Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Stalking another man when youre only helping a mate #BritishDadStuff

You know that you are a Great British Dad...
...when your only night out ends in total embarrasssment.

I went to an animation industry shindig a few months ago.
I find them difficult because, you know, that whole introvert thing

...and this is even among a bunch of already introverted animation types - who feel comfortable creating worlds, that they control, page by page, frame by frame, with their heads.

But my friend was there who I'd worked with years ago at Disney, so it was great - nice drink, nice chat - I wasn't going to die.

We weren't sure who the organiser was - it felt rude to not at least say hi - but neither of us wanted to make an arse of ourselves, no knowing who'd set up this night.

I was pretty sure I knew the guy and pointed him out.

My friend wasn't so sure, and I can't remember who said "we should look him up."

A quick Google showed we'd got the right guy - look, those pictures are definitely him.

Fast forward an hour - and a few drinks - and even more awkward conversations later - this is why cartoons take so long to make - this is fun. And some Director introduces me to the Organiser.

Without trying, we're having a great chat about stuff that isn't even shop-talk.

I hate pulling out my phone in the middle of a chat: It's a crutch and it's a form of hiding. Like the talking isn't enough.

But there was a clip that he really wanted to see, and it would take seconds to show.

I fired up my phone and there it was.

A screen full of pictures of him.

A little electronic LED backlit shrine to every image of him on the Internet.

(it was sort of like this picture, but all about him).

It felt rude to swipe it off, which sort of made it weirder.

His involuntary flinch launched an awkward pause.
A really long one, as we stared at this screen.
Full of his face.
My awkwardness and the booze doubled it.

Deadpan he broke the tension with something like "ooh, there I am".
Or something.

I can't remember.
I don't want to remember.

The next few minutes rushed past my eyes as squashed as the credits of the cartoons we all work on.

Funny how I can explain now how helping a mate avoid being awkward set me up for cyberstalking the guy to his face.
That takes some effort and a lot of thought.

My complete guide to Understanding Your British Dad is coming together here

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Rubber bands rechargeable batteries and socks. Its all I need. #BritishDadStuff

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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Rubber bands rechargeable batteries and socks. Its all I need. #BritishDadStuff

You know you're a Great British Dad...
...when you've only got 3 things to do the job.

Turns out I can't be a Dad without these 3 things.
Rubber bands, rechargeable batteries and socks.

Rubber Bands
Our postman is so thoughtless. He doesn't dump his rubber bands on our doorstep, path or street.

So we've got to buy them, from the Pound Shop, like a chump.

Before we bought a big bag of bands - our barren band times - life was chaos.

We wrap so much food in elastic bands, that we'll need bigger ones for our stomachs.

Rechargeable Batteries

This is my battery charger.
The technical make of it is that it's a big-ass one.

I found it in the loft and it changed my life.
Because it means I don't get lumbered with the "Dead Battery Jar".

I need a Dead Battery Jar, because before the Dead Battery Jar our dead batteries were evenly distributed around the house.

My life is spent charging up stuff.

Which is the time I spend between filling up the water in the water filter jug.

Laptops, phones, toothbrushes (toothbrushes?), and my spare battery charger.

At night, my room looks like Sniper Alley.

Or the Blue Peter Totaliser round November.

It's like that way that vegetarians really feel about our meat-eating.

They never say it, but I know how they really feel about my eating meat:
that, that right there, is how I feel about everyone who uses normal batteries.
Is that conceited?
Anyone who doesn't recharge batteries is a monster.
I look down on you.


In my house, socks are used like slippers.

And hiking boots and gardening wellies.

And unlike the rule for pants:
"If the junk is showing, it's time for throwing"

the rule is the slightly less snappy:
"If you can push through more than one toe, maybe it's now time to throw"

Please, do, share with me your thing that gets you through your day though.

My complete guide to Understanding Your British Dad is coming together here

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Do you share your passwords with your wife? #BritishDadStuff

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Monday, 23 May 2016

Do you share your passwords with your wife? #BritishDadStuff

You know you are a Great British Dad...
...when you keep at least one password from your other half.

I don't know my wife's passwords and she doesn't know mine.
And we're both really comfortable with that.
It's not a boundary that either wants to go over.

We're at that stage where we've done so much over all sorts of bathroom boundaries - this is probably one final last bit of space for each other.

But then if something happened to me - suddenly - what would happen to all those electronic places?
Maybe they should die with me - never logged into again.

Can you put passwords in a will?

Or pass on the keys to your electronic junk?

We've got a joint password to keep the kids out of stuff.

It's on the tablet, several computers and the Freeview box.

But like the cereal packets, TV, fridge and my phone... our kids will crack it one day.

One day we'll slip - a moment of weakness - they'll see the digits and crack out all the electronicness we've kept from them.

There should be a ceremony for it - like a Bar Mitzvah.

I'm clearing out the computer and found this - wrote it 10 years ago - what if married couples handed over their passwords as part of their ceremony. (For "It's That Jo Caulfield Again" on Radio 4...)

I thought all the references in it would now be broken and dated, but weirdly looks like more puns than I thought might've survived.

I doubt I will ever get this many puns into one minute ever again.



Dearly beloved, we are gathered gathered here today, in the sight of God, to witness the passing of the password from Stuart to Josephine.

If anyone knows of any legal impediment to Josephine accessing the internet... please email now, or forever hold your I.S.P's.
Who is to give this password to his wife?

That's me. I do.

Stuart - will you take "Crazylegs3" as your password?
To download, Google... and E-bay.
To send and receive, in sickness and in health.
For as long as you are both online?



And Josephine, you are now entering an unsecured site.
Do you wish to continue?

I, Josephine Immaculata Caulfield, do take "Crazylegs3" to be my password.
To have and to... sometimes forget.
From this day forward, to bookmark and to add to favourites... for as long as we both login.

Could I now Ask Jeeves to bring forward the mouse please.

Stuart and Josephine - In the sight of the webmaster, and the furry gonk that personalises the top of the monitor, I now pronounce you LAN and Wi-fi client.
You may now exchange viruses.

From It's That Jo Caulfield Again, Radio 4, 2006
(also featuring Simon Greenall as the priest, and produced by Chris Neill)

My complete guide to Understanding Your British Dad is coming together here

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My second biggest fear of writing comedy... #Scriptchat

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Sunday, 22 May 2016

My second biggest fear of writing comedy... #Scriptchat

I want to use a husband wanting a wife's password as a story idea for a sitcom.

But it feels so good - that there's something in there with loads to explore - that I don't even want to mention it, in case it gets mentioned or worse used and done better somewhere else.
(if it hasn't already).

What it other art forms did that?

"I'm not going to paint that picture because someone might nick the idea and paint the same thing."
"I've got an idea for some glass I'm going to blow. But I'll hold back or just tell some close friends about it, in case it gets blown the same way by someone else - or worse - get lifted by some massive glass manufacturing company."

When David Croft had the idea for 'Allo 'Allo in his hands, that I'm sure I read in his dark autobiography "You Have Been Watching" that he thought it was so brilliant and likely to happen somewhere else, that he urged the Head of Comedy to make it as quickly as possible before ITV came up with the something similar.

I love that sense of urgency, because it's batshit insane.

Even before the negative checking that you're not doing it yourself.

The other funny thing with comedy writing is that despite having your antennae up for nickers - you know the obvious deep down - that best stuff is always the stuff that only you can tell.

God forbid that you and only you came up with those two things to put together, or that reversal, or exaggeration or sarcasm that absolutely no-one else has thunk up (or tweeted or status updated) before.

Because there's no way that anyone could've ever actually gone along the exact same train of thought before in the history of human thought.

Is what you think.

Even though you know there's the stuff that only you can tell, or have a context that only you can set up.

It's untellable-by-someone-else-to-have-the-same-impact.
It's not nickable.
It's unnickable.
That's the good stuff.

And maybe that's the only stuff worth going for, and the irony - nature's cruelty - is that you need to put as much of that kind of stuff out as freely as possible to get to come up with more of it.

On the upside, my glass blowing is a bunch of arse.

Five more ways to bust writers block & procrastination, and other stories

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More things said by writers for my big list of thing that writers writ #amwriting #amwritingaboutwriting #thatdoesntcountreally

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Friday, 20 May 2016

More things said by writers for my big list of thing that writers writ #amwriting #amwritingaboutwriting #thatdoesntcountreally

Time to type up some more quotes from the ones I've scrawled in the back of my notebook, with a photo of a double-rainbow from out the back window to make it look all inspirational.

"What have we got?
Let's look at what we've already got"
-- third hand from Marta Kauffman, she might not have even said these actual words but it helps

"That's what an artist does, channel that revelation,
create something out of it, capture that moment."
-- Bob Lefsetz

"Because that's how an artist goes on, by creating.
Doing it whether anybody pays attention or not."
-- Bob Lefsetz

"If I had known how fast it goes
I would have shown you every day."
-- Wendy Waldman

"How do I know what I think,
until I see what I say?"
-- E.M. Forster

Added them to my How to write stuff page here

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Why Feed Your Family is For A Fiver #BritishDadStuff

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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Why Feed Your Family is For A Fiver #BritishDadStuff

You know you're a Great British Dad...
...when you think a little too hard about what a pound is worth.

Something really nice happened the other day.
So nice that I could see clear as day something not nice happening before my very eyes and I'm glad I didn't call it out.

I left my headphones on the train. I'm glued to these - years on my ears.
But they're so precious to me - so much a part of my day... that I left them on the train.
Like it's my sofa.

And you know how that feels - through the seven stages of losing your stuff: feeling dumb, anger at yourself, denial, bit of panic, and then acceptance.

It didn't feel good window shopping online for another pair - because it'll be exactly the same make and same colour teal.

Just at the very moment I'm about to hit "Buy now" - I get the email - the one that makes you want to kiss the screen - they've found my headphones and they're ready for collection, from the Lost Property Office.

I'm on a high.

Because I'm getting my stuff back - but also the chain of nice behind this email: someone got the item to a member of staff, who handed it to someone else who sent it all the way from wherever it was to the Lost Property Office in London, where it was indexed and filed and matched with the details I'd sent in online, and finally the time taken to get in touch with me.

And I'm on this high not even thinking through that chain of kindness in this grotty room, under the arches, that smells like bins - because that's where all the waste from this major station is put out.

It's a sign from the Universe that it still wants me in this game.

And I'm waiting behind a woman getting her thing back, and I'm noticing this dance where the items are handed back by an arm reaching round and holding it out of a door to the side.

The grateful woman takes it and tries to make small talk and [CLUNK!]
The door just slams shut.
And the room is empty again.

I'm thinking this place is really secure.

It's got a counter, with those security glass windows that you got in the 1970's.

So I ring the bell to let someone know I'm here.

I'm still on a high - giddy that I might get my nice headphones back.

I try making small talk with the guy who appears behind the glass - I'm curious - if I write my name or contact details on the thing - would they get in touch with me without me filling in a form? Or shouldn't I bother?

It's a dumb question - but I'm interested in how this guy's day works.

He shuts it down with a few words, and then I start to feel like a berk in a nice coat with a nice bag who's left his nice headphones lying around for everyone else to pick up.

And there's still no eye contact.

"Two quid"
I push through a £5 note.
He pushes back a 1970's clipboard where I sign on the form for the £2.
I push that back under the gap in the glass,
and he pushes back the change:

Just two pound coins.

And I'm looking at the coins [CLUNK!] and the arm is there stretched round the door holding my precious headphones. With the cord all skilfully coiled up.

I've been short-changed and there's the disembodied hand with my stuff waiting for me to take it and go. What are you going to do?

I took the headphones [CLUNK!]

The office was empty again.

I got my stuff back!
What happened there.
I'm in awe - it was such a beautiful dance, drilled, honed, practised and perfected over years.

All that effort.

For just a quid.

And without looking me in the eye, he helped me tip him for his diligent, thankless, kind work, round by the bins.

So why am I thinking about this pound and the dance?
What is that lizard thing in my brain that says "not good".

Did I just get disrespected?
So what.

Did I just lose a quid?
I just got my headphones back.

I'll spend 3 of them on a coffee.

By the way - why is overpriced coffee the way we measure things now?

Like "Feed Your Family For A Fiver".

How come "a Fiver" became the rock bottom standard for how well you're providing for your family?

Because some dead-eyed meeting got some ad agency some money by telling us that blowing more money in the supermarket is good for us.

I mean, I love my family - so why is that used against me?

That a Fiver - a Fiver - must be spent to keep them alive.

(By the way, it sticks in our brains because "Feeding your family" is Sacred, and "a Fiver" is Profane - it's Sacred and Profane).

I think I felt sad and guilty that the guy had to do that to get through the day.

He's just doing what maybe some companies do on a grander scale.
Getting an extra quid or two out of a situation.

And why not.
I'm good.
I've got my nice jacket, my nice bag, and my really nice headphones.

My complete guide to Understanding Your British Dad will come together here

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Men don't take my wife's secret superpower seriously, because it's a secret. #BritishDadStuff

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Men don't take my wife's secret superpower seriously, because it's a secret. #BritishDadStuff

You know you are a Great British Dad...
...when the world completely ignores the Mum's life before when she was a Mum.

This is really funny when it comes up really randomly.

My wife has a secret superpower.

And it's so secret that Men in the world don't realise how awesome it is.

Men don't realise, when they are talking to her about bathrooms, and even more specifically showers, that she is a total expert on how they work.

She is one of the few people who worked at one of the biggest shower companies in the world, on the technical helpline for fitters and plumbers.

And what's weirder is - it turns out bathrooms come up much more in conversations than you'd think.
Really often.
And it's always men, holding court on water pressures and sealant, with no idea whatsoever that my Wife is really really quiet about knowing her stuff.

It's really funny seeing them never be curious when she asks a really technical followup question.

...and completely fail to pick up on her expertise.

They just bang on some more about their bathroom problem and totally ignore the solution... that she's just said to them... out loud. And I'm thinking, Duuude. Take the hint. There is a clue in there - for your benefit - that it's very probably worn bearings in the pump. That you've just been told about. Twice.

I now realise this is a story that's less about how brilliant my Wife is and probably a little bit more about how dumb men are.


My free guide to Understanding Your British Dad is here

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What if I weren't a Dad. I'd make a terrible cult leader. #BritishDadStuff

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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

What if I weren't a Dad. I'd make a terrible cult leader. #BritishDadStuff

You know that you are a Great British Dad...
...when you think about what you would be doing instead, if you weren't a Dad.

What if I weren't a Dad?

I'd make a terrible cult leader.

I'd give it a go though.

Sure, the orgies and berry gathering would go great.

Gathering berries and orgies.

They'd be covered.

That's a given.

I could even probably find somehow a way of combining the two.

But after that - I don't think I'd have much beyond the orgies and the gathering berries.

They'd be all whiny after, like, a week.

They'd moan: "I've got a sore bum!"

From their limited diet of all those berries.

My almost complete guide to Understanding Your British Dad is here

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The closing theme from MONKEY cant get it out of my head - its #35 in my top 100 FAVE TV MOMENTS

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Monday, 16 May 2016

The closing theme from MONKEY cant get it out of my head - its #35 in my top 100 FAVE TV MOMENTS

It's another one of my top 100 fave TV moments- but again it's about some music that jammed in my head.

For years I've been humming this tune and couldn't place where it was from.

Like the closing theme from Crown Court - you don't get it because it's tucked away in the closing credits.

(back when credits lasted a minute and a half...)

Then I remembered...

It's the closing theme from MONKEY - that weird show that was on BBC2 around tea-time in the late seventies, and just before "Maggie" - the dour BBC Scotland drama with it's own earworm title music. (won't link to it now - I'll do a proper post for it...)

Everyone who saw it remembers the opening titles to Monkey.


But that closing music - it just lodged in my brain.

I guarantee you'll be sick of it by the end of this post.

Not me.

Here's how the closing titles looked and sounded like originally on TV in Japan.


I've played it so many times, my 5 year old girl now knows it word for word.

And in the years to come, it'll almost certainly bug her where it came from...

What's beautiful about looking this up on YouTube, is seeing the band slowly age as they play it over the decades...

Here they are all funky and bright in the 1970's when the song was born... (maybe)

Here they are in the 1980's...

And the 1990's (1994, I think)...

And finally 2013...

I think my favourite version is this one (in English, with a harp) from 2006...

There's something cathartic about seeing a band age while they play the same song over 40 years.

Somehow it feels right for this tune too...

Sing along now...!

A long time ago when men were all babes,
There was a land of the free

Fantasy and dreams, were its untouched wealth,
And goodness and love were real.

Each man desires to reach Gandhara, his very own utopia,
In the striving, in the seeking soul,
Man can see Gandhara...

In Gandhara, Gandhara, They say it was in India
Gandhara, Gandhara, The place of light Gandhara

Though long ago and far, Beyond the winding road,
Always beyond every bend,

A beautiful land still waits for the few,
Who make it to the very end.

Each man desires to reach Gandhara, his very own utopia,
In the striving, in the seeking soul,
Man can see Gandhara

In Gandhara, Gandhara, They say it was in India
Gandhara, Gandhara, The place of light Gandhara

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"You're missing the point!" and the laziest comment on the Internet

My full Top 100 TV list is coming together here...

And here are the last few...

#26 Late Night with David Letterman

#27 Chopper Squad

#28 CHiPs

#29 The BBC Grandstand Fight

#30 Rainbow

#31 The Theme From Juliet Bravo

#32 Any and every James Hunt documentary...

#33 Foreign language sketch shows

#34 How to empty your house of stuff in 3 months and 2 minutes - NBC Today Marie Kondo package

In Gandara, Gandara, Get these posts daily by email. Gandara, Gandara, thanks for subscribing, helps me keep this going...