Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Archive for May, 2008

OK, that Star Wars dream in full…

It’s over a week ago now, but it’s still ingrained in my memory!

I’d been taken prisoner by Imperial forces, and was chained upside down to some kind of metal cage in – frankly – the Death Star. And it was amazing, it looked great – all shiny and grey with those strange elongated lights in all the right places! Anyway, I wasn’t scared because I could see Han Solo and Chewbacca coming to rescue me. Except it wasn’t them – it was actually Han’s wayward eldest son (wait for it) Julian, and Chewbacca’s nephew (no, really…) Robin!

They looked just like their more famous relatives, but had huge 1970s bouffants and big mutton chop sideburns. Especially Robin, who was particularly hairy even by Wookiee standards. Anyway, with stormtroopers striding around us, they ‘blasted’ me out of my prison and snuck me away to a little Rebel hidey-hole, where I met Luke Skywalker! And this time it was the genuine article, aged 50! Except he had chronic psoriasis and a gammy leg. And then it went a bit weird, and R2-D2 started bringing round sausage rolls and pork pies on a serving trolley. And I had to explain to Robin The Wookiee that I was actually a vegetarian.

Anyway, to celebrate my release I’ve bought two more vintage 1977 action figures on Ebay – a mint condition R2-D2 (pork pie accessories not included) and a sort-of-nearly-mint condition R5-D4. Complete with authentic faulty motivator, I’m trusting.

And! And! And! ‘Wiffle Lever To Full! – The Movie’ is now complete! It’s in three parts, and the first sight of it has already prompted me to get my hair cut and start a punishing fitness regime. It’s very funny though, and even has a proper special effect. All being well we’ll have it on Youtube today or tomorrow.

A long time ago, in a front room far, far away…  

The Gasman Cometh

Forgot to mention, as we were filming on Thursday afternoon, we spotted a man from the gas board wandering up the drive to read the meter. At that moment, James was in the front room dressed in his full Klebba Obion costume… which, lest we forget, looks like this:

So we sent him to answer the door.

The conversation went like this:

Klebba: (Completely deadpan) Have you come to read the meter?
Gasman: Yep. 
Klebba: No problem, it’s just that box there.
Gasman: Yep.
Klebba: Give us a shout if you need any interplanetary laser equipment.
Gasman: Yep.

He didn’t bat an eyelid, so our local meter-reader is clearly either a) the coolest man in the world, or b) an alien warlord himself.

We’re veerying towards the latter, there was just something about his eyebrows. 

Still working up to reporting my Star Wars dream, but at the moment I’m cleaning the landing in preparation for tonight’s Eurovision soiree.

Shameless Celluloid Wiffling

It’s been far too long since we had an update here, so many apologies for my little disappearing act – just tell yourself I got stuck in a chronic hysteresis caused by a tear in the vortex of the space-time something-or-other, and we’ll all get along just fine…

Anyway, hot news off the Wiffle Press! I’m proud to report that principal photography on the three Wiffle Lever To Full! promotional films has now wrapped after a back-breaking four-hour location shoot in the front room this afternoon. We’re all now back in our Winnebagos being massaged by members of Girls Aloud and snorting icing sugar off the back of vanilla slices.

OK, here are the basics – when I was eight years old in 1981, I wrote a story called ‘The Battle To Save Earth’, in which me and my best friend Richard Moxham fell into a force field and got transported to the distant alien planet Davrock, where we joined the rebellion against the brutal tyrant Davrockian leader, Klebba Obion. It’s utterly mental, and it’s printed in the book in full for those who want to lose themselves in its dubious charms. The bit set at Villa Park during a crunch Division 1 title match is particularly bonkers.  

So, in a nutshell, our little films are a v-e-e-e-ry loose adaptation of The Battle To Save Earth. Obviously I’m keeping the plot close to my chest, but I can exclusively leak onto the internet some exciting location pictures. Here’s Klebba Obion himself, looking pretty bloody brutal and tyrannical in the, erm, dense jungles of Swamp-World…

And here are his two favourite members of the crack Imperial Robot Guard, fearsomely patrolling the, erm, mean streets of City Zone 43.

As you can see, the special FX (as we professionals say) are not quite up to Lucasfilm standards, but we think they’re at least equivalent to those in several episodes of Blake’s 7.

All the films will hopefully be online in the next week or so, but I have to say huge thanks to James Harris at Shameless Films, a proper professional film-maker who gave up his day to help with this nonsense. In fact, check him out here, and drop him a line to reassure him that he’ll never have to eat another vanilla slice in the name of art…


Thanks also to Robert Nichols – the best robot fluffer in the business.

And tomorrow I’ll tell you about my brilliant Star Wars dream!

Big Woolly Dog Costumes For Humans

These blogs are sneaky little things, and give you all kinds of interesting statistics behind the scenes. For instance, if anyone comes to this site as a direct result of using Google, I can find out exactly what phrase they put into Google to get here.

Usually it’s nothing devastatingly interestingly, but the results from the other morning morning made me laugh so loud that hot chocolate came down my nose. This is what people had been putting into Google early on Tuesday to find this site…

There’s clearly a gap in the market, and if the book doesn’t sell then it’s a gap I intend to fill. That’s right… I’ll go into business making fluffy Alan Garner dolls.

Euan Thorneycroft, by the way, is my agent. He’s delighted that he’s building such a dedicated fanbase, especially amongst the kind of people that like dressing up in big woolly dog costumes for humans.

Rocking the Mabinogian

Amazingly, I’ve got something approaching a quiet day today. This is what I need to do with it, in this order…

1. Cut the knee-high grass in the garden.
2. Remove the periscope from the dog.
3. Wash some clothes.
4. Watch ‘The Owl Service’.

The Owl Service arrived on DVD last week, and I’ve still got a few episodes left to watch. It’s amazing – I fell in love with Alan Garner’s books when I was 11, and Mr Millward read ‘The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen’ to us at school. He even made his moustache quiver when he read Cadellin Silverbrow’s lines. The Owl Service was adapted for TV in 1969, and it’s incredibly evocative and slightly unsettling. It’s also surprisingly kinky for a ‘kids’s show’ – there are endless shots of bare, mini-skirted legs being provocatively crossed, and smouldering eye-shadowed glances from beneath tumbling locks of hair.

And that’s just from Edwin Richfield.

Ho ho!

If I Were Richard Carpenter, And You Were A Lady…

Well, I’ve had a very strange and wonderful weekend. I went down to Legend, the Robin Of Sherwood convention, on Saturday – proudly letting 150 people in medieval tabards and chain mail loose on Nottingham city centre. And Nottingham city centre, commendably, didn’t bat an eyelid.

I’d toyed with the idea of taking the Cursed Robin Of Sherwood dolls with me, and in the end came up with a compromise. I won them in the charity auction at the same event in 2006, and since then they’ve blighted my life – they’ve destroyed two cars, one PC, a broadband modem and a shelf. I didn’t want to release them all from their imprisonment at the back of the spare room cupboard, but I temporarily liberated Nasir and placed him in secure storage – in a tightly-sealed container whose previous prisoners had included a selection of Spearmint-flavoured dog chews. In fact, here he is, in his bondage…

Don’t look into his eyes!

Anyway, I took him with me and read out a few extracts from the book to a really nice crowd. I was utterly terrified, but they laughed in all the right places, stayed quiet in all the right places, and even Kate – the lovely tarot card reader that I described as being Irish with green eyes when in fact she’s Scottish with blue eyes – didn’t seem to mind too much. Thanks, Kate!

What nearly put me off my stride, though, was halfway through when I noticed Richard Carpenter enter the room. Richard’s one of my writing heroes – not only did he create Robin Of Sherwood, but he’s also responsible for Catweazle. Catweazle! I still watch it on DVD, and I want a little non-cursed woolly Geoffrey Bayldon for my next dog chew jar. So it was a bit disconcerting when I realised Richard was going to hear me reading the bit about being hit in the testicles with a big stick by my best friend Doug Simpson. We were 11 at the time, and pretending to be Friar Tuck and Little John.

But he was laughing! He was! Richard Carpenter was laughing at my jokes. And afterwards, I queued up to get Nasir’s jar signed by him, and his lovely wife Annabelle ‘Mad Mab’ Lee and – bestill my beating heart – Mark Ryan, who played Nasir himself. And the esteemed Mr C told me that he’d really enjoyed my readings, that I wrote really well, and that it was all incredibly atmospheric. And I thought I was going to faint. So thanks, Richard – you really don’t know how much that means.  

And then Mark signed my jar with the immortal missive ‘Bollocks! Let me out you nobby!’ (as you can probably see in the picture) and my life was complete.

Thanks to everyone I met and who made me feel exceptionally welcome on Saturday – nothing is forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten. 

Although I nearly left my memory stick in the official convention PC.

Digestive Rehab

A few people have asked recently what made me zoom relentlessly around the conventions mentioned in Wiffle Lever. Especially considering that, at the time, there wasn’t any sniff of this resulting in a book… and that the whole strange escapade took a relentless toll on my credit card bills (from which they’re still recovering, in fact my Natwest Maestro card remains in a critical condition in intensive care, having a handful of 10p pieces fed to it intravenously at the end of every month).

The answer, I’ve realised tonight, is that I have a staggeringly addictive nature. I’ve always suspected this to be the case, but it was really driven home this evening when, at 11pm, I went to the all-night Tesco to buy two packets of chocolate digestives to see me through a few days of intensive writing ahead. I always eat lots of biscuits when I’m writing, usually averaging a packet of custard creams for every 1000 words, and then treating myself to a Penguin at the end of every chapter. Although sooner or later I’m going to have to face up to the fact that he belongs with his family in Antarctica. 

Every one a winner.

Anyway, I arrived home at 11.30 and decided – unwisely – to eat “just one” digestive from the top of the packet. You guessed it… I’ve just finished the lot.

Which is pretty much a biscuity metaphor for the conventions in Wiffle. The Doctor Who convention I went to in November 2005 was the “just one” at the top of the packet, but then Star Wars a month later became the “no-one will notice if I have another”, and Blake’s 7 in the New Year was the “what’s wrong with eating three biscuits anyway?”. By the time I got to Robin Of Sherwood I was on a mad sugar rush, babbling to Nickolas Grace with crumbs all over my lapels, and when I got home from Red Dwarf at the end of 2006 I was a bloated mess in the corner of the house – belching, feeling unbelievably guilty, and wiping milk chocolate from around my mouth with the back of my hand.  Before starting on the Penguin again… or “Mr Flibble” as I insisted on calling him.

So now I feel a bit ill. And that’s not a metaphor, I genuinely do – I’ve just eaten 24 chocolate digestives in two hours and I need to go to bed. I’m the Amy Winehouse of the biscuit world, and should probably thank my lucky stars that I’ve never dabbled in anything stronger – crack cocaine for example, or Jaffa Cakes.  

Digestive Rehab here we come.

No, no, no.

(None of this has anything to do with Frankenbiscuits, by the way)