The Remains of the Day

It seemed something of an irony that I spent the first day of the new year achieving nothing and eating leftovers. It is for precisely this reason that I make it a point to not make New Year’s resolutions.

The one thing I did in 2016 was to make it a resolution to write something everyday, and with a bit of luck I will make it through to the anniversary of that and complete the year’s work. I started this blog on the 12th of January and will finish it (in its current form) on the 11th. I have written a load more fiction that I had intended – and definitely a load more than I would have written had I not been doing the blog. I have also found writing in general a lot more easy – it really is a muscle that improves with training and although my business writing may have actuallly suffered as a result, the rest of it is ticking along nicely.

I have a number of ideas on the scratch pad I keep, which I can still work through and develop, and the best idea would probably be to get these finished and up in the next ten days, but creative writing always takes at least twice as long when you have an idea, and even longer if you are trying to work it up.

When my family come around to our house for the annual festive lunch, there is always a lot of food, which requires a load of digestion afterwards. We tend to grab something nostalgic from the DVD pile – because as anyone who has made the mistake of putting the puppet comedy, Team America on while their parents are in the room will testify, a G or PG rating is what you want. This year, it was The Two Ronnies, which seemed appropriate given that Ronnie Corbett was one of the many celebrities that 2016 claimed. There were a number of regular features of the show, but one of them was a running crime detective series about two hapless detectives.

The summer holidays seem endless when you are school-age and one of my brothers and I would occasionally fill the weeks by creating ‘comedy’ tapes or writing sketches. One of our plays, which definitely was influenced by The Two Ronnies, was our masterpiece: Death Can be Fatal.

Somehow, I still have a copy of this chef d’oeuvre from the 1970s and I found it today. It is typed on A4 lined paper and covers five pages. Occasionally, the typeface becomes red as my impatient fingers hit the wrong buttons and rammed the keys through the red section of the physical ribbon. One piece of paper is literally cut and pasted in. That’s how we rolled in the ’70s.

We have a cast list at the front and stage directions. It is both remarkably crude and highly sophisticated. When I watched the movie Sing Street, I have to admit I was a little suspicious of the level of work the boys did to shoot their videos but actually we did go into enormous detail for these projects – it was part of the entertainment, plus there was less TV in those days, we had to make our own fun.

My brother borrowed my copy if Noel Coward’s Diaries yesterday. ‘Put it down!’ I advised, ‘I have found the play!’ And I sent him photos of the pages.

Most of the time, I try to look forward not back, We have a new, tiny member of our family and we are at the start of a new year, but today it was fun to dig through boxes and find a fragile call back to our lives so many years ago, while eating leftovers from last year as I prepared for the new one. Goodness knows what technology will be available to my little nephew if he decides to write, direct and produce his own TV crime drama, but he will not need it, just the gift of imagination and the motivation to use it.

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