I am not achieving. It’s amazing and uplifting thinking about where you could be with your work until you suddenly realise exactly where you actually are. This in turn puts a bit of a creative block in my brain because, unlike some of the great writers that used depression and sadness as a muse, I find it very difficult to write from a position of negativity. So I get down about not writing, thus leading to a period where I’m not able to write which in turn gets me down about it… You get the idea.

I wonder if I’m alone in this. I think of the prolific writers of books, TV and film whose output is unmatched and I wonder whether they just have a way of working through negative mindsets. They must have.

The biggest piece of advice that I keep failing to listen to is simply “just write the words”. It’s as simple as that. I just need to write the words. I occassionally have an idea for a character or scene and think to myself how good that particualr nugget would be in a story of mine. I then promptly fail to do anything with it. This is a recurring thing, and that makes it damned upsetting.

The answer is a simple one. I simply need to find a way to fix this behaviour and become an overnight beacon of extraordinary success.

That, or I could just focus on getting some things done.