Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Would You Adam and Eve It?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dear Early Learning Centre...

Dear Early Learning Centre

My son loves playing with his Early Learning Centre Noah’s ark set. Well done on pursuing that religious angle in these increasingly secular days! He is only 19 months old, but I have already explained to him how this toy celebrates the death of everyone on earth bar one family. He loves it! I expect that in years to come there will be some awkward questions about how big the ark would have had to have been, how Noah could have stopped the carnivores eating the herbivores, and how he could have saved the humble woodworm at all without the Ark ending up looking like Swiss cheese. But for now we are just having fun playing!

I do have one question for you though: I am not David Attenborough or anything, but even I can see that in your ark Noah has quite clearly saved two male lions. Look – they both have manes:

The lion is perhaps the species in which it is easiest to differentiate between the male and the female. It’s not like it’s one of those penguins that even zookeepers can’t tell apart unless they’ve got one anaesthetised in an operating theatre. I thought perhaps that there had been a mistake at the factory and that somewhere else in the country another small child was playing with a Noah’s ark containing two lionesses. But no, the picture on the box clearly shows two male lions:

Are these lions gay? Because I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you what the Bible thinks about that. (It’s actually a bit contradictory – vacillating between loving everyone and stoning them to death with little middle ground along the lines of “I quite like Graham Norton in small doses and what they all do behind closed doors is up to them”.) But more importantly, how was Noah planning on continuing the world's population of lions with a couple of bummers? Was he going to try cloning them? Because I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you what the Bible thinks about that. (It actually doesn’t mention it, unless it’s buried amongst all those rules in Leviticus about not wearing clothes made from different materials or planting different crops next to each other. The closest I can find is “Do not mate different kinds of animals” (Leviticus 19:18), which is kind of the exact opposite of cloning, so maybe God is in favour of it? I don’t know, but it’s a moot point anyway, as it's doubtful the technology would have been available to Noah, whose main area of expertise was carpentry.)

One more question: what kind of animal are these? The box just lists the contents as a rather non-specific “12 x animal shapes”.

Like I said, I’m not David Attenborough or anything, but given that the other animals on what I am increasingly beginning to believe was just a floating fairy tale are lions, elephants, giraffes, camels and rhinoceroses, I was expecting something a 19-month old would be able to instantly recognise. We think they look like guinea pigs, but they’re the same size as the rhinos! Maybe if you made guinea pigs to scale they would represent a choking hazard, but at their current dimensions I think they will scare my son when it comes to choosing his first pet. If you’re looking for another animal with a distinctive silhouette, what about the kangaroo? (Though this might throw up a few awkward questions about Australia not having been discovered at the time of the Great Flood.)

Yours, for the time being, faithfully

Mr S Vincent

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Signs That Work May Be Taking Over My Life #1

Working from home in a job that I love in an industry in which most of my friends also work means that it can be difficult to switch off. Combine this with the mostly welcome freelancer’s dilemma of never wanting to turn work down and I have been busy. In particular I have been working weekends on one project which is about to start filming, bringing a flurry of phone calls about last-minute legal issues and cast and location changes, necessitating some very hurried rewrites.

In short, my work/life ratio has been as unbalanced as John Prescott on a see-saw, but I finally managed to take some time off at Easter and see my niece, who has learnt some jokes:

MY 4-YEAR-OLD NIECE: What do you get if you pour hot water down a rabbit hole?

ME: I don’t know. (Although I did, really.)

MY 4-YEAR-OLD NIECE: A hot cross bunny.

ME: (Laughs) Very good. (Pause) Though maybe you shouldn’t use the word ‘hot’ in the feedline as you repeat it in the punchline. I don’t know what you could use instead though. ‘Boiling’ would be too cruel to the rabbit, ‘warm’ isn’t hot enough and ‘heated’ is just too laborious. It’s a shame there isn’t an exact synonym for hot. Maybe it shouldn’t be water at all ...

MY 4-YEAR-OLD NIECE: I’m going to go and eat some chocolate now.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

I am on my way to a meeting. For once I am driving as the studio I am visiting is some way from public transport. They know that I am driving and should have booked me a space.

It's for a show I've worked on before, but for this series there have been budget cuts which means a slight reduction in my pay. Not great, but it's fun work and at least they're going to pay me and not go into administration owing me money. I hope.

When I get there I go straight to the main car park. Unfortunately the man at the barrier knows nothing about my visit and suggests I try the main reception. At the front of the studio are a few spaces, but they are all reserved for bigwigs and head honchos so I just park at an awkward angle in a place that is obviously not meant to be parked in and nip into reception.

There I tell them that I should have a car parking space booked and the lovely lady confirms that that's correct and it should be right out the front with my name on it, ie one of the spaces I had driven past, assuming they were for the important people whilst us plebs had to go round the back and take our chances in a numbered spot.

I drive back round and there it is - a car parking space with my name on it. I am a head honcho! I am a bigwig! I have arrived! (albeit in a second-hand Ford Focus that smells a bit of sick). I park and go into my meeting where the first thing I am asked is whether I got my car parking space OK. I say yes, and relate the whole "driving past it thinking I wasn't important enough to get a car parking space with my name on it" story and we all have a laugh.

As the meeting progresses I realise what they are up to though: they think that they can get away with paying me less by giving me something that doesn't actually cost them anything - a car parking space with my name on it. And if they think they can get away with paying me less by giving me a car parking space with my name on it they are dead right. It is brilliant! A car parking space with my name on it!

I imagine it is like the first time you fly first class - once you have seen how the other half park you can never go back. I won't be able to drive to Tesco ever again unless next to the disabled and parent and baby spaces there is a special space just for me. With my name on it. I will settle for nothing less now.

And I will be telling my agent that the requirement of a car parking space with my name on it must be written into all my contracts from now on. Even the ones where I arrive by tube. In fact, especially the ones where I arrive by tube.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Every Little Helps


Two Employees glumly inspect their sales figures.

Have you noticed that sales of chocolate logs are a bit, well, seasonal?

Yes. Yes, I had noticed that. We seem to sell a lot in December, but then the rest of the year is empty and we end up having to throw quite a lot of chocolate logs away.

Perhaps we could diversify and make some other kind of cake or confectionary item?

But I only know how to make chocolate logs.

Really? They’re just chocolate Swiss rolls, covered in chocolate. Are you sure you can’t adapt the recipe and make something else?

No. It’s chocolate logs or nothing.

But we’re going to go out of business.

Maybe we can persuade people to buy chocolate logs at other times of the year?

How? They are a completely Christmassy item. They are as Christmassy as crackers, baubles and tinsel.

They sit in silence for a moment.

What about an Easter Chocolate Log?


Like most people I don’t have a clue where the chocolate rabbits fit into the crucifixion/resurrection scenario, but this is just a bit silly, isn’t it? However, I’m look forward to Father’s Day mince pies.