Raft-making, with Ray Mears

So, about 10 days ago, on one of the loveliest days of the year, a band of otherwise-unemployed young men and women contrived to surpise their friend TMS with a surprise birthday picnic.  And after the picnic came the raft-making:


I’ve been making a movie!

                     [I prefer to call them ‘films’, but the alliterative effect made for a better title]

Yes, I am now (since Friday evening) officially a MOVIEMAKER and FILMSTAR!  I and some others (including the Wonderful Girlfriend) are taking part in the 48 Hour Film Project – an international competition (apparently Fargo, North Dakota is also hosting its leg this weekend) in which the local winners then have the chance of a worldwide win.

On Friday evening we were given a genre [detective/cop], a prop [CD], a line of dialogue [‘Is that all you’ve got?’] and a character [restauranteur, Roberta Darling] to include, and two days in which to complete our piece.

I joined on for experience really – to see what film-making looks like in practice – and as a writer.  But when Kev (writer/artist/co-director) and I sat down to write our plot on Friday evening, it quickly became clear that I was going to have to be the main actor as well.

And it’s all been pretty fun, really, although quite frustrating, when you just want to ‘get on with it’ and people are having conversations about technical things you don’t understand.  My last main scene involved ‘writhing’ in the toilets of Henry’s Cellar Bar in my best suit, nose pressed up flat against the pungently urine-flavoured floor.  A Moment.  We also filmed quite a good fight scene, a flirting-with-the-restauranteur (played by Maria) scene, and a collection of standing-on-a-stool-on-my-roof stills.

And now, I await the magic hands of the technically-gifted ones to turn it all into Art.

Out of the Blue

Here’s an email I received last Thursday.  I was feeling down at the time and it helped:


Hello my friend.  You do not know me, but about 3 1/2 years ago you bought a book and it landed in my hands.  Red Moon Rising.  A best friend was in New Zealand doing work and she sent it to me. You wrote a note in the front of that book.  I read that book at a crucial point in my life and there has been a lot of life happen since then.   

Let me know if you get this.  I have thought about emailing you for quiet a while and never have.  Hope this is still your email.  I would love to hear back from you.



Background: Back in 2004, I got my parents to buy me a few copies of the book mentioned above, since I was very involved in 24-7Prayer.  I gave them away with a note in the front that they should be passed on.  Four years later I got my first reply 🙂

[the conclusion of] The Unbent Banana

[for the story so far, go here and then here …]

Four days later, the still-green bananas were cut down from the tree and laid to rest in the back of a truck, alongside cousins from all across the plantation.  All except one.  She, a foot long and more, was left behind to continue growing, like a solitary stalk of wheat after harvest time.  The leaf-fronds of the tree, having equally loved and delighted in all of their offspring, now poured all their nurturing energy and whispered affection onto their one remaining charge.  They coaxed and cooed, affirmed and encouraged, trying to wash away the memories of those silly, teasing songs.  The unbent banana heard the leaves above tell her that they were glad she’d not been taken away from them, that they liked her, and that they were proud of her size and shape.

“Why be nice to me?” she asked.

“Why not?” they replied, seemingly confused.  “You are ours.”

“But all I’m going to do is rot – I’ll probably catch a disease or something and end up killing you too.”

“That makes no difference – it wouldn’t be your fault if you did.  None of this has been your fault, you know – you might as well blame us for feeding you.”

“You fed the others just the same, and they were alright.”

This time no reply came from the leafy canopy.  They wanted to say how stupid it was that some European politicians could make rules about what was and what wasn’t the correct size for one of their precious ovaries, but they let it go.

“Maybe I should just grow and see how big I can get,” the banana thought to herself, halfway between masochism and parent-pleasing.


In the entire plantation, not a single other banana remained.  Neighbouring trees, long stripped of their loads, could now see her.  Now she was theirs as well.  She herself was bloated but encouraged – almost happy, in a way – and beginning to yellow and ripen.  And then she was cut.

The plantation owner took her, measured her, took several photos of her, and put her in the fridge.  Cold and completely dark for the first time, she considered her position.  Now separate from the tree, she could feel the life in her ebbing away – slowly, but ebbing nonetheless.  Maybe the plantation owner had kept her growing out of curiosity, or for a special dessert – she could handle that.  But when the door reopened, it wasn’t the table for which she was due, but an office.  A small, thin knife was slid into her side, a small chunk of flesh removed, and then voices.

“It’s good.”

“Yes sir.”

“Very nice, actually.”

“Yes sir – very nice, sir.”

“And the length?”

“Length sir? Forty-two centimetres, sir.”


“Yes sir…”

“Plant her.”

“Yes sir!”

And so it was.  No longer teased and laughed at, this one banana was planted in the greenhouse, fed, and replanted outside.  A label was attached to her stem as it matured into a trunk:

Genus: O’Connor

New Variety

Bred for strength, size, and flat-packing


Before a banana browns, or even ripens to a sickly-looking yellow, it is watched intently from above.  Bananas are ovaries, and very important – the privilege of living to develop your own stem, leaves, flowers and fruit is the most cherished hope of all.

Bitterness, Partisanship, and people who are too dumb to notice how childish they sound

Right, so today I wandered into a bookshop (to escape the incessent brightness of the Princes Street cherry blossom) and found a book called Scotland versus England.  It was basically a collection of insults or put-downs from one nation to the other – although rather unbalanced, since England received 90 pages of abuse, while Scotland only had to endure 15.

And it rankled me.

Then, this evening, I was killing time in the foyer of St John’s Episcopal Church.  Firstly I picked up the church newsletter, which was headed with a few paragraphs slagging off Richard Dawkins and Fundamentalist Creationists, for being mirror-images of each other.  Then I tried another Anglican magazine, which again was raging against Creationists, Evangelicals, Intelligent-Design monkeys, and everyone else they disagreed with, making sure to use the term ‘fundamentalist’ at every given opportunity whilst wondering why the world wasn’t as open-minded as the enlightened writers.

And that really fricking annoyed me.

There’s a bit in Galatians that points out that ‘the acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.’  I like that it says that these things are obvious, but we still glaze over on the middle line – hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy.  It’s these things that are getting on my wick at the moment: the dismissing of people you disagree with; advancing yourself to the detriment of others; tribalism; denominationalism; unforgiveness; all that.  It’s just so petty and pointless.

I’ve been a brave boy tonight and added something to ‘Political Views’ on my Facebook page: I’m now a Permanent Non-Partisan.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while – how our main political parties agree on most things, but still hate each other’s guts, and how completely dumb that is.  That’s why ‘factions’ (or ‘party spirit’ in some translations) is in that list; as soon as we join one, we are by definition anti all the others.  That’s crap.  I don’t want to be anti anyone – I really don’t.  But it’s hard, cos none of them are as enlightened as me 😉

An Absolute Force of Nature

If you get the chance (before Friday when it’ll be taken off), pop over to the BBC iPlayer and watch last Friday’s Have I Got News For You.

Actually, just watch the first ten seconds, that’ll do.

Brian Blessed is simply astonishing – unparalleled as a human being, as far as I can see.  There was nothing at all the others could do, just stand back and watch him go.  What on earth must it be like to live with him?