Friday, April 30, 2010

The Song of Lunch ... and moving on

One fun piece of news. On taking over the Chair of Creative Writing at Hull, I met with my predecessor Christopher Reid over lunch at the Holly Bush in Hampstead. To come up to speed. I'd just read The Song of Lunch.
It's a terrific poem, full of wry good humour, about a wastrel editor in his fifties heading to a favourite restaurant in Soho for lunch with an old flame.
'Do you realize you've written a film?' I asked him, 'Complete with scenes, set description and dialogue?'
The idea amused him ... and he was happy enough for me to run free with the idea.
Pitch film ideas in the UK right now and a lament on the dire state of the industry bounces back in response. Still, when Christopher won the Costa I sensed a fresh opportunity. I suggested the film idea to my friend Greg Wise (this link's from when we met), who runs Masson Productions, tying it into the possibility that it could be aired on National Poetry Day. I wrote the poem up as a screenplay, Greg took it to the BBC ... and lo, it is now set to be the BBC's fastest ever project from commission to film, to be filmed this summer and shown on BBC2 in October. Alan Rickman is set to play the editor, and Emma Thompson the old flame just in from Paris.

Emma's coming up to Hull next month, for a Philip Larkin Centre event with a difference. This is the first in our annual Children's Writing Series. I'm used to meticulous planning for these events, loads of reading and assembling my lists of possible questions. For this occasion I'm letting go. Two kids, Jack and Amelia, who got good practice in front of TV cameras when telling the stories of the recent flooding that swept children out of school and home, will be hosting, and questions coming from children and not myself. A could of buses are bringing children in to the Odeon this afternoon, for a special showing of Nanny McPhee so they can get their questions together.

Yesterday my new novel Play Bach sailed through the ether to an agent's ebook. Eleven years in the writing, I'm dead proud of it. And somewhat relieved to have my head free for a time from the Holocaust studies that provide its backdrop (though the novel is set in Big Sur in 1994). I'll run with a lighter subject for a while now.

All life is up for change. In London, we've just switched homes from West Hampstead to Clapton, an apartment by the River Lea. It's good to have the marshland to walk around, a surprisingly rural aspect to inner London. This weekend sees another move, to an apartment on the edge of campus in Hull.

And still one more move is on its way ... this blog's. Blogger has been its generous host till now. It's about to stop the type of service I've been using, in which the blog is hosted on my own server, wanting me instead to transfer all material to what is essentially Google. I don't choose to. So as of May 1st, this blog will stay as it is, sealed in its present condition, and will emerge in some sparkly new form linked from my website, Please continue our journey together and visit me there.


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