Uncategorized

Bigger Than Hitler. Better Than Christ

Now, there’s an attention-grabbing title for you. Which is no doubt exactly what Rik Mayall thought when he chose to name his eccentric tome in this very manner. Or perhaps I should address him him as The Rik Mayall, which is how he refers to himself through the text. Even though it is a book all about the life and times of the man himself in his own words, I am loath to describe the book as an autobiography. It is notably short on the things you would normally expect to find in an autobiography – such as dates and facts – and most of it appears to be complete bollocks, but this is rather beside the point. This is full on, unfiltered Rik Mayall!

Rik describes himself endlessly as a giant of light entertainment and a talent of God-like proportions. I happen to agree with him but it is true to say his particular brand of humour is an acquired taste. Those not already enamoured with his work will find little in this book to change their minds. However, for those dedicated followers of The Rik Mayall this is an absolute scream and, I would say, essential reading. For all I know months and months of careful planning and research went into the book but it reads like the manic stream of consciousness of a man convinced of his superiority in every way to the rest of mankind – and convinced that everyone else knows it, too. 

Sorry about the very rude word

It is wildly offensive to absolutely everyone of every gender, race, religion and sexual orientation and unapologetically so. One gets the feeling that if this was written by anyone other than Mayall, no publisher would touch it with a barge pole. But despite the bad language, poor taste and terrible syntax, it is completely devoid of bile or malice of any kind and for all the ranting and random threats, we know that Rik is imploring us to laugh at him, not with him (yes, that way round). And laugh I did, it’s bloody hilarious. At several points I had to actually put the book down and have a proper guffaw, on occasion doubled up with mirth on my bed. 

And it was during one such outburst that I thought to myself – this book really reminds me of something. Obviously such things as Bottom, The Young Ones, Dangerous Brothers, The Comic Strip (for all of which Rik takes complete and sole credit) come to mind but, no – it was something else. Hang on, I thought – random, impassioned stream of consciousness… complete disregard for facts and a linear narrative… unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy… This is rather like Finnegans Wake! Alright, it’s a Finnegans Wake you can actually understand, but the similarities are uncanny, I reckon. So, much like James Joyce, we must assume that Rik was either a raving lunatic or complete genius. In truth, he was probably both.

Unknown

Nicked this picture from Google. Copyright is owned by the BBC and I don’t have permission to use it, which would make Rik proud.

Carefully enveloped in the anarchy and fury is an unusually heartfelt passage referring to the notorious quad bike accident in 1998 that almost claimed his life. As Mayall contemplates his own mortality in surprisingly beautiful prose, I thought a little tear might find its way out of my eye. But, just in the nick of time, normal offence-laden banter is resumed and we are back on the literary rollercoaster before anyone gets too emotional.

I don’t usually talk about books as I prefer writing them to reading them but I couldn’t let this one slip by unmentioned. Whether you believe Rik to be (as he continually professes himself) the most brilliant and original entertainer in the entire history of the world, or the very worst example of humanity, this book will prove you right. What we can all agree upon, however, is that when he burst onto the public stage in the early 80s – wild-eyed and relentlessly anarchic – the world really wasn’t ready for him. But when he died suddenly in 2014, we were nowhere near ready to let him go. I personally cried for three days. Not continually, obviously. On and off. I mean, I still had to go to work and the shops and things.

20170916_160717

I would say rest in peace, but I suspect that rest and peace would be the last things The Rik Mayall would want.

 

Cricket And Other Nonsense

“What are you going to do about your breasts?”

This was the beginning of a brief but earnest discussion between members of my cricket team, regarding the safety of my lady bouncers (top cricketing term) during play. Their concern was touching (not actually touching, you understand) but as this took place in the pub after the match, it was a moot point. Besides, The Girls have come through many a perilous escapade unscathed so I wasn’t too worried about them. Best to let them get on with things on their own, I reckon.

Me bravely seeing off a herd of cows who were after our sandwiches

There really is little more lovely on a Sunday afternoon than a leisurely game of cricket – although you can’t be too worried about actually winning anything if you play for the Rain Men. A nomadic team of eternal optimists, the Rain Men roam the country, offering other cricket teams the unique opportunity to feel better about themselves by giving us a sound thrashing. Two marvellous books written by our brave and fearless leader, Marcus Berkmann, have chronicled the ups and downs (mostly downs) of this illustrious team. Comprised mainly of the eccentric, elderly (they say you can’t beat experience but apparently you can – frequently) and infirm, there are nonetheless a smattering of thrusting athletic types and one or two of them are actually jolly dashing. No doubt fraternisation is frowned upon so I shall restrict my attentions to balls of the leather nature, to be on the safe side.

IMG_4741.jpeg

Cricket is a marvellous game. For a start, there are no rules. There are laws, true enough, but I am naturally averse to rules where as laws I find appealing, so this suits me nicely. Also, it has a whole language all of its own that sounds vaguely rude. Grown men talk about googlies and yell at each other to ‘go deep’ and no one bats an eyelid. I can compliment a bowler on his lovely length and ball handling prowess without a hint of impropriety. The game involves a fair amount of standing about which allows one time to admire the scenery and have a bit of a think about things. Best of all, after a while, someone from the pavilion calls you all in for tea like they are your mum or something. When no one can possibly squeeze in any more tea, cake, sandwiches, sausage rolls, crisps and whatever else, the match resumes – albeit at a slightly slower pace than before the tea, obviously. Some players enjoy a beer or glass of wine during play. No one minds.

IMG_4745.jpeg

This Sunday saw a record-breaking performance from the Rain Men, to which I undoubtedly contributed. It was our lowest scoring match ever, with us all out for 36. Pretty terrible, even by our standards. In a shock twist, the opposition invited me to come and play for them, but this was probably due to the fact that one of them recognised me (fame at last!) as opposed to my sporting credentials. They are an absolutely super bunch who wear natty striped blazers and carry bottles of wine on their bicycles, so I immediately agreed. Besides, I need all the practice I can get, so playing for two teams can only improve my game.

SmartSelect_20180611-094639_Samsung Internet.jpg

Anyway, I promised you other nonsense as well. Aside from roaming pretty English villages in my whites, I have been interviewed by prolific and world-renowned (he’ll love that) writer and editor Dan Alatorre. Of course, with two literary heavyweights such as ourselves at work, the interview was jam-packed with hard-hitting, intellectual cut-and-thrust about the writing world. But there were still a couple of questions with which we may have struggled…

Oh, and there was news about Who Shot Tony Blair? too, but with all the rambling on about cricket I shall have to get back to that next week… do stay tuned!

 

 

Interview With The Writer Review

This won’t be published until September, so I thought there was little harm in sharing it with you lovely people now…

Please provide a brief introduction, including your name, the genre(s) you write in, previous work and where you are based. 

My name is Lucy Brazier and I write light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek mysteries, set in a fictional rendition of my home city of Cambridge, UK. I have worked for all kinds of interesting organisations in the past – including the police and the civil service – but it was my role as the first female Deputy Head Porter at a prestigious Cambridge college that led to me becoming a writer.

Which of your books / pieces of writing are you most proud of, and why?

I’m pretty chuffed with all my work to date. My first self-published novel has a special place in my heart and, although the writing style was at best naive and it was riddled with errors, I am proud of the achievement of getting it out there all on my little ownsome. My best work, I would say, is my latest novel, PorterGirl – Sinister Dexter. The third in the series, I feel I’ve got to grips with the dark art of novel writing and it is something I can feel genuinely proud of as a piece of work.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

The PorterGirl books take me about six months, although a lot of that time is spent endlessly thinking it all through. Then I have a mad eight or nine weeks of bashing it out on my laptop. 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The artistic process isn’t that difficult, it’s all the bits that come after that I struggle with. Marketing, promotion – getting people to actually buy the bloody things is the tricky bit.

What was your hardest scene to write?

There is a scene in Sinister Dexter where the parents of a deceased young man attend the place where his body was found. In a novel that, for the most part, is knockabout humour, capturing the futile and hollow grief of mourning a lost child wasn’t easy.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I don’t read them. It’s easier that way. I read occasional abuse on Twitter, though, and through that I learnt the delightful phrase ‘cock womble’. It is now my go-to term of abuse to use when navigating the North Circular on a Friday afternoon.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I like research and spend extensive periods during the ‘thinking’ time of – ahem – writing the book filling in any blanks of the storyline. In PorterGirl – The Vanishing Lord, part of the plot refers to heraldry and I had a super time reading up on that and making lots of notes with little pictures. An online series on my blog, set in the early 1930s, featured a character with learning difficulties. Although very little about her treatment and condition actually appeared on the page, I spent a long time researching attitudes and treatments at that time. Research gives me a better understanding of my subject matter and enables me to write about things with a greater depth.

What does literary success look like to you?

I’m not going to lie, I’d quite like a big house in country and an old Jaguar so I can roll around the place like Inspector Morse. I was contacted by an American reader about my first book, First Lady Of The Keys. She and her sister read it together during long periods spent at a hospice where their mother was sadly receiving end of life care. The reader told me that the book had made them laugh and smile at one of the darkest times in their lives and thanked me for writing it. If that isn’t success, I don’t know what is.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Only one and that will be published later this year.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun by Neil Ruston. It’s not for the faint-hearted and probably too dark in places for most, but I think it’s a work a genius.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? (E.g. software, self-help books, marketing books etc.)

Can’t say I have ever used any of those, I write everything on the standard word processing software on my laptop and I believe the only way to get better is to write, write, write. I advise writers to invest in a good teapot and a comfy chair. That’s all you need.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

The PorterGirl series certainly has connections and continuations throughout all the books, but they work well as stand alones too. I personally like to keep up the running jokes and references and the readers seem to enjoy it too.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Taking criticism too personally and underestimating the amount and quality of the competition out there. Writing a good book just isn’t enough these days. You really have to build your own little brand and find a way of standing out from the crowd. Writing is actually only a very small part of being a writer. Which is a pain in the bum.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I think it’s the dialogue, but that’s just me.