Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Archive for July, 2008

Back, Cracked and Knackered…

Just a quick check-in as my life seems to have gone a bit bonkers this week!

Firstly, huge thanks to everyone who has forsaken the glorious weather to come and see me in person these last few days. We had a fantastic launch at the Forbidden Planet store in London on Wednesday, attended by (amongst many others) John ‘Mike Read… TARDIS Wendy House’ Williams, genius cult singer-songwriter MJ Hibbett, Jedi Chef JMC 101, a New Zealand man called Phil who made me draw K-9 on his book insert, and my old school friend Chris Selden, who I hadn’t seen since August 1987 when we were dragged apart kicking and screaming, still shouting Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy quotes at each other.

Klebba Obion and I then held court in a swelteringly hot Borders on Teesside Park on Saturday afternoon, and I had about three hours sleep before dragging the cardboard robots, Klebba, and a two-hour stand-up and slide show routine to a packed-out Waiting Room – my favourite veggie restaurant-cum-arts venue. It was heaving, and the pictures of Jimmy Savile got the biggest laughs of the night. For my next book, I’m not going to bother writing anything, I’m just going to collect loads of pictures of Jimmy Savile. In a book. It’ll be called ‘The Jimmy Savile Picture Book’ and it’ll be on the New York Times Bestseller List within minutes.

So now I’m back home and I’m throwing myself into more media circus nonsense… apologies to all who caught me chuntering on about vintage Star Wars figures in margerine tubs to the lovely Sean Rowley on BBC London today! Tomorrow I’m on BBC Scotland’s Radio Cafe at about 1.30pm, and then on Friday (bestill my beating heart!) it’s Steve Wright In The Afternoon.

And in the meantime, here are five things I’ve learnt since my last blog entry…

1. Steve Wright suffers from terrible hay fever.
2. Kanye West once tried to pack a ten-man entourage into the smallest lift in the world at BBC’s Western House. 
3. My farmhand-sized shoulders don’t really fit into a medium-sized Jedi Chef cloak.
4. Leslie Brown’s toyshop in Stockton gets a bigger cheer than Romer Parrish’s toyshop in Middlesbrough.
5. A prominent member of Hodder & Stoughton’s TV tie-in team used to have childhood nightmares about the appearance of Rolf Harris’ foot at the end of the 1970s ‘Learn To Swim’ Public Information film. This one, in fact…

Sweet dreams, all…!

Off to the Windy Apple…

Well this is it, I’m now packing a healthy number of underpants into a holdall and preparing to head to London for the Wiffle Lever thing at Forbidden Planet. Oh, and Steve Wright In The Afternoon! I’m on Radio 2 on Thursday with Steve Wright, and I’m only kicking myself that I can’t find my vintage 1981 7″ of ‘I’m Alright’ to get signed. I bought it after seeing the video on the Multi-Coloured Swap Shop. 

I can help but think I should be being a bit more ‘authorly’ in the midst of all this, strutting around the street in a white linen suit, swigging laudanum from the bottle and attending bullfights. But we don’t have any of those things on Teesside really, so instead I’ve spent the day ironing and walking the dog. Then I got a bit bored and ironed the dog, as an experiment.

Soooo… if you can make it to Forbidden Planet on Shaftesbury Avenue in the heart of London’s glittering West End for 7pm tomorrow, then that would be lovely, I’ll be the one in the neatly-ironed underpants looking slightly uncomfortable. Failing that… see you back on the Blogsphere sometime on Friday. Don’t forget to bring the milk in on Thursday morning.

The Bantam Menace

Shocking news! While posing for photos for the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette yesterday, I was stunned to discover that Klebba Obion (the alien warlord from The Battle To Save Earth, a story I wrote when I was eight and a third) had made his way to Earth. And not only that, he’d read Wiffle Lever To Full! and was far from happy!

Klebba skips past the boring bits in Chapter 3

Clenching his fist, Klebba swore to exact revenge upon me. And then he just swore, because it was clouding over a bit and his cloak tends to run in the drizzle…


And so battle commenced! Thankfully, I’d been to Toys R Us on the way and commandeered a trusty ‘laser sword’ (notice my cunning avoidance of the word ‘lightsaber’ to avoid any galactic legal complications…)


Before we knew it, we were fighting for our lives in front of the, erm, Mighty Galactrafountains. Just outside the back entrance to H&M.

Klebba Obion has taught you well...

Amazingly, footage of this historic encounter was filmed by a passing professional photographer…

More developments as we get them. Especially if there’s nothing decent on telly this afternoon.

Move Over, Rover…

Well, I spent nine hours driving yesterday and slight less time in Portmeirion, but it was worth it… thanks to everyone from The Unmutual for putting up with my ramblings at the splendid PM2008 Prisoner convention yesterday. Amidst the dreaming spires and rustling greenery of The Village itself, I ate a packet of cheese and onion crisps, got sand all over my trainers, and chuntered on in front of Robert Rietti, whose brilliant voiceover work is all over the original Prisoner TV series. Amazingly, he came up to me afterwards and said how much he’d enjoyed listening to me!

Anyway, here are the obligatory pics, with thanks to expert photographer Adam who gamefully took over camera duties when my battery ran out in the Hercules Hall…

Prisoner Wifflage

More Prisoner Wifflage

The agonised expression on my face in this second pic is the result of Dave, the onstage interviewer, kindly reading aloud the bits I’d written about other Unmutual members while they were all present in the room. It’s the literary equivalent of the Chinese Water Torture.

I had a great time though, even if I did get home at 2am covered in bits of Monster Munch and ripped to the gills on Red Bull. Thanks to Rick, Howard, Dave, Rob and everbody else I met yesterday for being so nice to me! And if you’d like to find out more about this sterling bunch, visit http://www.theunmutual.co.uk/

Macclesfield Wifflage

OK, this is the last one of these, I promise! Thanks to Adam, who snapped this sensational sighting of Wiffle Lever To Full! in the Macclesfield branch of Waterstones…

Macclesfield Wifflage

I’ve never been to Macclesfield, but it’s always had a place in my heart because it’s mentioned in passing in Alan Garner’s fantastic children’s novel The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen, which I still love to bits. And since mentioning The Owl Service on this blog two months ago, I now get a steady stream of traffic from people Googling for Alan Garner sites, so… hello! Alan Garner fans unite. We should have a meeting every year in a remote Cheshire farmhouse before going out onto Alderley Edge at midnight to hunt Svarts.

Anyway, the picture…. you’ll notice that yet again I’ve been pictured alongside Anne Frank. I have no comment to make on our relationship at this stage, and I’d also like to distance myself from reports that I’ve become ‘close’ to Marianne Faithfull.

Right, off to do something useful with the afternoon… don’t forget I’m at the PM2008 Prisoner convention in Portmeirion this Sunday. I’ll be hanging around all day flogging books and doing bits on stage as well, I think. So if you’re there, come and say hello – and bring me a dark chocolate Kit-Kat, I’ll be famished by 4pm.

Geordie Wifflage

The sightings keep coming! Big shout-out (hey!) to John, who took this photo in the main Newcastle branch of Waterstones…

Geordie Wifflage

As you can see, it’s taken its rightful place in Biography section, alongside Anne Frank, Stephen Fry, Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi. As far as I’m aware none of their books contains similar musings on giving K-9 a toupee made from pubic hair… although to be fair, I haven’t read the Gandhi book so I could be doing him a disservice.

NB I added the pointing finger myself. They don’t have them in Waterstones. Not in the Newcastle branch, anyway.

Guildford Wifflage

More Wiffle sightings are rolling in, including this from our intrepid correspondant Allen, lurking in the Guildford branch of Waterstones with a mobile phone camera in his hand. Thanks, Allen!

Guildford Wifflage

As you can see, I’m on a higher shelf of the display than William Shatner, and his book has been discounted more heavily than mine. Mind you, he got to pilot the Starship Enterprise and snog Nichelle Nichols, so he probably wins a narrow victory on points.

Keep your Wiffle sightings coming in, and there’ll be a special prize for the first person who can snap one in a charity shop display.

Never turn down a free launch…

Woah! Cough! Splutter! Crikey! I had a minor asthma attack this morning when my friend Phil e-mailed me the below picture, taken today in the Chichester branch of Waterstones…

Waterstones Wiffle

Yes, it’s Wiffle Lever To Full!, nestling on the Summer promotions table between Stephen King and Terry Pratchett! The official release date remains 24th July, but Waterstones have got their stock, and – dammit – they’re going to sell the hell out of it. That last sentence works best if you read it in the voice of John Wayne.

So there you go… I’m on the shelf. Not for the first time in my life. Both amazing and terrifying to see, though! If anyone else sees any more Wiffle books on display anywhere, then snap a picture and post it here for us all to have a look at. And then we can vote on which bookshop has the nicest stickers and the tidiest display.

And! And! And! News of an official London launch. I’d expected something a bit grotty and low-key (in keeping with the previous 35 years of existance I’ve had on this planet), but NO! The nice Mr Hodder & Mr Stoughton have pulled out the stops again, and we’re having a proper swanky bash at (drum roll…)

The Forbidden Planet London Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JR.

6pm-7pm, Wednesday 23rd July.

Then off for drinkies somewhere afterwards, providing I can find a West End pub that serves Workie Ticket on draught. If not, then I’m going home in a huff and I’m taking my unsold books with me.

But come along! There will be readings, murmurings, signings and wafflings, and I’ll draw pictures of anything you like. Providing it’s not spiders or clothes hangers, I have a slight phobia of both. Spiders ON clothes hangers gave me the screaming heebie-jeebies. And we might even have Imperial Stormtroopers serving almond slices and Blue Nun. Who can say?

There are a few of these strange events looming up, so I’ve been amazingly pro-active and made a new blog page entitled ‘READINGS, SIGNINGS AND WAFFLINGS’ (it’s over there, on the right) to keep you posted with these things. I’ll update it in John Wayne’s voice as regularly as possible.

Late Night Line-Up

Bossk arrived at the front door this morning! And so did Walrus Man. Not in person, naturally – no, we’re talking Star Wars figures again. If the real Walrus Man had turned up in person then the dog would have had his flippers for breakfast. Grrrrr! But yes, the Ebay collection is still growing slowly, and I’ll shortly be turning my attention to Obi-Wan Kenobi (original 1977 Hong Kong imprint grey hair version, please). Not that I’m overtly fussy about these things.

In Wiffle terms, it’s been an odd couple of days in that (gasp) OTHER PEOPLE are reading the book as we speak. Or at least I’m guessing they are, although it’s entirely possible they’ve all just used it as a handy prop for a succession of wobbly tables.  But I have a small box of Wiffle Levers in the front room, and have so far dished out copies to my friend Wez (who’s in Chapters 2, 5 and 10), my friend Stuart (Chapters 2, 5 and 6), and my friend Pete, who isn’t in the book at all but he once played bass for David Bowie so naturally he has special dispensation.

Oh and my parents have a copy as well, and are no doubt thumbing through it saying ‘That’s not true… that’s not true… that’s not true either…’ before investigating the possibility of actually taking out libel action against a member of their immediate family. And I’ve today ordered another 100 copies, which I had to (brace yourself) PAY FOR. So if anyone would like a signed and personalised copy in exchange for an entirely reasonable £10, then feel to drop me a line before they start clogging up the dog’s living space. I’ll even draw pictures on it if you like.

In the meantime, I’m still tentatively working on a potential second book, and it now contains the immortal line ‘Would you like a Mini Muffin, Stormwatch?’ which I actually heard spoken by my friend Matthew, who’s in Chapters 3, 4, 6 and 9 of Wiffle Lever To Full!.

And the epilogue.

*taps nose*