Oct 11, 2011

Fat Roland On Electronica: dramatic announcement

Woah there, pickle.

I only started taking my fiction writing seriously because the man from 330 Words saw some toothpaste at the Manchester Blog Awards and insisted I write a story about it.

Today's special commendation from the Manchester Fiction Prize is in some ways my proudest moment yet (see more on my fiction blog) and has placed a little solid nugget in my mind (probably made from chicken) that tells me yes I am a fiction writer and yes it's okay to make up stuff and call it "work". Thank you, little chicken nugget of wisdom.

Which leads me on to the announcement I had teased you with at the end of this post.

As I concentrate more on my fiction noodling, it's quite likely Fat Roland On Electronica will suffer. It has become the runt of my writing litter, albeit a cute runt with fabulous eyelashes. Which is a shame because Fat Roland Dot Com The Domain Name will be ten years old in February.

And so it only seems fair to show this website some love. It is my intention early next year to produce a book of this blog.

The paper-drizzled book version of this blog will be as in thrall to the cult of Aphex Twin as much as to the full horror of Justin Biebpipe. Scrawled in the pages within, you will find numerous giddy joys: selected writings from the blog itself beefed up by extensive footnotes written exclusively for the book; plenty of new blatherings about buffalo, music and kettles; original illustrations, by which I mean mad scribblings drawn with the ear wax of a cat; assorted lists, puzzles and other pointless distractions; and finally, a complete glossary of stupid terms so you too can sound intelligent about electronic music whilst secretly being a moron. 

If you are a publisher and you would like to publish this (ahem, hello publishers, AHEM), then get in touch. But in any case, it will happen and you will buy it. Right? Right?

This nuggety runt just got its game on.

The Tory tweets part two: Bring Your Pet To Conference Day

I find myself at the Tory party conference, which is very similar to a business conference except they know the business is bust and the man who runs the defence department has given all the revenue to his mates.

This is my ongoing story, told through tweets, of a wishy-lefty washy running a bookshop at a right-wing event. Surrounded, incidentally, by the Boris 'brand' everywhere. Click to read part one. This is part two. Stay tuned for part three.
"Another day of Tories. Yesterday can be summarised as a bunch of people in suits and bad hair that don't know please, thanks or excuse me. The founder of MORI delighted me with stories. And we had a 'gay Tory' event (no, really). One woman bought Mandelson's book because she wanted to 'understand evil'. She was in every way a spitting image of Margaret Thatcher."
"I have five book signings today at the conference, including the aforesaid Jeremy Paxman (who is actually lovely)."
With a busy day ahead, I was feeling quite confident. A bit like a Christian looking at a photograph of a kitten in the Colosseum and thinking, "oh THAT'S a lion."

In fact, let's stick with animal analogies, shall we?
"Everyone's much nicer today at the Tories. Yesterday was like wading through dead puppies. Well. I say everyone. Some people are nicer. Mainly the dead puppies because they're not being waded through any more. WHAT AM I SAYING? My brain's turning to Tory mush..."
"It's Bring Your Pet To Conference Day today at the Tory conference. A surprising number of blue animals. Like... um.... blue whales 'n' shit.
"Hey, stop tweeting me #dogfacts. I hate dogs. If I have to think about them *and* Tories, I may cry. I am having my lunch. The conference is affecting me. I have a headache and a growing dislike of minorities. (By 'minorities', I mean 'Tories in Manchester', obvs.)"
 It was a slow start to the day, hence...

"I am doing a poo at the Tory Conference. The first plop came out in the shape of Ann Widdecombe. Ooo, here's a second one. Jeffrey Archer. ...Vince Cable?! I have just laid a cable. A vince cable."
"Eek, David Davis is talking about lotion."
"Sorry I'm not replying to many tweets. I'm writing love poetry to David Cameron. What rhymes with 'nuzzle'?"
Muzzle, obviously.

My colleagues who had run set-up had nestled some Tony Benn books on the shelf, which by good fortune was in the exact place where cameras would film the book signings. And believe me, there were cameras everywhere. Events like this, whatever the party, is as much about media image as it is about motivating your troops.

I couldn't move without finding myself in someone's shot:

"I got stopped coming into the Tory conference for carrying coins. Of course I'm carrying coins. I'm selling books. Other items possibly considered dangerous at the Tory conference: clothes, hands, air."
"Oh crap, a TV camera has just filmed me. I'm sorry I said bad things about clothes and hands and air."
I even received tweets about being on the telly: "You're on the telly. And you're selling a book. Money has changed hands. Congratulations."
"The Graun have just interviewed me, wanting to know the successes (Kwasi Kwarteng) and turkeys (Assange). Oh dear."
In fact, some Tories couldn't cope with Kwasi Kwarteng. They don't like foreigners, you see. And Kwarteng is very foreign, being an Etonian, a Surrey MP and, oh hold on...
"Crikes. "Have you got that book by the man with a Korean name. Totally unpronounceable." That'll be Kwasi Kwarteng, then. So sheltered. This conference is one big head stuck in a big cloud."
Korea. West Africa. Eton. It's all the same. Bless.

Anyhoo, we did a signing with various MPs, including Kwasi (who I'm pretty sure is responsible for spilling coffee over one of my books, harrumph). The highlight, however, had to be Sir Paxman Of Newsnight who I had persuaded to do a last-minute book signing.

Boy, he was hard work. He withers in his spare time and, while always witty, personable and intelligent (I'd do another signing with him tomorrow if given the chance), his batteries still fire away when the rest of us have ground to a halt. His banter with the book-buying public was priceless.
"My book is so good, you should buy ten copies: some for your family and five or six for you. In fact, let's make it 15."

"I have one leg shorter than the other by about an inch and a half." 

"You want to go to Newcastle and be hung upside down? Yes, brilliant idea." 

"Are you going to tell me what underwear you're wearing?"

"The quotes earlier today were from the university challenged Sir Jezbo of Paxmania, all taken out of context from his book signing."
We ran out of books (understandable considering the signing wasn't planned) and so we had a little argument about that because Paxman was unhappy.

So I leave Part Two of this series with a couple of final tweets from the day.

Still to come is my attendance at an alarming fringe event and, as promised on my previous post, a truly scatalogical moment which represents more about the Tory party than even its critics would be prepared to accept. No, me having a poo further up this post wasn't it.

Oh and I must tell you how the Theresa May cat moment increased our sales.
"I managed to rile Jeremy Paxman today. I accept full responsibility if he's being more withering than normal with Boris on Newsnight!"

"My bookshop was on Newsnight, apparently. Hopefully it wasn't the bit when I was playing Twister with Michael Gove. (He has warm thighs.)"

Click to read part one. This is part two. Stay tuned for part three.

Oct 10, 2011

The Tory tweets part one: the moon rises in Uranus

When I was thrown into the jaws of the Tory party two years ago (with hilarious consequences), you'd think I wouldn't go back for more.

Yet, the moon rose in Uranus as the stars decided that this week I would meet tall, dark, be-suited, blue-badged strangers. Once more, I was their official bookseller.

Here is my Tory story in tweets. This is part one. Click to read part two.
"Right then, twums. Tomorrow, I will be at the Tory #cpc11 conference. Expect numerous bitter / sarcastic / funny tweets on Monday and Tuesday. I am warning you now so that you're ready for an increase in my tweeting and you're ready to be offended if you're a Tory. You're not a Tory, are you? Are you a hot Tory? Hot Tories confuse me. "
It has always been an ugly anachronism that the Tories choose to dump their annual shindig right in the middle of Manchester, mere yards from the site of the Battle of Peterloo in which the authorities mowed down poor workers and helped coalesce left wing protest for the next two hundred years. 
"Many people inside #cpc11 confused as to why people were shouting "Tory scum" at them today. Seriously. I must admit, it's confusing grammatically. I find all tautologies confusing grammatically. "

That didn't stop me, however, producing for them one of the best temporary political bookshops in the country for the four days they are camped in our beloved city. You have to remember that most people at the conference are not true blues, but are workers, media, other politicians and the like. It's just a good job I had Twitter through which to vent my rage.
"If you don't want to read me snotting on about Tories a lot, then unfollow me for a couple of days. Having said that, it's unlikely to be different from my normal snotting. Just a bit more frequent. I'm going to runny-nose your feed. 

"I should also point out I'll probably hit 1,000 followers today half way through me tweeting a complicated Eric Pickles sexual fantasy, This isn't going to be pretty. (Unlike Eric.)"
With my followers fully forewarned, I entered the conference to discover a much more professional affair than two years ago. This is the party of government, so no silly blue phone boxes or people dressed up in costumes this time.
I am at the Tory conference. It is everything I hoped for and more. They've upgraded the Gordon Brown pork pie stand to an Ed Miliband jerk chicken stand.

And here come the celebrities...
I've just breathed cheesy crisp breath into Jeremy Paxman's face. Don't think he noticed. I'll upgrade to prawn cocktail next time.

Paxman called me an incompetent bookseller.
Jeremy Paxman would become a key part of this year's bookshop. He (or his people) had decided not to do a book signing, so when he turned up to the shop, I managed to pin him down. He would do a signing. And it would be one of the most exhausting moments of the conference. More of that later.
Everyone who's everyone is here. There's a Tory with massive testicles (bad trousers). And there's Nick Robinson. 

Hitchens. *shudder* 

There are less shouty motivational posters this year. But Oliver Letwin's here with 'kill the poor' tattooed on his forehead, so that's OK. 
All of this is in good humour from a wishy-washy leftie. What could possibly go wrong? My job was to run a successful bookshop and I was going to succeed? Wasn't I?

My anti-Tory ire was barely beginning to bubble. And to make it worse, things were about to get somewhat scatological in one of the most illuminating, and disgusting, moments of the conference.#

This is part one. Click to read part two.