Victoria Wood

Some Hardbacks For Christmas Part 1

This was the year in which hardbacks really came into their own. Suddenly £18 seemed a reasonable spend on a brand new novel when going out to dinner (remember that?) set us all back an awful lot more. But in these wretched times of political ineptitude, disease, loss and economic betrayals our tastes grow tame. […]

Finding The Rhythm Of Words

Words can fall so perfectly on notes that you can’t tell which came first. Whenever I’m stuck on a chapter, particularly one that demands an amusing situation, I read about other writers discussing their craft, from Noel Coward or the Simpsons/Seinfeld writers to stand-ups. Recently I returned to the older end of British comedy writing. A […]

The Friday Song

Victoria Wood and I were the same age. The ‘female Alan Bennett’ sadly died two years ago. She became a friend very early on in both our careers. I went to the first play she had staged and remained a pen-pal for a long time (I kept her hilarious letters). Some performers are naturally nervous; […]

Being Funny In English

  Hogarth’s ‘The Weighing House’ shows the stages from seriousness to hilarity, and is, in itself, a very funny print. Humour travels. Wit does not. Broadly speaking, its said that the UK and France tend to prefer wit while America prefers humour, so it’s harder to cross to the US with European writing than go the […]

Goodbye To The North’s Greatest Comic Talent

She and I were born in the same year, and I first met her in a fringe show she performed in London called ‘Talent’. In it, two girls wait backstage to appear in a talent show. Maureen is fat, Julie is thin and hypertense. Two magicians practice a trick on them, and manage to burn […]

Whimsy Is The New Reality

There are certain literary traits I don’t much care for; over-earnestness, sentiment, nostalgia and manufactured ‘edge’ being among the worst – TV crime dramas seem to believe that everything should be grim and shouty – Tony Hancock once said ‘You can get away with anything if you keep a straight face’ – but I’ve never […]

Grimly Funny Up North

‘Don’t tell me you don’t want something doing about those round shoulders,’ the lady from the dieting club tells Julie Walters, ‘I’d love to get you on the floor with a broom handle some Tuesday evening.’ Victoria Wood wrote three TV screenplays (remember plays on television, before the marketeers and advertisers pushed them off our […]

Warning: Your Brain Must Be THIS BIG To Be Allowed On This Ride

My pal Frazer Lee complains that the audience of ‘Avatar’ Tweeted, Facebooked and MySpaced themelves into a stupor while watching ‘Timotei – The Movie’ at his local cinema. Last year at Somerset House the girl in front of me watching ‘Alien’ took pictures of her own hair on her mobile and Facebooked it. I swear, […]

Reading Funny

Last year I won an award called The Last Laugh for writing a funny book. Although I’m trying to learn how to keep jokes out of my writing for a while, it reminded me of how much I enjoy humorous writing. Thinking about a Top Ten of funny books (the sort of thing men do […]