Some Highlights from 2015 – Part One
I began my Year of Drawing. To start with it was a New Year’s Resolution. I wanted to bring some colour back into my life. I wanted to do something without words. I started by drawing the wrecked house around me. Then, as gloomy January went on, I started venturing outside and drawing everything I could see locally.
I started drawing Levenshulme, our little corner of south Manchester. I had my hair cut at Tony’s barber’s and stayed a while afterwards, drawing the next customer getting his hair clipped and all the barbering paraphernalia. When that picture got a big response on the local Facebook group, Levy Massive, I started getting asked to visit all kinds of nearby places and to draw them. So I sat by the side of Levenshulme swimming baths, and in the Shine hair salon and in the church painting light coming through stained glass, and the window of Bridgette’s the Florist’s, and the re-opening night for Pod Café Bar.
But I was sill writing, of course. I had two big commissions for Big Finish. I wrote a two hour long script for Peter Davison’s Doctor Who, ‘The Peterloo Massacre’, which is released on CD and download next March. I also wrote an episode of ‘The Avengers’ called ‘The Golden Dresses’ for the audio series about Steed and Mrs Peel. Both scripts took about three or fourth months to complete altogether, but March was really the most intense time for scripting and redrafting.
After posting my drawings online people surprised me by asking for prints and cards. And Fred’s Ale House in Levenshulme surprised me most of all, by asking if I’d like to put on a small exhibition of my pictures. They made me a wonderful poster and got Wendy and her new catering company ‘Life of Pie’ to put on a splendid buffet, and they invited everyone to come and see. There were speeches and pints and laughter and the whole thing was just great.
I was invited to talk at the Hay-on-Wye Book Festival for the first time. It felt like the sun was shining for the first time in 2015 as we drove down south playing the album from this year’s Eurovision. The whole thing was a lot of fun. As were the other festivals I went to this year – Cardiff in March, and Edinburgh in August. They all looked after me, and a fuss was made over May’s publication, by the wonderful Firefly, of my SF novel for kids and Young Adults, ‘Lost on Mars.’
In June I was part of an award-winning team! Simon Barnard’s company Bafflegab Productions won a New York Radio Award! ‘Bat out of Hull’, the second episode of our ‘Brenda and Effie Mysteries’ series won GOLD for being the BEST AUDIOBOOK IN THE WORLD! We were chuffed as muck and completely amazed. Although, of course, it is a fabulous series. We shouldn’t have been surprised at all. The four episodes were released on audio download in the early part of 2015 and starred Anne Reid as both Brenda and Effie.
It’s little bits of heaven like that – like Brenda coming back to life in New York and winning a prize, or pictures going up on the wall and people being nice about them, and buying the original paintings I’d started exhibiting, by June, at Pod Café bar, that makes all the trickier stuff in life (and there was plenty!) dealable with.
Part Two follows soon!