Monday, 29 February 2016

Draw all over your paperwork. Its the best way to get a refund out of South West Trains and other UK monopolies. #BritishDadStuff



"This is how to get a refund from South West Trains. (Full video here)
It's taken a lot of practice to get to this point.

Play this video:


The link to the full breakdown of how to get compensation from South West Trains is here...

The problem I've got, is that like lots of companies I have to deal with, as a Dad, in the UK...
They're either in a monopoly (like water and trains) or a cartel of 3 or 4 (like gas, electricity, mobile phones, broadband/Pay TV/landlines).
I can't take my business elsewhere.

So when the trains stop running, they never give me a refund.
They don't do the thing I've paid them for - and it's not my fault.
South West Trains gets a refund from Network Rail, but then they reject my refund.
And I've had enough of my refunds being rejected.
So I had to come up with something to try harder to get my refund.
Because I need the money. And they've not done the one thing they're meant to do.

But after every refund application form getting rejected, I am now a refund ninja.

I think I've cracked the code.



So this is my refund form, for South West Trains.

And what I've done to try and get a refund this time is to try and cheer them up.



I did ask my son to draw a picture too, but he just wrote "POO" all over it.
But I've turned that "POO" into a nice bunch of flowers instead.
And added an optimistic message: "Spring is nearly here"



And then on the envelope, I've drawn a picture to try and cheer them up.
(I would have put "Home" and "Not Home" - but that would've been a bit arch).

So I'd hoped with the "poo" covered up... flowers... and "hello"... and kind message, that it would avoid getting my refund application rejected.
I still needed to get some expensive postage, because they make you use stamps.

They say you can scan it and email it.
But then they won't have the ticket - I advice against that in my six tips.
I wrote "Neee - Nawww" on it which I think clutters the train effect, but it's too late.
And I didn't want to tippex it.



Over a month later, I got this! Two page letter! Explaining everything and, even better, some "RAIL TRAVEL" vouchers to pay for half of that day's journey.
Obviously I've now got to try and not lose the vouchers, and remember to spend them.
And I can only do that at a ticket office that's open.
But, I think the lesson from this is "draw all over your paperwork".

Colour it in.
Use pictures.
It helps.
And if you want more amazing tips like this, why not subscribe to my youtube channel. (link here)

But good luck with your drawing.
I hope it earns you as much money as it's now going to earn me.



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I've been doing my Morning Pages all wrong. For six years. #ScriptChat


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Sunday, 28 February 2016

I've been doing my Morning Pages all wrong. For six years. #ScriptChat



Following on from yesterday's post about The Artists Way by Julia Cameron...
I had been doing morning pages since around 2009. I was a speaker at a conference, and one of the other speakers told me about them on the train home. The idea sounded awesome! But, I'm really embarrassed that after a month I started doing them all wrong.

I thought: "I'm a fast typist - this is great!
I'll type my daily pages (that's what I called them) and that action will help me get started with typing for the rest of the day - like a muscle-memory thing."
And so I did.
For 6 years.

I get stuff out - I write what I need to during the day - but it was never enough. And it wasn't getting to what I knew I could get to. Which is why Brian Koppelman's repeated phrase: "When you're blocked, you're toxic" chimed every time I heard it.

So I finally went to the source and after week one - a torrent came out.

I thought - this is predictable... I've got a shiny new thing that'll fizzle out after the holidays.
It didn't.
Why? What happened?

It's dumb and it's probably just me - but it's the handwriting.
The trouble with typing the Morning Pages - for me - was that because I type so fast, I get a thought out, and then stare into mid-space for 20 minutes having a think about something else.

Thinking - daydreaming - conversing in my head - without writing it down.
Typing made it too efficient.
I thought I was freewriting, but a 1000 word sheet of 10pt typing is the same word count, but nothing like filling 3 pages with scrawl.

Maybe it's the novelty of writing after typing so long... but I don't think so.

My brain works differently.
Typing is too official form of capture.
While typing, I knew this document could be saved and searched in the future, like some kind of diary.

The Pages have to be disposible, to be freewriting. Here's the ironic twist. If I do hit on something good - like this - I underline the bits I want to keep, and type them up later.

But this bled into the rest of the day - I could now scrawl out ideas and type them up later - separating writing from typing - when I type I can have edit-head on (which is my default place - I'd edit anything I've got down to nothing, if I could).
Six years it took me to figure this out!

The handwritten freewriting is generating 10x more than typing. Because I know they are disposable, I come up with way more stuff that I want to keep.

If you've made it this far into the post, there's so much more I want to tell you - like it's lead to stripping away the nice (Uniball 1.0mm gel impact) pen to black clear barrel Bic biros... Filling pages in my notebook in a continuous linear way (instead of different sections for "to do lists", "script", "work" and "raw ideas"). It's all a continuous stream now - new handwritten page at a time.

It wouldn't have clicked without "When you're blocked, you're toxic" and the "Morning Pages".

Added this to my page of everything that I know about How to write story.

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Artists Way Quotes... by Julia Cameron #ScriptChat


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Saturday, 27 February 2016

Artists Way Quotes... by Julia Cameron #ScriptChat



I've been doing "Morning Pages" for nearly 9 years, and hadn't yet read the book where the phrase came from.

If you're curious about blurts, and doing "Morning Pages" before anything else, Artists Dates and Affirmations to clear a writing block,
here's a link to the book here.

But just wanted a place online to put my fave quotes from it...

"Just as a recovering alcoholic must avoid the first drink,
the recovering artist must avoid taking the first think..."

"Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out."

"Shame is a controlling device. Shaming someone is an attempt to prevent the person from behaving in a way that embarrasses us."

"When people do not want to see something, they get mad at the one who shows them."

"That is a normal part of creativity - letting go. We always do the best that we can by the light that we have to see by... The success of a creative recovery hinges on our ability to move out of the head and into action."

"Very often a risk is worth taking simply for the sake of taking it... Complete the following sentence. 'If I didn't have to do it perfectly, I would try..."

"Satisfaction of one's curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life."

"Watch yourself for a week and notice the way you will pick up an anxious thought, almost like a joint, to blow off - or at least delay - your next creative action."

"I'm afraid all my ideas are hackneyed and outdated... I'm afraid my ideas are ahead of their time... I'm afraid I'll starve... I'm afraid I'll never finish... I'm afraid I'll never start... I'm afraid I will be embarrassed (I'm already embarrassed)... The list goes on."

"Okay Creative Force, you you take care of the quality, I'll take care of the quantity"

"As an artist, I write whether I think it's any good or not. I shoot movies other people may hate. I sketch bad sketches to say, 'I was in this room. I was happy. It was May and I was meeting somebody I wanted to meet.'As an artist, my self-respect comes from doing the work."

"Creativity is a spiritual practice. It is not something that can be perfected, finished and set aside."

"We are traditionally rather proud of ourselves for having slipped creative work in there between the domestic chores and obligations. I'm not sure we deserve such big A-pluses for that."

"It's not about thinking stuff up.
It's about getting stuff down"



Added this to my How to write story page of everything, here.

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Sacred and Profane- the second video of every profane thing I can think of... #ScriptChat


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Friday, 26 February 2016

Sacred and Profane- the second video of every profane thing I can think of... #ScriptChat

Sacred and Profane is the idea that mixing, combining or juxtaposing two ideas - one from the world of sacred with one that culture decides as profane - will give you an even better, funnier, more compelling, or more dramatic idea.

Each week, I'm going to make a weekly draw of ten new ideas from my piles of sacreds and profanes.

I've got the camera, I'm just waiting for the tripod mount to arrive from China.

So probably, here is my final example of Sacred and Profane I've spotted.

They're everywhere, but I think I've got to get on with generating my own now.



The Good Life

On the surface it looks like...

Civilization (Sacred) disrupted by Farmyard noises and smells (Profane)
Or Being comfortable (Sacred) VS. Being miserly and struggling (Profane)


But the genius of it as an idea for a sitcom (or even drama) series is that maybe, instead, it could be seen as...

The Countryside (Sacred) VS. Surburbia (Profane)

Or

Living off the Land (Sacred) VS. The Rat Race, and Working for The Man (Profane)

Anyway, here is the final list of profanities that have gone into the profane pile.
I should work out Sacred and Profane containers for these.
Maybe a food bowl for the Sacreds, and a potty for the Profanes.
I think I'm definitely going to do that. I hope I remember.
Remind me if I forget.


My list of every profane word I can think of for the Sacred and Profane weekly draw - Part 2





The complete list of sacred and profane words is here

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Grand final slow motion belly wobble - Round 5 of my Great British Dad Gameshow pilot #BritishDadStuff


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Friday, 19 February 2016

Grand final slow motion belly wobble - Round 5 of my Great British Dad Gameshow pilot #BritishDadStuff



This is sad.
In more ways than one.

Time now for the final round of my Great British Dad Gameshow

Round 5: The Grand Final Slow-Motion Belly Wobble

And this will have you on the edge of your seats.

Some real jeopardy, and a good link from the last round, Deadbeat Dad Dirty Dishes.

It's a little disturbing, and the video below is probably Not Safe For Work.

Or home.

The rules are really simple: you've got to deliver the best and most dramatic slow-motion belly wobble.

The fathers flourish their fat and shake their stomachs...
...after which we get the full glory as an instant slow-mo replay
(Maybe with a compelling zoom and dramatic music bed).

There's an art to this round -- you're free to go for a top-down ripple, a side-to-side agitation, or perhaps even a jaunty jiggle.

To win, points are awarded by audience vote...
with sports-channel-style onscreen stats showing wobble length, average speed, contestant height/weight/BMI index
to decide the best and most dramatic wobble.

The strictest rule is that the judges can only accept one jiggle.

"Round" is probably the right word.

Some things cannot be unseen -- here is the pilot I made.



And if you're affected by any of the issues raised in this video, please leave a comment below.

Or a link to your own berth-quake.




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What British Dads do in the house when the wife and kids go away for a few days #BritishDadStuff


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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

What British Dads do in the house when the wife and kids go away for a few days #BritishDadStuff



You know you're a Great British Dad when...

...your Other Half takes the kids away for two days.


There is only one thing on your mind.

You do what all married men with kids do when left alone overnight in the house.

See how cold you can get the place to drop.



Before you put on a hat.

Nearly everything is switched off - where are those 129 watts coming from?!
(16 of the 145w pictured are on the light so I can take the picture).

And it's like the temperature's going up.
What am I doing wrong?

Maybe I'm standing too close to the box that measures the energy that's flying out of the house.



Just went to take a picture... but it's still going up.
Then realised.
THE TIMER SWITCH.

It wasnt the kids - I'm being ruined by my own technology.

It's literally measuring the energy that I am wasting.


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CSI BritishDadStuff - Nerf bullet, through living room paper lantern shade

Monday, 15 February 2016

CSI BritishDadStuff - Nerf bullet, through living room paper lantern shade



You know you're a Great British Dad...
when you perform a crime scene investigation on the living room lampshade.

I honestly can't tell you which of them did this.
My son claims it's a misfire from his younger sister.

Which is a convincing witness statement - her aiming is terrible. Her technique is terrifying, "tote the weapon while throwing your arms in the air Princess-Elsa-style."

But it's a little too convincing.
The trajectory from the stairs to the shade is an arc that matches a sniper style attack from the top of the staircase, maybe using the bannister for stability.



There are two Nerf guns in the house and the second one hasn't been traced.
Which means we could be looking at a serial lampshade killer.
While both suspects walk free.

I blame myself.
They're too damn expensive to give or throw away.
(The guns, not the kids).
I can't even bring myself to re-start that "shooting over the roof" game to bring down the level of ammo in the house.

How many more IKEA things face senseless (but easy) destruction before I can bring Nerf Gun Control into the home?


All my British Dad Stuff is here

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How Seinfeld writes and every profane word I can think of for my Sacred and Profane weekly draw #scriptchat


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Friday, 5 February 2016

How Seinfeld writes and every profane word I can think of for my Sacred and Profane weekly draw #scriptchat



There's a theory that ideas are more powerful (dramatic or funny) when you combine the Sacred and Profane.

Every Friday I add to my lists of Sacred and Profane, and now writing the words out for a weekly random draw to come up with new Sacred and Profane combinations, like...

Jerry Seinfeld's Pop Tarts Routine

Jerry Seinfeld talks about how he writes a routine, but the Pop Tarts one he uses as an example has lots and lots of sacred and profane combinations:

Jerry Seinfeld Interview: How to Write a Joke | The New York Times



as a kid (childhood=sacred) back of head blowing off (disfigurement=profane)

orange juice (sacred) hack at with a knife (profane)

committing a murder before you got on the school bus (sacred and profane)

wrapping your lips (sacred) around a wood-chipper (profane)

chimps (sacred) in the dirt (profane), playing (sacred) with sticks (profane)

I've now written out all my Profanes - it doesn't feel right calling them profanities, because words themselves are Sacred.

Here they are ready for the first draw week after next, I think

My list of every profane word for the Sacred and Profane weekly draw - Part One




Did I miss any profanes? They might be in the part 2 video next week, but it'd be great to be left any in comments here

The complete list of sacred and profane words is here

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My hilarious Energy Performance Certificate man sketch with my wife #BritishDadStuff


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