Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2008 - A Review

I’m not one for sending out Round Robins, but after the year I’ve had, it was time I just started to take stock a little: a year of high highs and deep lows really.

The year started with the death of my Mother (well, technically 30th December 2007), but most of January was taken up with the funeral [MINUS] and the rest of the year taken up with clearing out the family house.

O.K., so now, after probate, I get the house [PLUS]…which was then followed, mid-year, by the credit crunch, the general collapse of finances around the world and about a 20% loss of value in the property [MINUS].

In May, in the same week saw the break-up of a (16 month) long-term relationship [MINUS] and my visit to the Doctor when I decided to quit smoking [PLUS]. As Lloyd Bridges said in the movie Airplane: “Looks like I picked I fine week to quit smoking!”

At least I could concentrate my mind by working on updating and expanding my book Teach Yourself Screenwriting (May-August).

The main benefit from quitting the fags was not the health stuff (boring boring) but the money saved, which meant I could replenish my hat collection and buy a couple of new suits [PLUS].

And spurred on by a friend of mine in Los Angeles (born on exactly the same day and year as me) with has his own musical outfit playing 1920s-styled music, I started writing song lyrics again [PLUS] - the last lyrics I wrote were in the early 1980s. So I started venting my spleen in rhyme, sent them over to him to add the music and he acclaimed them as “works of genius”. So I believe he’s about to start recording his group’s second CD.

Then September came the accident [MINUS] and I ended up in hospital, then on crutches and using a walking cane for over three months. At least it did lead to me starting what is now growing into a rather splendid collection of antique walking canes [PLUS]. Having seen the physiotherapist at the local hospital a couple of times, I’ve now started walking without a stick. As he said “a lot of it is down to getting your confidence back in that leg and using it without thinking about it”.

The trouble with leg meant that my plans for everything were put back about ten weeks [MINUS]. Everything was either scrapped or delayed: the intended Christmas in New York, the house clearance (and plans for renting it out).

I never take a great photo, but some of the photographs taken of me at events during the year have been rather splendid and garnered some very positive and pleasing comments, especially the Victorian ones taken at the New Sheridan Club’s Christmas party [PLUS].

And in November the new edition of my long-established best-selling tome Teach Yourself Screenwriting hit the UK book stores [PLUS] - initial Sales figures are very encouraging…at least we got it in the shops in time for Christmas. 2009 sees its release to the rest of the globe (USA in February, I believe…perhaps I should go over there on a promotional tour…).

At least AC/DC managed to keep High School Musical off the top of the album charts.

That’s about it - 2008 in a nutshell. And considering everyone I know across the globe has had a pretty shitty year themselves, for me, on balance, I guess it was: a score-draw.

Conclusion? / Resolution for 2009: Things can only get better.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

I got BANNED from Woolworths - an hour before they shut their doors for good!

This bizarre story starts about three weeks ago, when Woolworths announced they were going into Administration and were selling everything off.

In my local High Street store, on their CD racks, there were four sets of sleevs, each for a 3-CD set called “The Weekend Starts Here” (yes, choc-full of Mod classics from the 60s). On the shelf it was priced at £7. I took the cover to the Woolworths counter and, after much searching (there were at least four sets in the drawer), she scanned it and…it came up as £14.99.

I pointed out that it was £7 on the shelf, so we both trudged up the aisles to the shelf where the display was. She then bent down, took the £7 sticker off the shelf and said “that was last week’s price”. So I refused to pay the higher price and left the store.

Then last Friday, this particular branch was on its last day and now the reductions were 50%, so I was finally going to get what I wanted at the price I wanted.

Or was I?

I went in and took the one remaining CD cover to the counter and said to the rather sullen looking Neanderthal youth behind the counter “You’ll probably find it in that drawer there, listed under W”. He then turned his back on me and proceeded to finger through the DVDs drawer.

I said “Did you hear what I said? It’s a CD set. You’ll probably find it in that drawer…etc”. So he turned and gave me one threatening look. He aimlessly dawdled through the drawer and then said “Can’t find it”. I took him to task and he replied, in a very rude tone: “Well, we ain’t go’ it, ‘ave we?”.

So I left the counter and decided to tackle the Under-Assistant manageress, a tiny lady who for the last three or so years (I’ve observed) has been nurturing increasingly large chips on both shoulders. I explained the situation, particularly about the rudeness of the assistant. - And her witty ripost?: “If we ain’t got it, we ain’t got it, so there“.

I just replied “Well if that’s your idea of good Customer Service, maybe your company deserves to go to the wall and you lose your jobs”.

“Right. Get out of my store”, she commanded.

I just burst out laughing.

Perhaps this offended the little bossy-boots and she threatened to have me escorted off the premises. But I just exited.

As I left the store, a member of staff was on her mobile, trying to find out exactly when that store did close its doors that day. She discovered it was…in an hour.

There’s a triple-irony here:
(i) the very next day I went to the Woolworths in Romford (the nearest large town to us), which was still open, and I got the very CD set I wanted…at £7. So there!

(ii) on the Sunday I happened to be on the radio that morning and mentioned this story. The texts came flooding in, all supporting me.

(iii) since that radio mention, I’ve been stopped three times on my local High Street, with the words “Ray, what’s this about you being banned from Woolworths”. It seems I’ve become a bit of a local hero for everyone in the area who’s ever had a bad experience with the stroppy staff at that Woolworths in Barkingside.

I believe they call it Karma.

(And a Merry Christmas to you!)

Monday, 22 December 2008

It's Christmas!!!!

As we head for the holiday season, I would just like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas: to all those who have responded to my blogs, to those who supported me through some difficult times this year (you know who you are), to the handful of truly good friends I have and to those who have bought (and read) the new book. Thank you.

I hope you have a truly fantastic Yuletide, spent with the people around you that matter in this world: family and friends.

Back soon.

Ray Frensham

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Do Cufflinks come in Different Sizes?

So there I was today in Marks & Spencer (in, browsing the shelves to fill up my knicker-drawer for Christmas, and I get stopped by these two young late-teenage Chav(ish) looking young girls looking rather perplexed.

“Excuse me”, they said, “can we ask you a question ?”

Oh madam, you may ask me anything, but my heart belongs to…Me [I thought]. But I acquiesced.

And then came what was (for me) the Question of the Year, they asked: “Do cufflinks come in different sizes?”.

I was a little taken aback but I managed to stumble a reply “Er…no. They’re all the same size".

It seems these two young charmers were searching for a pair for a solicitor (lawyer). [Please, gentlemen at the back, refrain from suggesting “did he see these two through their first court case?”].

Anyway, I managed to steer them away from their natural inclinations to buy Bling and helped them choose an appropriate pair: a circular silver pair with inlaid faux-mother-of-pearl. At least they didn’t regard the pair as “minging” or “gay” (the unfortunate modern vernacular, I’m afraid).

But we met again at the check-out and they seemed to be very happy with their purchase. I felt I had sent them off with a good parting shot: “A shirt isn’t a proper shirt unless it has cufflinks on it”.

So that was my good deed done for the day. Like showing an old lady across the road.

…Do cufflinks come in different sizes?…….dear oh dear!