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I’ve been in such a strange mood all day, without really being able to figure out why. I’m struggling to articulate the feeling; almost wistful, but not quite, and over absolutely nothing. It rendered me unable to even contemplate writing, which was my agenda for the day. Hmm… what to do?

I gave the oven an overdue clean, but that failed to stir up any sense of achievement. Then, I watched The Three Doctors followed by Arc of Infinity, but neither were able to distract me, and not just because they were both a bit rubbish. As evening descended, I tended towards Morgan’s Spiced Rum, followed by Triple Sec, Morgan’s Spiced Rum and Triple Sec with Coke*, and a desperate snifter of Peach Schnapps to quell the malaise. It barely touched the sides.

Ultimately, the only action that managed to lift my spirits was sitting in the garden, in the gushing rain, listening to Teen Dream by Beach House (10 Mile Stereo, twice). Deep exhalation, music booming through headphones, rain pounding. So, unexplained disquiet, eventually vanquished. At least it dispels my own personal trope that I have to be gloomy to write, so that’s a positive lesson.

Actually, I don’t know whether it is due to my improved demeanour or because I’m a bit tipsy, but The Caves of Androzani is pretty damn good so far. Well, apart from the guy in the gimp mask. Now there’s a cheap-looking armadillo monster. Maybe I spoke too soon.

* I blame Nic for this. I do well to avoid drinking Coke since it is a nasty, body-shocking concoction, but my efforts usually consist of little more than not buying it, which is easy. However, Nic came home with two six-packs of Coke, and when it is in the house I find it very difficult not to partake.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

  • Causality (hornfingerproductions.wordpress.com)
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Opposition Risen

The swollen scar tissue in my throat has been replaced by a sharp stabbing sensation in my upper palette, just to the (stage) left of my uvula. It hurts, so much so that it almost ruined the slow-roasted lamb and sweet potato curry I spent half the day crafting. I say almost since it would have taken an anaesthetic-less vasectomy to spoil such a culinary tour de force.

Today is the Twentieth anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog. Apart from it being the five-hundredth thing that has made me feel old this month, I accidentally learned that I am the most natural Sonic the Hedgehog Master in the World, ever. I determined this ego-boosting fact (and it is a fact, which I will shortly demonstrate) while reading a thread on Reddit dedicated to SEGA’s blue mascot. I noticed repeated references to a segment of Sonic the Hedgehog 3‘s Carnival Night Zone, more specifically, they rued the bit with the barrel. One poster claimed that it took him days to conquer this devilish cylinder, while another confessed that they stopped playing the game altogether at this point, so difficult it is.

I vaguely recalled a series of barrels that needed to be traversed to progress, but I had to search YouTube to find the section in question. That bit? Really? I pissed that bit, without even a shrug. Instead of assuming that this collection of mewling thumb-bumblers were merely incompetent, I took it as irrefutable evidence that I am the greatest gamer who ever privileged a joypad with the touch of my digits. I feel confident in my assertion right now, though I did find the Mario All-Stars cartridge so may well tumble from my lofty pedestal with shocking precipitation.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

Corridor

As narratives go, this one was painfully predictable: the day after I decide to continue writing this blog I have nothing to write. I’m even unable to fabricate a vaguely interesting lie that I can pass off as today’s event, in two hundred words or more. Bone dry. Nothing. Allow me to recount my day in order to demonstrate what I mean:

I walked up to Beech Road – Chorlton’s supposed centre of Bohemia – this afternoon. It was quite nice, but hardly as trendy as billed. It is also very short and the majority of the pedestrians were walking dogs. I don’t like dogs. I had a San Miguel at a little tapas bar, bought some ginger from a grocers that almost exclusively stocks spoiled fruit and vegetables (apart from the ginger, of course – my initial reason for entering was to buy mushrooms), and had a bite to eat in a wonderful Thai restaurant called Thai Spice. I returned home to rest shortly after.

During my downtime, I had a gander at the Beech road website. It advertises every shop, bar, and restaurant in the locality, apart from the terrible grocers. I laughed.

Actually, that wasn’t so bad. I’ve written worse.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

Anniversary

Well, we got there. At times (i.e. most of the time) I doubted I would make it to this point alive, but here we are: today marks one whole year of daily blog posts*, and with it a decision as to the future of The Blank Page. The problem is, I still haven’t decided. Apologies to those who were eagerly anticipating such news (likely praying for a swift death). So, yeah, I don’t really know what to do.

In the absence of a conclusion I’m going to continue until I either run out of words entirely (though I suspect that occurred… ooh, about twelve months ago) or the blog organically evolves into a more appealing, sustainable, and structured form. I have veered from the dizzying highs of averaging thirty-three hits-a-day just two weeks ago to getting a depressing three views so far today. Since I perversely enjoy wallowing in my own misery, I will not rest until my readership has dwindled to zero. That is my new impetus, for the next day or so.

In other news, those who know me may remember that a few years back I wrote and was co-producing an independent feature film called Queensberry Rules. After about a year, the project unfortunately collapsed under its own weight. Last year, however, I was approached by Chris Detton – my former co-producer on the project – who wanted to purchase the rights to the script in order to produce it himself. I was more than happy to come to an agreement with him (the contract for which I vaguely alluded to a while back) since it seemed a waste for the story I created to remain in limbo.

I’ve kept quiet about the resurrected project during the early pre-production phase, but today Chris alerted me to an article about the film on the Daily Post website, so I feel more comfortable about releasing some information about the project. The new production team were eager to reshape my original idea into a crime thriller, so very little remains of my script – two scenes on last reading, but they may yet have been cut in further drafts – and the script has been redrafted by up-and-coming writing duo Paul Howard Hunt and Matthew J. Trow.

I believe that the production team are still casting and seeking other help, so if you are interested in getting involved, please contact Jo Lloyd either via e-mail at jolloyd_27@hotmail.com or by phone on 07595 422551. The film is to be directed by Roger Christian and shooting is slated to begin in October in the North Wales area.

* Though, confusingly, this is my three-hundredth-and-sixty-eighth post. I’m a bit confused as to where the extra post came from. Are WordPress counting my About page, or did I post twice in one day and forget? I need to know. Looks like I’m going to have to go through the blog, counting each post manually.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

As I was about to hop in the shower this morning, there was a vigorous series of knocks on the door. Being pretty naked, I hastily threw on some clothes. Bare-footed, with my t-shirt on inside-out and my fly unbuttoned, I opened the door to find a bald man with a dab of white paint on his chin:

“Alright. Andrew?,” said the paint-flecked man.

“No,” I croaked, still suffering due to the swollen scar tissue in my throat.

“Oh, do you rent?,” he enquired.

Slightly off-guard due to the early hour (it was almost 11:00), I replied, “Err… yes.”

(Shortly after, I wished I’d have jokingly challenged him with, Do you mean am I gay?. This is why I often make bad first impressions).

“Is Andrew in?,” he asked.

“There’s no Andrew here.”

“Oh, that’s odd. I fitted a new window here last week.”

Though I instinctively doubted myself, I informed him, “You really didn’t.”

Insistently, he queried, “Are you sure?”

After dismissing the idea that I may possibly have a blind spot for bald glaziers or secret housemates called Andrew, I clarified, “No, there’s no Andrew here, and you haven’t been in this house. Maybe it was one of the other houses,” I pointed down the road, “They all look pretty similar*.”

Slightly deflated, the man conceded, “Oh, OK. Sorry to bother you.”

“Not a problem.” I closed the door and buttoned my fly, a little too late.

Situations like this often elicit an undue sense of paranoia in me. Was this man genuinely mistaken, a complete nutbox, or was this exchange part of an elaborate scheme to rob me, kill me, and/or bum me? I also considered possible scenarios that were never at risk of occurring – what if he’d forced his way into the house? It’s not like I could have stopped him: regardless of the fact that he was quite a stocky chap, I’m a congenital weakling. I mean, I’ve been beaten up by girls – scrawny little girls. I can’t help my brain operating in this manner. As with most things, I seem to suspect that there is privileged information that I’m not party to and my subconscious enjoys filling in the gaps with stupid plots, creating stories where there are none. But why does my inner self insist to cast its external counterpart as the perennial victim? I don’t feel much like a victim, but maybe my subconscious disagrees.

* I live in a typical cul-de-sac comprising ten identikit houses.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

Red Eye

Dammit! There is already a computer game called Genocide, and it seemingly pre-dates my own concept. How did I not know this, despite not doing even rudimentary research? It’s true, there really is no such thing a new idea. At least I have a fall-back: a tea-brewing simulator. If you don’t see the value in such a game then you obviously fail to recognise the skill that goes into making a great cup of tea. You probably use Tetley tea bags and put the milk in first. You disgust me.

Speaking of Genocide (the game, not real genocide), my prediction was true: my readership has tailed off significantly since I foolishly unleashed that particular post. Whether there is a correlation, I’m not sure. I am currently pondering an even more controversial post in the near future just to test the idea. We are fast approaching the first anniversary of The Blank Page, so if I do decide to end it maybe that would be the most appropriate way. Ah, but if I finish there I will have no way of proving my hypothesis. I didn’t think this through.

Ugghh! Hattie just sneezed on me! If I get myxomatosis now I’m going to bleed all over her in the hope that she catches ME.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

Some consider it to be the birthdate of R&B pop chancer Michael Jackson, but on 29th August, 1958,  five-thousand miles down the road, a true musical legend was born. Three Jazz musicians at the peak of their game – fusion percussionist Jackson Geoffrey-Jackson, slap-bass master “Slippy Two Thumbs” Simpson, and Monster of Bluegrass Wilbury T. Wilson, proponent of the electric ukulele – were recruited by visionary freestyle composer and self-styled trumpetographer, Hornfinger.

Hornfinger and his new band, united in their goal to reclaim their jazz from the big band popularists of the era, staged what were branded rehearsal nights – deliberately underselling what were a series of glorious five-hour improvisations – at The Valley, Hornfinger’s jazz club on the outskirts of Las Vegas, Kent. The nights were attended by such luminaries as Leroy “Doublefoot” Richards and Williams Gregg. Not only did these concerts – forty in total, over a five-month period – spark an ebullient response, they formed the basis for what was to be The Jazz Musketeers’ first 33rpm pressing.

1959 saw the début release from Mr. Hornfinger & his Jazz Musketeers (as they were known until 1960), One Day in Real-Time, produced by Bebop pianist and fabled Fifth Musketeer  McQueen Falconbridge. Whereas side A of Real-Time featured edited highlights of live recordings from the rehearsal nights, Side B pushed the boundaries of recorded music

The album, though retrospectively considered a classic, was not well received. Melody Maker, notorious for its anti-jazz bias, said the following:

“That miniature trumpet solo is well off. Every time that man played it I wanted to punch his face.”

The New Musical Express was more cryptic:

“Its esotericism appeals, but some moments of accessibility risk alienating the hipster demographic.”

The album flopped, selling less than two copies of its original pressing.

Still reeling from the critical mauling, Hornfinger effectively disappeared: although he still frequented The Valley, he would only do so while wearing a fake moustache under the guise of his alter-ego, Sir.

Rudderless without Hornfinger at the helm, the remaining Jazz Musketeers tried to continue as a three-piece, but the emerging skiffle movement in Britain meant that gigs were increasingly hard to come by. However, in the Spring of 1960, Tony Stravinsky (brother of Igor) arranged a residency for the quartet at Club Protzig in Vienna – notorious as the epicentre of the black market cheese ring during the Fromage prohibition – where they performed for six years. During this time the group found their voice, and an enthusiastic European audience, to boot.

Vienna became their home away from home, a city that fed and understood them, that was until Jackson Geoffrey-Jackson was arrested (and subsequently deported) for possession of Liptauer. Still, the band was regalvanised by their stint in Austria, their reinvigoration only tempered by the absence of their conductor-in-chief – the increasingly eccentric Hornfinger – a situation The Jazz Musketeers were keen to rectify on their return to Britain.

Next week:  An Unauthorised History of Hornfinger and The Jazz Musketeers, 1967-1971

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved