Death of a DJ

A poem by Antony Pickthall

In memory of Chris Copsey

The Church is heaving
Screens! Screens in church!
Nice touch
Everyone else in a tie
Black
He is the first
The first of the cousins to die
Apart from suddenly sounding like
A song by Morrissey
There is a point here
32 are now 31

I look around the loved up beams
Windows twinkling in a stain of colours
Feel the crafted pews through soft trousers
No graffiti to rub against
Ushers in uniform
Faces rapt
A smiling sea of love for Chris

There was nowhere else to go
The moment when Yvonne
Read, strong, controlled, a player
Then stumbled over the date
He left
Capturing the fatal charm
Of being everything
Everyone wanted you
To be
And more

As if you reached perfection
As a son
A husband
A father
A friend
Leaving the rest of us in the starting gate
Chewing on our bits
Feeling a dig
From our jockeys
Not daring to move

You flew
You pushed on and through
We looked
After
Or in my case
Turned my back to
Look the other way
A different way
To stay in the gate
To pass on the cries of the crowd

Only five years behind you
Feels like five lifetimes
The frost
The fire
The piece of wood I sit down on
To listen to your life
The connections
The jokes
The easy tone of comfort
And presence

Not that I listened
To your shows ever
My loss, clearly
300 people here
30,000 outside
In the air
We smile
As a younger colleague
Tests the water with
A more risqué
Nod to your gift
For companionship
Your easy mastery
Of the art of being
There
For everyone

Now they can’t retune
To seek
Your voice
Except, in their heads
And that’s the point
You will always be there, with
A cheesy tune that somehow
Feeds the line
Everyone needs
From time to time
Listening,
Wherever you are
In a state of perfection
Seriously
Professional

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My television experience includes a commission from Granada/Chanel 4.

I have been developing a sitcom and this is is now outlined for a first series and includes a pilot script. Contact me if you would like a read.

2020 Vampires on the Edge

TELEVISION

1991 SEEING IS BELIEVING

15 minute short-film, commissioned by Granada/Channel 4 for series of films
on the theme of lies. January 1991. Script completed but film not made.

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Writing a Novel

Just thought I would share with you my own disquiet about actually writing a novel.

Starting out again?

Maybe it’s just me, the satisfaction from writing short stories is infectious. I have attempted one before, a long time ago – before I abandoned it to write plays, having discovered that using plays to improve my ability to write dialogue was itself a call from the siren.

That novel never saw the light of day. I still have it somewhere. Handwritten and loosely tied together, probably with string. A friend read it but didn’t say very much. Very wise.

What is a novel?

So here I am forty years later revisiting the form. What is a novel? Is it dead? I am enjoying finding out. my theme and characters are working their magic, albeit slowly. I’ve already lost half of it once. That lazy, stupid habit of leaving a laptop on and not saving when you should. Or saving the file but foolishly letting the ones and zeros get corrupted. Luckily, I shared some of it and still had the email.

I started again, as you do. I picked up from where I had got to with the story when I shared it with a close friend, some two months before. Still annoyed with myself. All these years of reminding myself to save my work properly and in multiple places wasted.

And, we’re off!

So, at least I have passed the word count where I thought I had got to originally. But it is still confounding me. This long form danceathon. The story bites though, you’ll be glad to hear. Slowly, I am falling down rabbit holes of desire and injustice. What might not have actually been a novel is slowly proving itself to be that rare chiselled beast of narrative puzzle making. I am more like a sculptor, revealing a story somehow lost inside a vast block of unformed rock.

It’s fun too. Fun to find I am recognising stories that resonate with other people. I am pleasantly surprised. My disquiet about writing a novel should be set aside.

What do you think about the novel? If you have been reading my stories or those by another author, let me know what you think. You’l be glad to hear that the novel I am working on is different in every way, except for one – my love for a great story.

How about you?

What else are you reading at the moment? Feel free to share the books and authors you’ve found to help you, entertain you or inspire you through these dark days as we reel from pandemic and racism and the feeling that something has got to give.

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Screenplays

This is a list of screenwriting work involving commissions from independent producers and or directors.

TELEVISION/FILM

1987 A CLOSE SHAVE

A 30 minute film produced by Folgate Films, directed by Ray Kilby.

1991 SEEING IS BELIEVING

15 minute short-film, commissioned by Granada/Channel 4 for series of films
on the theme of lies. January 1991. Script completed but film not made.

1991 Film Treatment commission – FARINI – by an independent producer to write a treatment for a major film based on the life of a Canadian circus entrepreneur in Victorian London.

1996 For RAY KILBY, I produced a treatment for a full-length feature about Christopher Marlowe – MARLOWE – a fast-paced Elizabethan thriller, that follows up the probable evidence of Marlowe as a spy for the Elizabethan Government.

2019 THE MISHANTER.

Screenplay for a psychological horror film

2019 RIDERS ON THE TRAIL

Screenplay adapted from a travelogue about a cowboy obsessed Brit who successfully rides the old Outlaw Trail from New Mexico to Canada in the late 1990’s.

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Plays for Theatre and Radio

The following are plays that have been either commissioned and performed or simply written and available to perform. You may not be aware that writers ear money from commission fees and royalties. Plays already commissioned and performed are available to perform for a royalty based on the box office. There are minimum terms for both commissions and royalties.

1987 SOFT

An uncompromising, hard-hitting story of a couple who kill their newly-born Downs Syndrome baby and how they cope with the pressures of society, family and their own responsibility.

Workshopped by North West Playwrights, Contact Theatre July 1987.

1988 ALL HEADS TURN (AS THE HUNT GOES BY)

An epic play that explores the last few years of the life of the poet and playwright, Christopher Marlowe. A gallery of characters, from fellow writers, noble patrons, Court spies and the Queen are brought to life by the murdered Marlowe, still scared of what he will face in his after-life.

1989 ALL HEADS TURN produced by Chester based AFTERIMAGE.

Toured to Grange Theatre, Oldham; Studio, Theatr Clwyd;  Studio, Chester Gateway Theatre; Chester College. March 1989.

1990 VENICE ROTTING

A love affair that seeks a home, a sexuality that seeks an understanding and a board game that seeks a market. Three desires clash and whittle each other to the core in late 80’s London.

1990 SPACE

The near future. A couple, both space professionals, are re-united after five years of separation. Drusilla, a commander of a Deep Space Voyage is, so it seems, sole survivor of fifty crew. Mudchute, her partner, is in charge of finding out what happened. What he is confronted with onboard the orbiting space station, tests his capacity for life. Can the Drusilla he meets now, be worse than the dead lover he has mourned for the past five years? Is his job capable of helping? What is his job?

Produced in a workshop production by Birmingham University Drama Dept. as part of the MA in Playwriting. July 1990.

1993 BATH PARTY 

A one act play, about two teenage girls who break into a bathroom and decide to hold the wildest party they can possibly imagine. The play deals with issues of rebellion, bullying, anorexia, bulimia and the power of the imagination.

The play was commissioned and performed by St. Andrews Youth Theatre , directed by Catriona Macphie at the Byre Theatre, St. Andrews, January 27-30. 

1997 CATCH THE PIGEON! 

A play about, Ivan, a sixteen year old, who suddenly finds he has left school and home and struggles with the reality of his descent into petty crime. His only support comes from two of his favourite cartoon characters who appear to him to have come alive. Only, he doesn’t want them to, he wants real love and help. But it doesn’t come to save him in time. 

Produced by Impetus Theatre, December 2-14 1997 at the Duke of Cambridge Pub Theatre, London NW5, directed by Stephen Wrentmore.

2001 TEACH YOURSELF BOLLOCKS

’30 something’ Richard Kent pin-points the moments he lost ‘the dream’ and points the finger. Optioned by Sgript Cymru, Cardiff – the new national writing company for Wales.

2005 CRUD

A play about farmers in contemporary Ceredigion – research phase funded by Arts Council of Wales.

2006 THE STUNNING FLIGHT OF ARCHIBALD BONE

A play about a 19th Century inventor who dreams of being able to fly.

Produced by Lupa Theatre Co (Wales). and BDNC Theatre Co. (Ireland) in November 2006. The play was part of a double-bill, HANG-GLIDING that toured to The Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Theatr Gwynedd, Bangor and Chapter, Cardiff.

Performance

1994      MUSTER

Text for a dance theatre piece for Gary Carter & Company and performed at the ICA as part of the Acts of Faith Season of new work for the theatre. MUSTER was based on Chekhov’s Three Sisters.

2001 SOME VOICES ARE HEARD THIS NIGHT

A solo piece performed in a disused stable in St. Dogmael’s, Cardigan. Evoking images of captivity, isolation and despair a single performer connects with the stable’s former animal inhabitants, the lives of the farming community and our need to make sense of change.

Performed as part of OINTMENT, curated by Simon Whitehead and performed by Daniel Rebeck at Parc Y Pratt Farm on February 27

2006 CATS LIKE CHEESE

Stand up comedy show performed at Venue 13 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Radio

1989     A PEST IN THE FAMILY

A play about two sisters, one educated privately, the other not. About jealousy and the difficulty of finding out who you are.

1991     MAKING HEIGHT  – OR The Construction of the Seat of One Benjamin Apsey, MP

Set just before and during 1752, Making Height charts the attempts of a man new to wealth, who tries to build his own country house. But it all conspires against him – as history often does – when the sister of a local landowner and schoolboy friend successfully prevents the collapse of her own family fortune by turning to robbery and violence, and not a little pretended love. What emerges is a powerful story of the hidden history behind the building of an Eighteenth Century country house.

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Are you ready for Stay With Me?

Not long to wait until my first collection of short stories is available on Amazon. Check out my author page

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Stay With Me takes you from the macabre to the fantastic, highlighting the incremental changes in disparate lives. Each character navigates changing worlds, circumstances and memories. Compelling, strange and heartfelt, Stay With Me brings together the best of a darkly humorous mind.

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