Janey's Blogs - July 2011
Friday the 1st of July 2011
I have discovered and much to my own annoyance that people don't want my opinion. Who knew? Not me. Standing last week in a bookshop (my favourite place) I offered to give a rundown of what books are good to read to a woman standing staring at the shelves. You see, always travelling or being bored or being married for 30 years I find reading lots of books helps me to stop killing the people who I live with.
This apparently doesn't pass as a reading expert – as the woman who told me to shut up proved. Therefore my point is, we might think what we have to say is riveting but most times it's flawed or unwanted.
Celebrated journalist and former Iraq War supporter (what a screwy mistake that was) Johann Hari who writes for The Independent newspaper in the UK got caught plagiarising other people's words and opinions (not mine – clearly or the Iraq War piece would have read differently) and he had to serve up a big apology which wasn't really an apology, just an explanation of why he did it- a bit like my cousin saying I stole your purse coz I wanted booze.
Hari faced a cluster of fresh copying allegations on Wednesday, as bloggers uncovered several examples of where the Orwell prize-winning writer appeared to have inserted quotes into interviews that looked to have come from elsewhere. (I plagiarized this from Guardian writer Dan Sabbagh in the spirit of this article - but defeated the purpose by explaining who wrote it, which makes me a better, more honest writer that Johann Hari)
The world of Twitter went into meltdown as a bunch of other smug journalists went on a rampage of abuse as Hari was self flagellating on his column about his apparent 'mistakes'.
Which brings me back to me to the bookstore incident and back to the woman who told me to shut up as “you are just reading what it says on the back cover: that's not your opinion, that's other peoples words” although I did offer up my synopsis, with finger puppet theatre, noises and funny voices – She still wasn't interested, she stomped off on search of a manager to get me thrown out of the Richard and Judy book corner.
Two things here. Don't tell things you find interesting to folk you have never met before and always make sure it's original if you do, as random strangers are picky about those details. As were the public over the Johann Hari incident.
Talking about plagiarism, it's a risky business and in comedy it's difficult to prove. There have been recent incidents with comedians having big hissy fits and quite rightly so over complete newbies getting up on TV talent shows across the globe and ripping off club comics' material. It's also known in the business that TV writers go round the clubs and 'lift material' for their latest project. Poor comics know nowt until they hear their prized funny material coming out of the gob of a 'comic actor' in a TV sitcom or TV stand up show!
The worst case recently was Jim Tavare's unique musical act allegedly being duplicated right down from his musical style to his bald head by an so called impersonator. I won't name him but you can see it all if you Google Jim Tavare and read his blog, then make your own decision.
The problem with plagiarism in comedy is that other people CAN think of stuff like you and do it onstage. Nothing really is unique and it's hard to prove. Single subject topics cannot be exclusive to one comedian - imagine male wanking stories were only allowed to be allotted to one boy comic? Imagine only one person was allowed to talk about being fat or working an iPhone? The circuit would die. But when you blatantly rip off a comic's routine word for word or their entire image and genre of comedy then you are a tit and will be shamed on the internet, especially if you do it on live TV like would-be Aussie comic Jordan Paris did last week and was slammed when he tried his own material and died on his stupid ass. You really do need other people's material if you are a really bad comic like him though.
Besides plagiarism, I wanted to mention my recent TV appearance on BBC TV defending the Palestinians and railing against the Israelis. Now I know a 20 minute public debate with me getting shouty won't solve anything but the level of emails from Israeli people threatening and screaming at me has been quite annoying and to that man that shouted at me in the Glasgow I Cafe - screw you mate. It's an illegal occupation or, as I like to call it, plagiarising a land – now leave me alone. I am off to write a new book about a girl who sells matches in her bare feet in London around the time Oliver lived; it's going to be a cracking best seller.
Monday the 18th of July 2011
That’s where I am right now as I write this blog- sitting in a sun drenched lounge on Salt Spring Island. If you know your American TV drama’s then this place looks like a cross between Everwood and The Gilmore Girls, it’s a small town by the bay. We had to get a ferry from Vancouver and they have no real internal bus service, so you have to hitchhike everywhere!
My mate Sarah who is our host lives in a tiny settling near Vesuvius harbour with two small dogs of complete opposite personalities, they are funny as hell. Her grandparents built this place back in the 50s and it’s like a proper pioneer wooden slated house, it’s amazing. The nearest town is Ganges (where did these odd names come from?) and it’s so cute, the island has a Mormon church built by an aging rock star but no Mormons and the other church shares its faiths under one roof. The people stop to pick you up and they have wee huts that sell jam, beef and other stuff at the side of the road. You take the wares and they trust you to deposit the cash faithfully. They have a harbour with amazing seafood shops and the sun shines brightly on the island where nobody locks their doors or cars! Being a fast city dweller I feel oddly corrupt and evil as I constantly check where my handbag is.
The cinema is a small church and my mate operates the movies their occasionally, it literally is like something out of a TV show....I can’t believe how genuinely nice everyone is. I keep expecting some devil worshiping to be uncovered or some secret drug ring within the aging community of smiling deer petters, how can all of these people be so cool? They drive ancient old cars which make it feel more like we have invaded an old TV set and even the young teen’s wave hello as they sit in the park by the bay. I need evil angry folk to make me feel am alive and doesn’t that show you how fucked up and shallow I am?
To keep us occupied in this utopia of wild life and happiness Ashley and I have started to create back stories and fake lives for the people we meet. You know that Old Dutch bloke with the sausage dog and funny accent? He is a Nazi on the run from his old life...you know the hippy bloke who sings songs outside the ice cream parlour? He is a former FBI investigator whose brain got fried for asking too many questions about the Iraq War now he makes wooden sparkle twisty tubes that he claims he invented and holds them up to your eyes and they dazzle you in the sunlight as he plays a didgeridoo. You know the dashing sea captain who drives round the harbour he was a bad boy from New York who started Club 54 and used to date Bianca Jagger before the mob got to him and he laundered dirty money, now he catches crab in Canada. Of course none of this is true; it’s just us making up stuff to make us happy.
There are deer running wild outside our door and the beach with sunsets each night to dazzle the brain and two funny dogs who alternate between sedate and mental and Ashley and I cannot be happier....why didn’t we know about this place before? Who decided Salt Spring Island would be a secret? You can canoe round the bay, you can hike, you can go crabbing, sit on the beach, eat in great restaurants and visit great art studios on one island with the sun beating down....why didn’t we all know about this before you all went and spent money on Ibiza and Caribbean islands?
Ashley and I have had to slow our pace down and get used to NOT screaming when a deer comes running out of the hedge and sniffs at you, we need to also accept every time someone says “Aw we love the fawns” they do not mean Henry Winkler. We need to stop flapping when baby rabbits come out like a carpet of bouncy fur and nearly knock you on your ass trying to avoid stepping on them. We also need to stop screaming at big giant birds that come down to stare at us as we walk on the road hitch hiking. We are living in a DISNEY movie and all that wild life is scary when its real and basically you are getting in its way.
I will never recover from the look of disgust when a big deer stared at me as I yelped at her appearance and her baby deer got a fright at my stupid noisy mouth. I am sure even my accent bewildered her. I don’t know the protocol of where to walk to the let the deer past, they trot like snooty Kensington mothers who have encountered someone eating chips in the street.
The two weeks I have been here have been magical; I even did a comedy gig at the Local Pub, now get this in the middle of the show the local police walked in and nobody batted an eyelid. I have never had the police crash a gig, not even in the boondocks of roughest Glasgow; I had to come to the isle of hippies to have that happen. The audience didn’t even look at the policeman except to nod and say “Hi Steve how’s your mom?” The show went great and the folk from Salt Spring loved having a comedian for the night.
Ashley meanwhile went to a summer party on a farm and got up to rap with an Aussie band called The Deckchairs who were playing for the night, and then she sat round a campfire and toasted marshmallows with the kids. Seriously this place is like a Disney movie.
My mate Sarah has two wee dogs Lakeland terriers called Parker and Abbey, Parker is calm and funny like an old man and Abbey the girl is just a mental blur and they have been a joy to be around. I will miss them so much and there will be tears when we leave those faces behind. Sarah who has been amazing to give us such a place to stay, I will be in her debt forever.
Though she did play a funny trick on Ashley and I, she and Arnie the local crab boat owner got us up early to go to Chocolate Island (there is no chocolate, in fact there is NOTHING on this small island...in fact that might even be a made up name) they told us it was awesome with nice shops and they dropped us off on the tiny beach which was made up of sharp broken shells in their millions. That was hell to walk on with wet boat feet. Ashley and I walked up the hill to find the imaginary coffee shop and all we could hear was “Grrroowwl” convinced that we had stumbled on a bear; we ran downhill falling into small divots and twisted our ankles on big stones. We bumped into two hippies who had canoes and were packing up to leave; they laughed their asses off listening to our hunt for coffee shops on the deserted island of broken shells. To make things worse Ashley had stomach pain and we started wondering how we would survive on a deserted island, it became clear that I was to fashion a boat or kill a hippy to steal his boat and swim to shore, as Ashley slept on a big flat driftwood log. Soon Arnie and Sarah came back and howled with laughter and took us away from ‘Broken Shell like Broken Glass Island’.
So with a million insect bites (Ashley has none) and a new heap of friends under our belts it’s with a heavy heart that we start to pack up and go home. I will miss this quaint, funny and extremely peaceful island where nobody locks cars and lost phones are returned to owners and the two lone taxi drivers know everyone’s names and the smell of patchouli isn’t far from your nostril....I will be back Salt Spring and this time for longer.