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Monday 12th November 2012

I seem to be getting back into writing mode and am working hard to try and change the Gorgeous TV comedy drama script I wrote into a half hour Radio 4 sit-com (suitable for 11.30am). I have to take some fucks out, both words and actions and I am trying to lose a few characters, but that might be a good thing. The TV script seems a bit sprawling and confusing in hindsight. I was trying to please them by making it a bit more dramatic, but it's not in as good shape as I thought. I have a feeling it might do better as a sit-com. We'll see.
Remarkably there was a shrek in the TV script, even though the writing of that predated my current obsession. I have an advert for a rival tourist attraction called Nookie Ditch (any similarity to any actual tourist attractions is entirely coincidental) and that includes something called "The Ogre in a Boulder", a stalagmite that resembles a scary monster (all caves have to have one). In the TV version that boulder magically transforms into an actor, "looking a bit like Shrek" (should be a shrek but we'll let it go), "grumpily shaking his fist".
Given there was a shrek in it it seems ludicrous that the BBC turned down this script. It has to be the biggest scandal to hit the corporation in years.
But I will of course include the a shrek in the radio version and now I have some kids saying, "He looks like a shrek," before the Warlock of Nookie Ditch correct them, "just different enough from a Shrek not to infringe on any copyright." Which is of course what that a shrek will look like if this sitcom ever makes it to TV.
I just hope I never get to write any period drama. It's going to be pretty difficult to get a shrek into that. But maybe a character called Alan Shreck will have to do in that case.
My deadline for this script is pretty tight. I need to get a first draft in by Thursday and it's sent off to the powers that be next week, but I am glad of that as it forces me to get on with it. My work will always expand to fill the time available. And though I am still finding plenty of excuses to leave my desk, I am finding the writing a lot easier than I was in September. Sometimes this seems like the hardest job in the world and sometimes you sit down and wonder what all the fuss was about. It's really only writing out some things that people might say. If you fuck it up then you can go back and make them say different things.
But it's a bit easier if you're working with characters and relationships that you've thought about and established. Weirdly the genesis of both the scripts I have worked on this month came back in the 1990s, with the stage show Ra-Ra Rasputin and the sitcom script "Sex Amongst the Stalagmites". Both these projects have already been twenty years in the making and neither of them are being made as yet (I've had positive feedback about the Rasputin script, but need to go in for a meeting to discuss changes, sadly after my 25th November aim deadline, but that was never realistic).
And whilst reading back over some old diaries looking for titbits about my time at Cheddar caves (sadly it turns out that coincided with a time that I wasn't writing my journal, I came across an entry from 24th July 1983 (a little bit before Warming Up began) which shows where my Rasputin obsession began - "Another bit of a history book I have read recently was about Rasputin. He really is amazing, or was. He screwed whoever he could, hypnotised and survived several doses of enough poison to kill several men, three of four gunshots, one from close range, one in the head and finally he drowned. His healing powers and refusal to die can be likened to a messiah who we all know, and it makes you wonder if Jesus wasn't a hypnotist too, or, of course, whether Rasputin wasn't a messiah." That pretty clearly shows where and why my obsession began and though there are other things that interest me in him now other than screwing and hypnotism (though those are still two of my favourite things). Perhaps all my best work was done in the last century. Luckily I am able to mine it all now.
Last week's Metro piece about the time I was probably not cursed on an interrail train has reignited my interest in writing a book about my year off between school and University. It was a pretty eventful twelve months involving death, fire, gypsy curses and a minimal amount of kissing (I kept my precious virginity in tact somehow) and would allow me to further explore the obsession I have with my sweetly idiotic teenage self. There are a few ideas bubbling under and I have to start thinking about my Edinburgh show too.
That will be my tenth consecutive stand up show at the Fringe (ten different shows in ten years, although I did do versions of two of them previously). After this year I am keen to give good value for money and have managed to work out that for less than the cost of the big lamp post adverts I put all over town I could print up a 90 minute DVD of my favourite bits from the last 9 shows to give free to everyone who buys a ticket. Which I think would be a better way to spend the money and probably better publicity too. I'd rather give something to the people who see the show (and presumably like me) than waste it annoying people who don't want to see my face everywhere. After this year's Edinburgh I am keen to do things slightly differently. We'll see what I can come up with.
So although I don't yet have a theme for the show (but am thinking along the lines of Sin, Disability and the number 10 = those are three different shows by the way) it's nice to find myself in a place where my brain is starting to bubble with ideas a little bit and where I have the time to sit down and make some of them happen.

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My new stand up show, Lord of the Dance Settee will be on at the George Sq Theatre at 10.45pm every night of the Edinburgh Fringe Buy tickets here.
My new play, I Killed Rasputin will on at the George Square Theatre at 3.35pm every day of the Edinburgh Fringe. Buy tickets here
Buy a season pass to Meaning of Life, or make a donation for a badge, either one off or monthly at gofasterstripe.com/rhmol
You can watch most of the RHMOL shows for free on my vimeo channel
You can get video downloads of Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast from Go Faster Stripe
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Also on your kindle (or any smart phone or tablet with the kindle app) catch up on the early years of Warming Up (with extra retrospective additions) with Bye Bye Balham and The Box Lady and Other Pesticles (only £3.53 each)