Documentary Making #2

Ill ill ill! I’ve been in bed since last Wednesday. Really nasty bout of flu. It’s only fair, I haven’t had flu (proper flu, not just ‘man’ flu) since I was fresher in 2000. This was worse. And bloody irritating too. I finally get a big TV writing project and my head starts swimming and I don’t know a couplet from a simile. Thankfully we’ve had to push most of the shoot back to the new year. Finding seven couples perfect for a television documentary is not something easily done in two weeks apparantly.

This is bought me a bit of breathing space. I have managed to get three of the poems done all together. It feels like I’ve done 100. Victoria and Nick I mentioned last time. I finally finished their poem late on Sunday in bed, torrents of sweat pouring down my forehead (bit like now actually). It’s an intensely personal story and I was very nervous about their reaction, but thankfully they were really pleased.

I had already finished another one at that point – the story of Peggy and James. Peggy and James are the oldest newlywed couple in the world at 90 and 94. There’s was a story of wonderful cliches. She used a chat up line on him, it was love at first sight, they got married on Valentine’s Day. But because of their age they don’t feel like cliches, it just gave their story a bombastic edge. Their love is loud. It made the news for Christ’s sake. Initially I tried a list poem (some loves are such and such, but our love is loud etc etc) but I needed to get more of their story into the poem, it’s a requirement of the program we’re making. In the end I was fairly pleased with the results. I think I capture Peggy’s voice well (James recently had a stroke, so he can’t speak any of the poem), it’s one of those character pieces, the type you find in Carol Ann Duffy collections.

I still managed to keep some of the “some loves” stuff, which is now an echo of the first piece in the show. This features two seven year olds – Maggie and Sere. They don’t have a love story of their own, obviously they’re seven, but we interviewed them and found out what they thought love was and what they loved themselves. I then created a poem in two halves. The first half is the “some loves” section: “sky dives / bungee jumps / football matches / the birthday bumps” etc etc. The second half is a back and forth ‘argument’ about what love is, but told mostly in metaphor: “Love is like an atlas in yellow and green and blue / And knowing wherever you point you’ll be transported to” etc etc. It’s not very long, perhaps 220 words in all, including both sections. The ideas Zara has for shooting it are great, really visual and beautiful. I think it’ll look really good.

That’s happening on Monday. Today Zara is in Paignton with Peggy and James, tomorrow she’s in Topsham with Nick and Victoria. I wish I could be there, but even sitting here and writing this ihas left me coughing and spluttering and wanting a nice long sit down in front of the telly. Besides, if I was well enough to go to Devon I’d be well enough to go to work at NWP, something I haven’t done for a week. The doctor has signed me off till next week, then it’s Christmas anyway. I’m resting up today as tomorrow I have a meeting in Colchester followed by my favourite gig of the year, then I’m home for Christmas (well Manchester with Sal, which is like home these days). The gig is Johnny Clarke, Martin Newell, Ross and me at Colchester Arts Centre. My bit’s only 20 minutes, I should be able to manage that and then crawl back to bed.

My next task on the doc is a poem for James and Jeanette. They were in The Observer’s Ex-Files section earlier this year. It seems to be a case of “life got in the way,” and “love does not conquer all.” They’re good friends now so it’s not a gloomy story, but I do like the fact that we’ve got a story that makes us hit the earth with a bit of a bump, afterall the “love conquers all” tales of Peggy and James and Nick and Victoria. This is also different because I’m writing for a male voice, whcih will make a nice change.

I will publish all the poems on this site once the doc is aired on 13 February 2009.

No Comments

Leave a Reply