Disco!

I love disco dancing – I just can’t shake the feeling. Or I just don’t want to. When I was 17, nights out disco dancing happened once or twice a month. All night, all dancing, every single time. My hair slick with gel — it was as if we weren’t ageing. Now, the chance doesn’t come up as often as I’d like and my disco dancing companions have dwindled down to single figures (also, I’ve discovered I was and am ageing…). Ironic considering. Babies have got in the way. Jobs have overtaken that dance-floor passion which once stampeded over everything. Procreation has dwarfed the very passion that makes it all possible. People get their kicks in other ways. When the babies aren’t crying, that is…

Disco dancing never asked anybody permission. Respect that fact.

When that chance does come, I’m out there, out on the floor. Try and fucking stop me and see what happens! My shapes may have changed, but none of that matters, and new 30-something-friendly moves have replaced them, fresh for this era. Walk into that room and you may as well be on another planet.

Lose your phone. Here, no internet is needed. Make your own dreams, make things happen your way.

If you’re disco dancing, you don’t give a shit about nothin’. Everyone around you is smiling and glowing, throwing arms, stealing shapes and touching bodies. Time is a forgotten concept. They’re not normal people anymore. In the disco hall, occupations refuse to exist. The entire world is shut out as if it never was in the first place. Everyone is smiling, throwing arms, loving the music. There are no enemies.

With disco, the sensation of endless possibility is infectious.

The default setting is always cool.

Nothing else has ever mattered. As long as that music is playing, you have no business thinking about the world outside.

Seriously, don’t bring phones here!

Saturday Night Fever is one of my all-time favourite films in the whole entire world. It’s a film born from disco’s one-time golden era – fiction dredged from the mucky guts of real life, playing out on a back-drop of New York grimness which is a total contrast to the dancing and the music. You just can’t hate the polyester. It’s about racism, coming to terms with how amazing and terrible the world is. It’s a film about finding yourself, friendship and doing what’s right. A film about the ugly thing lurking around every corner. Hormones and friendship and singing in very high voices.

Every time I hear that someone hates disco dancing, or despises Saturday Night Fever, I almost want to cry. Over the years I’ve got a lot of abuse for my love of disco dancing and lovin’ Saturday Night Fever in general. But then, disco teaches you not to care.

The default setting is cool, everyone is throwing arms, loving the music…

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The new website IS live

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The new website, under construction…click the peacock to see the finished thing

For a long time I’ve been debating how to publicise my freelance writing work: on here or on a separate site entirely? At first, I was convinced that creating a button on this blog had to be the answer. With my site already well ranked by the various search engines, it seemed to make sense that I tell the world about it here.

Then I realised something (when I say realised, I mean I finally stopped being stubborn and started listening to what plenty of people, including my girlfriend Jen, had said to me over the last couple of years): that this blog had been getting big for a while — lots of buttons, as you can see — and it might be wiser to give the freelance copywriting side of what I do a separate location. Start fresh. Now I’ve finished the site, which you can see here, I’m glad I chose that option. Doing it that way keeps things simple: you want creative writing and novel-related stuff, you come to CPink. You want freelance writing stuff and a good idea of what I do, you head over to www.chrispinkwriter.weebly.com

Weebly has been a pleasure to build my site with. It’s free, there are plenty of theme options, and it’s quick to get something decent up and running. Best of all there are lots of handy options and making changes isn’t difficult. One of these options has enabled me to create an online portfolio of work where you can read about how my copywriting jobs have evolved over the years.

Here’s to finally getting it sorted!

Andy Murray, Wimbledon Champion 2013: he’s only gone and bloody done it!

One of those quick illustrations where you sort of wish you didn't own the Copyright

Sometimes you sort of wish you didn’t really own the Copyright…

As Wimbledon 2013 commenced and everyone started doubting *Andy Murray’s skills even when he played really well, such is (or was) the national past-time, various people said to me things like “you should go there and watch it in person, soak up the atmosphere and all that.” Except I am boring like that. The way I see it, balls to the atmosphere, and double balls (pair of balls?) to the sunshine and the sensations: more than anything I want to actually see the tennis without people’s big fat irritating heads getting in the way. For doing that, nothing beats watching it on the laptop screen, live as it happens, close to the essential amenities and food sources that I require at such a mentally punishing time. I know a lot of people would’ve set their own grandmother on fire and pushed her down a very large flight of stairs just to get a seat in Centre Court, but for me I simply cannot allow myself to be interrupted. Plus, the way life goes, it’s very possible that I’d need a wee just at a very crucial moment, potentially ruining everything. It’s a good thing I wasn’t there in person, then…else when Andy finally put Djokovic down, it might have all suddenly got a bit too much.

(Put Djokovic down. A very dramatic way of putting it! Almost as if Andy was the vet and Novak was a sick, tired dog who could no longer do the splits. Oh, what a thought. This analogy doesn’t really work, of course, seeing as due to their specific physiology, dogs can’t even attempt the splits, so I decided it was better off being in brackets. On second thoughts, it probably would’ve been better to liken Djokovic to a cat…on third thoughts, it was a crap analogy.)

I was a complete non-stop verbal nightmare, sitting there watching that relentless, amazing final. Firstly, I made my girlfriend Jen experience every moment of it with me, even though she isn’t the least bit interested in tennis (she had the optional choice of doing some sort of practical activity like Henna’ing her candles while we watched, but decided against it in the end – probably wise as I’d only have kept screaming “he’s winning, he’s still winning!” in Jen’s face, potentially leading to some very wonkily-designed candles), and secondly, I kept clapping like a toddler whenever anyone hit the ball. One thing nobody could say was that I wasn’t prepared. Twenty minutes before the historic final began, having forced us to return from the shops at a strict time to allow me ample minutes to get ready, I gathered the things I would need to not have to get up during the course of the thing. It would be bad enough that I’d have to go to the toilet every so often…I couldn’t have my desire for food and treats getting in the way of things even more.

It turned out I had planned things well. Meticulously, you could say. I was proud of myself. With two large glasses of water there within easy-reaching distance, I would easily stay hydrated, and with various snacks, I’d have things to comfort me when things got hard for Andy (and if need be, I could always send Jen off).

By the half-way point I was screaming and shouting and really getting on Jen’s nerves (even though she loves me, giving me plenty of leeway to act like a tennis dork as and when I wish to). When Djokovic started a) arguing with the umpire** then b) slipping all over the place***, you could see that Andy could be in with half a chance. I say half a chance because, let’s be honest, we all thought Novak would come back at him, creating a scenario almost as hideous as the one I described earlier, where a grandmother in dire circumstances was mentioned heading towards some stairs.

But he didn’t. He couldn’t. And with that Andy Murray actually went and won.

Andy Murray, the world’s least likely stand-up comedian, finally Wimbledon Champion in 2013. Brilliant! I just wish I’d had enough faith in his skills to put some money on him at the bookies…

* I was going to say “poor Andy Murray,” but learning about the £1.6 million prize money quickly changed my mind. Did you hear? He’s just donated it all to charity!

** The umpire was a bit thick, wasn’t he? Even though I wanted Andy to win, that umpire was definitely biased…

*** Up until that point, I had no idea that Djokovic was capable of losing his balance, so this was a shocking and lovely surprise!

The great yet terrible grass snake hunt

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A hastily-drawn artist’s impression of what I probably would have looked like if I had actually discovered the snake and then dared to actually pick it up (I’m supposed to look shocked and in awe. I don’t think I would have dared to pick the grass snake up so you can consider this a rare and dramatic insight into how it would have been)

Up until today, I had never seen a grass snake in real life before. Never ever, and that was hard to believe. I am not at all ashamed to say that this was something which had deeply frustrated me at various times in my life – and frustrated others who I’d gone on and on about this to – seeing as every nature-loving person I knew and know of seems to have seen at least two of them (I have one friend who once accidentally saw one sunbathing nonchalantly in a bush. In a bush! He didn’t even like grass snakes – for him they seemed to be merely a source of amusement! In fact he seemed to resent grass snakes somewhat and I still have no idea why. Until I found this out I didn’t even know that resenting grass snakes was possible. Oh, what I’d have done to resent just one mere grass snake…).

Far from my reach, the grass snake was only to be found on Countryfile, Springwatch, or sometimes, in dreams where I believed I had finally found one, only for it to actually prove itself to be a twig (and a twig partially covered in dog-muck at that. I hated those dreams, I really did…).

For the following reasons, me going my whole entire 32-years without having seen one single grass snake makes absolutely no sense:

1: I’m one of those irritating people who loves nature so much that he can get absurd pleasure from the simplest of things, such as gazing at an inconsequential sunset while the entire world drives on by. I have always needed to see a grass snake, you see. In fact, I know it sounds ridiculous but I’ve always believed that this much passion for nature means I’ve always deserved to see a grass snake! But perhaps I am deluded.

2: In my time, I’ve taken excessive measures and gone well out of my way multiple times to locate grass snakes. I have traipsed fields and I have wandered many a nature reserve. I’ve even climbed over fences at various nature reserves in an attempt to get to the bits that the nature reserve owners don’t want people like me to see, because it holds much too much excitement. I HAVE GONE WHERE GRASS SNAKES MUST BE. Yet still my expeditions have proved fruitless. What do you actually have to do to find a bloody grass snake of your own these days? (Note: it doesn’t count if you’re so desperate and tragic that you have to hire a guide.)

3: 32 years of searching is a very long time indeed, whichever way you look at it. Obviously I didn’t start looking for grass snakes until I was about 8 or so, but still, more than two decades should be quite enough time.

When the grass snake did finally appear, it happened at both the best and worst time possible. The best because, at the time, I was on the phone to my girlfriend, thus enabling her to share in the wonder of the occasion, and the worst because, also at the time, my girlfriend’s mobile phone was running fast out of battery and set to expire at any minute. This put me in a serious quandary…do I only mention the grass snake’s appearance in passing, which doesn’t feel right at all considering just how special the moment was, or do I risk going into great detail about how the grass snake is sliding out from under the neighbour’s fence and slowly working its way into the dense undergrowth of our garden?

Obviously, being a grass-snake-maniac, I chose the latter. I had to take that risk. Even if I had wanted to, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything else.

“I’m going outside! I’m finding that snake!” I told Jen, as the grass snake vanished into the bushes. Out the back door at speed I went, hoping that there was enough time for me to get outside and locate the snake’s whereabouts and share all this before Jen’s phone died its death. I was optimistic.

“Can you see it yet?” Jen was saying, and I was saying “not yet, I’m just hunting for it now, I’m in the bushes, I’m deep in the bushes!” and then it happened. Jen’s phone went and died.

I’ll be honest: knowing that Jen’s phone was now probably unreachable, and that it had likely cut-off not due to my chin on the screen but due to the lack of battery — the old chin-on-the-screen thing haunts us all, does it not? — the first thing I did was stash the phone in my pocket and continue my great-grass-snake-hunt. After all, this was highly time-sensitive: there just wasn’t time to muck about.

I searched and I searched, but five minutes later, after looking as intensively as I could – the bushes in our garden are formidable – the search was over. Given the grass snake’s unbeatable manoeuvres, there was no other conclusion. I considered for a moment the other possibilities for tracking the wondrous creature down (taking into account that it could so easily have slid back under the fence, and that all this might be for nothing). One of them involved sending our greyhound Jojo in to the small, dark, impenetrable places where an inflexible grown man could not easily reach, but this idea had to be quickly abandoned. On a number of counts it just wasn’t practical. For one, it would be hard to communicate to Jojo that I wanted to locate the whereabouts of a grass snake, and for another, even if I had been able to do so, chances are that Jojo’s animal instincts would have taken over and, had she found the creature, she’d have ripped it to pieces rather than bring it out delicately into the open.

So I went inside and tried to call Jen but I couldn’t, because her phone was well and truly expired. Sad as I was that Jen hadn’t been able to revel in the moment with me, at least I had seen a grass snake finally!

Islam and controversy: that’s right, Channel 4 are doing it all again

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Hi, I’m Jon!

I’ve always thought of Channel 4s Jon Snow as a solid TV presenter. Probably the best of the over 50s, long-limbed presenters out there, when you stop and think about it. With Jon Snow, I always know exactly where I am, and whenever I watch him sitting there nonchalantly with his just-too-short trousers on Channel 4 News, I get the feeling that, at any moment, he either might a) fart and not even try to hide it or b) just say “you know what? I’ve quite had enough of all these silly scripts and such like…” and stand up and very graciously invite the entire nation for a nice drink down the pub. Come to think of it, it occurs to me that televising such a thing would be a remarkable interactive spectacle that Channel 4 could greatly benefit from – I mean…put aside the immense logistical problems and just imagine the entire nation being invited for a drink and turning up at the same exact pub! With Jon Snow of Channel 4 fame! Imagine the landlady’s shocked facial expression as the camera-person does a funky close-up shot of her, just like Hollyoaks has become so well-known for! (Just don’t imagine the queues in the lady’s toilets…here, plenty of women and men alike would be jealous of Snow’s too-short trousers if the toilets became blocked…).

It’s this kind of quirky inventiveness, what with all their strange documentaries and ideas, that (arguably) put Channel 4 in a unique and somewhat enviable position – or at least it did, until today. In the last decade, while treading in merely only the occasional political dog muck, Channel 4 have become universally known as a middle-class-renegade-wannabe TV channel who will do whatever they feel like, whenever they feel like it.

With Channel 4, The fact that fellow anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy might at any moment break into an unexpected bout of manic disco dancing live on air always makes me smile. Of course, that’s likely never going to happen – my sources tell me that K Guru-Murthy much prefers the Tango – but it doesn’t mean that the nation wouldn’t love it nonetheless. As a fan of disco dancing, we can but hope.

Much as I admire Channel 4 for being bold enough to do more or less whatever they please over the years – not quite the same thing as me liking everything they’ve done, I should add – this latest announcement by way of the guardian leaves me thinking that someone has gone and fallen and banged their head very-very hard. The really scary thing, however, is that this is TV and big decisions such as Let’s go on the record and call our new airing of the upcoming daily Ramadan prayers an act of deliberate provocation are not made by one person, but in fact a team of people, and over a long period of time during a period of countless meetings, legal checks and endless chatting over various forms of Waitrose cheesecake (though Snow is believed to be a renowned Sainsbury’s lover, it has to be said). In this case, that would mean that dozens and dozens of people all fell and banged their head simultaneously, which is a very worrying thought indeed. Almost as worrying as the notion of cheesecake being dropped…I’d hate to be working at Channel 4 right now without a hard-hat.

Anyway, enough about cheesecake. It’s really starting to play on my mind…

Initially, to me at least, the guardian‘s headline seemed hard to pin down and more than a bit puzzling. At first thought, when I read the words Broadcaster says broadcast is an act of ‘deliberate provocation’… I found myself thinking Do they mean another broadcaster is saying that Channel 4 are out or order? This made much more sense, seeing as it didn’t make sense to me that Channel 4 would knowingly say they were provoking people who are not fans of Islam, and thus liable to smash things up and do other nasty things. A few moments later, I realised that a lack of sleep is just as disturbing a thing as the thought of Krishnan Guru-Murthy disco dancing, or dropping an entire cheesecake on the floor and being forced to make that horrible decision: should I try and rescue it or should I throw it all in the bin? It was now, reading further down the page, that I realised what was going on:

Ralph Lee, head of programming over at Channel 4 was the one who was causing all the uproar down in the comments below the article (Ralph wasn’t actually engaged in the comments of course — now that would have been interesting). Aside from having the look of a man who would fit in perfectly on BBC1s Eastenders – if I was casting I’d suggest he’d be a market trader and possibly a long-lost friend of the loveable Alfie Moon – Ralph was making some pretty direct comments about all this, many of which were perfectly good and well-thought-out, I think, while some of them…not so much. Among other things, Mr Lee was reportedly saying that the calls to prayer for Muslims at this time of year were very important and should be heard in order to both address the growing rise of an important demographic – most Muslims are apparently younger Muslims – and also to make other non-Muslim viewers take more notice. So far, so good. To Channel 4, I gave a quick mental high-five.

Lee then went on to say something along the lines of: by putting this on TV and broadcasting to the nation, this would act as a form of deliberate ‘provocation’ to all the viewers out there. Clearly, this is what I meant when I said not so much.

That’s right: provocation. All the viewers. All in this case mainly being the ones who will be up at 3am in the morning, being outraged by what they are hearing and seeing and thinking. But mainly just thinking. And thinking…

Thinking too much, basically. So mainly people who have made a point of staying up to be outraged, then.

Finally, Lee concluded by pre-empting the backslash that Channel 4 would so obviously face, believing this to be because the Channel was paying more attention to a so-called ‘minority’ religion. Yes…that’s one way to look at it.

This would all be fine, sort of, in a way – well… – were he not to suggest that Muslims are in fact invested in some kind of alternative. An alternative to what, exactly? An alternative to every other religion there has ever been? Surely, in that case, everything is an alternative from something? It just all seemed a bit silly.

As far as Muslims being under-represented, presumably on TV – this seems fair enough on the surface, but then more than a bit strange when you think about it. I can completely understand Channel 4 wanting to represent Muslims by way of more committed TV coverage, etc, but you have to ask: why now? Why’s it taken them so long? After all, Islam isn’t exactly a new religion. From what I’ve heard, the BBC didn’t exactly do a stunning job of their comedy series Citizen Khan – which follows the exploits of a Muslim community leader – and were also about 50 years too late to take the hint, but still, at least they bothered. You can’t say that for too many channels. I do not foresee a Mosque appearing in Home & Away any time soon.

In any case, calling Islam a minority religion simply because a relatively small number of people in the UK belong to it is probably wrong – even if it is technically correct – especially when so many Islamic UK families have loved ones in other countries, and these things significantly overlap. The scope of Islam is large and wide, and orthodox Muslims put so much effort into their religion that, on the whole, it makes me feel very lazy. Not because I am jealous of their ability to have faith, but because…all that praying has got to wear you out.

By half-way into the article, I thought I’d got the main idea here: Channel 4 had decided that Islam was a good thing to attach themselves too, with the aim being that they’d piss an awful lot of people off, make a lot of people think and generally be at the centre of attention – just as they adore. Alongside the live calls to prayer – which would be happening at 3am for the entire Ramadan period – they’d be putting out a number of other shows during the month of fasting, beginning the 9th of July, as well as a special series of broadcasts on the very first day, set to interrupt normal programming schedule.

What happened in Woolwich had a lot to do with it, of course.

Then again, it’s far from being all questionable, even if the motives at work here seem a little one-sided. If Channel 4 want to put out a broad range of programmes which genuinely do help the public in general to understand what Islam is all about, I think that’s a brilliant idea. I say make as many programmes as you can, because I’m sure they will be interesting. I don’t think anyone can doubt that Channel 4 are at least capable of doing good documentaries.

Another thing to consider, if we’re talking those who are going unrepresented: what about the atheists and agnostics out there? The UK is made up of a vast number of people who very deliberately don’t follow any particular religion, or intend to at any time in the future. Surely if Channel 4 want to represent the minorities properly they would consider an entire month of programmes, documentaries and broadcasts about what it means to affirmatively choose not to believe? And I’m not talking about atheism versus religion – a subject which has been covered countless times. I mean covering atheism on its own, from the perspective of throwing away that word altogether. I’ve never much liked atheism as a word – mainly because it has its roots in being ungodly…something which may suggest that atheists are actively against any form of religion. Which is just not always true. God doesn’t always have to have something to do with it.

It’ll be intriguing to see how Channel 4s new concept will reveal itself as time goes on. I’m just not sure that deliberately starting a fire on their own door-step — and ours — is the best idea they could have had.