EuroFiles (No.4) Senior Grey – Backbone of the Bristles Basement

Senior Grey. Affectionately known as The Senior. The backbone of the Bristles basement. A sound Eurocratican – yet still totally in love with his own country, The Duchy of Neverland.

At first glance he doesn’t look old enough to have been The Senior for decades.

20170723_205511-1 (315x400)

This picture was taken on his first day as a Grey all those years ago.

20170730_202813-1 (227x400)

… and this today as The Senior.

Spot the difference!

It’s down to careful management of time – always on his way to or from a meeting but rarely enough time to actually attend them or stick around for long, let alone make decisions. No stress, you see …

It’s also down to a sound relationship with the basement box shifters. The Senior nurtures loyal Greys like the reliably efficient and compliant Stickler Grey from Germolena, and Groveller Grey from The Shrek Republic, a past master at brown-nosing.

The Senior is simply all-round nice. Give him a yellow box and a counter bell to play with and he’s happy as a sandboy.

In fact, so idyllic is working life in the Eurocratic Union, that regardless of how long they’ve worked there, no Grey ever looks a day older than when they first started.  And they thrive on The Senior’s benevolence. One of his rare tickings-off feels as punitive as a pampering session in the Union’s onsite health spa.

All in all, The Senior and his team are perfect for promoting the Eurocratic Union’s role as – as – well, whatever it is …

The Yellow Box original draft poster (2) (282x400)

In the next issue: Posh Grey – Quettex trod nerreh!

The Yellow Box – written and directed by Paul Costello

Bookings:  www.themarkettheatre.com

Copyright © Paul Costello    August 2017

http://www.paulcostello.me 

Advertisements

EuroFiles (No.2) – Finsky Feelgood the Tai Chi Instructor

Life in the Eurocratic Club is pretty relaxed.

That Greys never age from the day they start working in Bristles is testimony to the gentle pace of life, the stress-free environment and the magnificent facilities on offer, such as the health spa, pampering pool and 5-Star restaurants for all nationalities.

To help keep it so, The Senior calls occasionally on the services of Finski Feelgood, a tai chi instructor from Scandy. The wellbeing and balance offered by tai chi leaves the Greys feeling ever more euphoric about life in the Bristles basement – if indeed that’s possible.

20170726_205316-1_resized_1 (315x400)

Finski’s classes are compelling. If ever the Greys were at risk of over-pacing themselves, the smooth and graceful tai chi moves slow them to a more manageable work rate. They love Finski’s visits – although she does prove a distraction to Newday Grey, his loss of concentration making the moves not so much ‘smooth and graceful’ as ‘dad at the disco’.

And of course tai chi will serve as a great communication skill for The Angel of Mercy and her ‘troops’ when, having absorbed most of Eurocratica and Middle Easternness, she begins her advance into Far Eastern Regions. Fabulous being able to display such an understanding of what makes other cultures tick!

Finski Feelgood – the basement’s star attraction. Bringing a touch of glamour to an office that might otherwise be, well, rather too grey.

The Yellow Box original draft poster (2) (282x400)

In the next issue: Wisecrack Grey – the Joker in the Pack

The Yellow Box – written and directed by Paul Costello

Bookings:  www.themarkettheatre.com

Copyright © Paul Costello    August 2017

http://www.paulcostello.me

EuroFiles

Welcome to the first issue of EuroFiles.

Remember Terms and Conditions Apply, starring Dave Camshaft, Nick Clogg, Eddie Moribund, Nigella Garage et al? With many of the real-life politicians no longer in power, I often wonder if that play put a jinx on them!

Camshaft, Clogg and Moribund in my kitchen

(L to R) Camshaft, Moribund and Clogg at ease in my Herefordshire home

Public attention has now turned to Europe, leading me to a brand new satire – The Yellow Box. This doesn’t set out to mock our senior political envoys in Eurocratica who, after all, send themselves up far better than I ever could. Nor does it make fun of our Parliamentary representatives (MEPs) since you could only mock them if you knew who they were – and nobody does.

Instead The Yellow Box lays bare the workings of the Eurocratic Club. How are new rules dreamt up? Which countries are allowed membership? How did it all start, and where is it heading? That sort of thing …

Bristles HQ

The engine room of the Club is a basement office in the bowels of Bristles, where a burgeoning army of Greys meets from Monday to Thursday to bandy ideas around and shift grey boxes (plus one mysterious yellow one) to and fro in a semblance of efficiency. Vital matters are thrashed out, such as the curve of a cucumber, the minimum size for an Atlantic pollock, whether a swede can be called a turnip, and whether it’s okay to eat your pet pony.

The Club doubles in size as most countries in Western Eurocratica rush to join, and doubles again when Eastern Eurocratica applies for membership en masse. The ponderous beast then spreads its hold through Middle Easternness and Far Eastern Regions, testing the commitment of the basement box shifters.

Over the next few weeks I’ll unveil some of the play’s characters – such as Wisecrack Grey, Finski Feelgood the tai chi instructor, and The Senior. Although they’re entirely fictional, you might feel that one character, the Angel of Mercy – Leader of Germolena and prospective Head of Planet Earth – seems rather familiar.

If you enjoyed Terms and Conditions Apply, and have a taste for sitcoms like Yes Minister, The Office or W1A, then The Yellow Box is made for you. It digs relentlessly at everything bureaucratic – or in this case Eurocratic – with office banter that sails close to the probable truth yet harms nobody.

Having been media-bombarded in recent years with political rhetoric about what is best for you, here’s a chance to explore an amusing alternative Euroscape – from the safety of your own theatre seat!

YB Poster Main Proof5 030417

In the next issue: Finski Feelgood – the tai chi instructor.

The Yellow Box – written and directed by Paul Costello

Bookings:  www.themarkettheatre.com

Copyright © Paul Costello    August 2017

http://www.paulcostello.me

Being Alan Bennett

Me as Alan Bennett

Me as Alan Bennett

This morning I became Alan Bennett. It wasn’t a chance event but a mystery prize from one of those television game shows where the right answer sets off a klaxon and you win a pampering weekend for two in a Nottinghamshire spa – or in my case A Day as Alan Bennett.

The activating pill which lasts twenty four hours looked much like a paracetamol but with an A on it, and a smaller one with B would deactivate the process should I want to call it off.

It’s not every day one expects to behave in ways other than those one has grown used to and are comfortable with, and my new persona was soon put to the test by our postman Richard who has delivered to the neighbourhood for as long as I remember, his youthful appearance suggesting he can barely have been out of shorts when he first started, if indeed he ever has been, going by the Post Office variety he wears come snow or shine.

‘Sign there please,’ he said, holding out the electronic gadget.

‘Just here?’ I asked.

It must have been the soft Yorkshire accent that triggered his reaction, the bundle of letters destined for numbers seven to fifteen and neatly secured with a strong elastic band falling from his grasp.

‘You’re, you’re …’ he spluttered.

Not wishing to disappoint him one way or the other I nodded reassuringly and invited him to have as good a day as he’d offered me. It seemed only polite to linger on the doorstep and reciprocate his thumbs-up gesture as he turned from time to time to catch a further glance before disappearing round the corner eager no doubt to tell others of his discovery.

Keen to exploit my new identity I thought it a good idea to travel into town to show myself off, as it were. Walking to the bus stop into low winter sun reminded me of the West End stage or playing a Talking Head under the bright lights of a BBC studio. I found passers-by staring at me for longer than one normally dares, and if I looked round after they’d gone by they too were glancing back, much as you do if you like the look of a person and want a further viewing without being too apparent.

The bus driver too seemed baffled, happy that the photograph on my pass matched the face in front of him but unable I imagine to read the name without glasses.

‘Mind if I join you?’ I asked an elderly lady with a kind face and blue hair.

The intake of breath down the bus would have graced a reputable community choir such was its exact unison, and the usual hubbub of unintentionally malicious gossip and exchanges of medical diagnosis quickly died down. The lady with whom I’d sat went into a sort of trance, like a pheasant in front of a moving vehicle unsure where to go or what to do, her eyes glossing over and protruding in a way they might not have done since her more productive days.

‘Aren’t you, aren’t you …’ she stammered.

I nodded.

From across the aisle and two rows back another woman who apparently thought she knew better called out,

‘You’re whatisname, aren’t you? On the telly.’

I glanced round with a celebrity smile.

‘Alan Partridge!’ a man shouted from one of the rear seats in a way that, were one to have a conversation with him, there might be many points of disagreement. I nodded and shook my head like a toy dog on the back shelf of a car, neither denying nor acknowledging his claim. No-one was quite able to put their finger on who I was despite the bold initials A.B. on the cover of the notebook in which I jotted reminders.

Once inside the bus terminus it was no easy matter forcing my way through huddles of mesmerized shoppers.

‘I don’t think it is Alan Partridge,’ said one voice.

‘Sugar,’ said another.

‘Shall we follow him?’ said what sounded like the man from the back of the bus, upon which I scurried through the exit thinking it imprudent to encourage stalking even though it might provide handy material for a play.

With the novelty of celebrity wearing off I bought a woollen hat, rendering the stallholder unusually speechless, and with the removal of my spectacles and a large upturned collar thereby gained some degree of anonymity.

Browsing Waterstones shelves, my appearance provoking sideways glances as if I were a commercial spy for a rival book chain or was about to pocket some paperbacks, I became curious about a panting noise beside me, and found a young woman barely four foot in height jumping up and down, hands above her head as if performing a fitness exercise. Had she not been gasping I’d have had little notion she was there.

‘Are you all right?’ I asked, causing the usual turn of heads.

‘I’m trying to reach that book,’ she said, pointing to a shelf at least twice her height. ‘The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.’

‘Good choice,’ I said, feeling somewhat relieved that the book appeared more important than any hunch that the author was present. Much as I was tempted to offer my signature I decided there was more to be had from staying incognito and watching her pore over the sleeve, and that to sign it on the premise of a one-day passport would not in any case be quite in the spirit of the arrangement.

With the books shelved alphabetically from the top and Bennett positioned poorly out of reach, I wondered if I should stay on to help others of this height who might call in for my books between now and closing, which would in turn help towards my royalties – at least mine for the time being.

In the event I found a quiet bench by the river to review my notes, before ordering a much needed hot chocolate in a side street cafe offering sufficient privacy for me to remove my hat and coat. Perched at a narrow eating bar the kind of which is widely used by cafes to make the best of their seating and which usually offer a view of the street or occasionally a wall with local paintings for sale I was disturbed by a lady whose debilitated state reminded me of Miss Shepherd, the lady in the van.

‘Have you been waiting long?’ she said, presumably meaning the hot chocolate that hadn’t yet arrived.

Mindful of Miss Shepherd it looked as though this lady, who’d levered herself onto the stool next to me, did not herself have long to wait, leading me perhaps unfairly to reply,

‘Eighty-one years. How about you?’

‘That’s a long time for a drink and a biscuit, dear,’ she said, playing me at my own game. ‘You’re Alan Bennett aren’t you?’

‘Only for the day,’ I said, ‘but I’m really enjoying it.’

‘Oh that’s good dear. It’s nice being someone else sometimes.’

Late in the evening with my story almost complete and bed looming I considered staying as Alan Bennett overnight since the prize had been for a full day. The thought of delving into his dreams and learning his night customs was tempting, but in the event I felt it more respectful to leave that side of things for him alone to know. I finished writing while the A was still working, swallowed the B and went to bed.

*

Me

Me

 

I bumped into the postman on his rounds earlier today.

‘Hello Richard – nice and mild.’

‘Morning Paul,’ he called out cheerfully – as he went on his way.

 

 

Copyright © Paul Costello December 2015

Paul Costello – Writer       Website: www.paulcostello.me       Twitter: @PaulCostello8

 

 

 

CLICK.COM – REVIEW

Internet dating laid bare in this unflinching comedy-drama
click mouse heart
Exposing matching sites in such an entertaining way makes them far less embarrassing to own up to, says Olla Poltescu
From the off CLICK.COM gallops into the world of internet dating with Paul Smith’s  side-splitting portrayals of farmer Geoff and outrageous medallion man Donald – ‘don’t call me Donny or I’ll mimic The Osmonds’.
Recently divorced Hannah bats aside the attention of these suitors only to leave a void for other suspect characters, Vivienne Evans’ accomplished performance exposing the dilemma of a jilted woman intent on getting a life.
Janet, Deirdre and the cloying Betty, through dates with Harvey (a solid performance by promising Giles Lantos), show that problems finding a suitable partner are felt equally by both genders; I sensed a clear ‘there but for the grace of God’ murmur filtering around a crowded Bosbury Parish Hall.
With online matching sites firmly in the dating mainstream, I’d wondered what I could learn from this preview of aspiring local playwright Paul Costello’s new comedy-drama. Any doubts evaporated when, no spring chicken myself, I found it addressing the particular plight of women of a certain age; knowing nods across the room told me I was not alone. Hannah’s experiences place the sensitivity of ‘mature’ people in stark perspective. Not for them the ‘find-follow-and possibly forget’ formula that young generations arguably see as the norm; more one of a longing driven by hope eternal.
Despite its priceless humour, CLICK.COM never becomes a gratuitous exposé of dodgy dating and people behaving badly. When things aren’t going quite as they should a clever counterplot develops which, with the play’s reassuring romantic undertone, keeps the audience feeling as optimistic as feisty Hannah.
The notion of being supported by trusted others is particularly helpful. Hannah’s daughter Ellie, expertly played byHettie Guilding, (‘just chill, mum’) will be recognised by mothers across the land. The tough role of Sarah, Hannah’s fragile friend and confidante, is superbly delivered by Hilary Benoit, and even Hannah’s taxi driver (Dave Pollard) offers sound moral support.
As the plot unravels through a beautifully-worked, Ayckbournish piece of farce, it becomes clear that no-one can guarantee true love running smooth and has no absolute right that it should. Director Bob Maynard’s refreshingly funny production of this true-to-life drama undoubtedly gets that message across.
CLICK .COM is showing at Bosbury Parish Hall, near Ledbury                                     
Friday 24th/Saturday 25th July at 7.30pm    (£10)                                                           
Online: www.ticketsource.co.uk/ruraltheatreplayers  In Person: Ledbury Books and Maps, 20 High Street, Ledbury 

CLICK.COM

From the team that brought you last year’s hit comedy Terms and Conditions Apply, a new comedy drama:

click.com   – a frolic through the highs and lows of online dating

With clever use of skittish humour and farce, this original comedy drama explores the place of online matching sites in finding a partner. With particular reference to mature people and the risks for women, click.com offers a playful insight into the benefits and pitfalls of a pursuit where emotions, whether joy or despair, are driven by hope eternal. click.com poster

‘… side-splitting farce’

‘… a preposterous yet cautionary story line – look, learn and inevitably laugh!’

‘… truly outrageous characters’

‘… a cheeky tale with an undercurrent of pure romance’

Tickets now on sale:
In Person:   Ledbury Books and Maps, 20 High Street, Ledbury

 

Paul Costello – Writer       Website: www.paulcostello.me       Twitter: @PaulCostello8

 

Twitter Talk

In my comedy Terms and Conditions Apply, an actor had to say the following lines as fast as he could:

“This Party is registered with House of Commons Political Services. Membership subject to status. Services may be provided in conjunction with another Party. The Party reserves the right to amend or withdraw policies without prior notice. Minimum spend: your entire household income. Offers subject to availability and end when the Party chooses. Typical APR ten thousand per cent. Exclusions apply. Selected other Parties may contact you with offers, which you should ignore. Participating politicians only. Go online for details. Terms and conditions apply.”

The idea was to satirise radio advertisements by bringing their language into normal conversation. The audience certainly got it!

Daft though such speed-talk is, at least the words are plain English. Less so I fear with other media. Okay, the abbreviations and acronyms used in texting or on Facebook  – ur, lol, wd, cd and so on – though often irritating, have been normalised across generations, and are at least underpinned by recognisable English. (Btw, I use btw from time to time). And thirty years ago when seemingly complicated website and email addresses started appearing on letterheads and advertisements, they soon proved to be simply a point of contact, like a postal address – once you’d accessed the address you could communicate in ordinary English.

Not so Twitter. This instant-messaging medium has a bright blue language of its own and limits messages to 140 characters. Addresses are prefixed with @, and have to come out of this allocation. Some messages use so many @addresses that there are few of the 140 left for proper words. I just drew the following tweet off my Twitter feed:

LIVE SCORES: @WorcsWarriors lead 7-3 at @CornishPirates1; 0-0 between @khfcofficial & @BarnetFC and @bradfordparkave and @WorcesterCityFc

Not good communication and not easy reading. And clicking on any of the @addresses leads to an equally impenetrable barrage of @information and few meaningful words.

Then there’s the hashtag. This allows you to follow a topic of specific interest or current fashion. The subject is prefixed with # to draw attention. Shops now prefer a #BetterBuy banner in their window to a ‘50% Off’ poster, and TV channels invite you to click on #LostDog to find out more about, well, you guess …

Here’s another actual tweet from my account:

Brilliant poem: #Sum Poet @GregMLeadbetter http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05q5y3q … #SomethingUnderstood #Poetry & #Linguistics @writingwestmids @BBCRadio4

The @s and the #s take up over half the spaces, and, though photos speak many words, the added BBC link eats up most of the rest. Hard going.

Okay, @PaulCostello8 is a dinosaur when it comes to social media #FairCop. So I’ve tried to come @ it another way. If communication in plain English is seriously hampered by a limit of 140 bright blue characters then I thought we could at least extend its useage to other @times and @places, say during a ch@ or when b@ting ideas about. We could call it Twitter Talk. #BetterValue #ImproveCommunications #NewLanguage #WorthTrying

I put my idea to the test in Hereford last week. I’d cooked up a bulk hash of chopped cold meat and vegetables, reheated in a spicy sauce, and wanted some tags to label the freezer bags with. So I caught the @DRM476 bus into town and visited @Wilkinsons for some hash tags #HashTags.

I couldn’t see any on the shelves #NoHashTags, and when I checked with the Customer Assistant she said,

‘Sorry luv, we’re out of hash tags.’

‘What, none at all, HashtagNoHashTags?’ I said.

‘Ever so sorry,’ she said. ‘They’re trending at the moment.’

‘What does “trending” mean?’ I asked.

‘Well,’ she said, ‘once we started hashtagging hash tags it caught people’s @tention and now everybody wants them.’

‘So @everyone thinks hash tags are fashionable?’ I said.

‘Yes,’ she replied. ‘A trend. Hash tags are trending HashtagHashTagsTrending.’

As you can imagine, I was delighted at her quick grasp of Twitter Talk!

‘When are you getting some more?’ I said. ‘I need to tag my hash.’

‘Ah, there’s a problem. Our stock buyer has made a hash of ordering hash tags HashtagHashUpHashTags. He didn’t tell @HashTagProducts who supply our hash tags that they were trending as a result of our HashtagHashTags, so they too are out of stock. It’ll be at least three weeks.’

‘Not very clever of the buyer,’ I suggested.

‘Yeah – his problem is he’s too fond of the old, you know …’ she said, making a smoking gesture with her hand.

‘Hash?’

Pitching herself wholeheartedly into Twitter Talk, the Customer Assistant said,

‘Yes, he hashes things up at the best of times, but this time the hash has clearly hashed up his hash tag handling HashtagHashHashingUpHashTagHandling, and @HashTagProducts aren’t happy about it.’

As we were ch@ting, I was becoming increasingly agitated by two children running up and down the aisles punching each other. Pre-empting me, the Customer Assistant said,

‘It’s okay. They’re only playing tag HashtagTag. Not harming anyone.’

‘But where are the parents?’ I said.

‘They’ll not be far away. Probably got ’em electronically tagged to keep a track on them HashtagTaggingTaggers!’ she said, laughing.

‘No doubt tagging taggers is trending too,’ I ventured.

‘Definitely! HashtagTaggingTaggers@HashTagShelves. Anyway, good luck with the hash tags. Try @Boots or @WHSmith in @HighStreet.’

I came away really excited about our conversation! In the same way as I’d successfully brought the speed-talk of radio-ad language into Terms and Conditions Apply @MarketTheatre @Ledbury @LastSummer #HilariousComedy #GreatAudience #MyFirstPlay, in one simple exchange I’d shown that moving away from on-screen Twitter can add value. #TwitterTalk #NoLimitOnCharacters #UseInEverydayConversation

Watch this space! I’ve got a sneaky feeling that before long Twitter Talk will be trending!

 

Copyright © Paul Costello April 2015

click. com – a play by Paul Costello. A comic romp through the joys and pitfalls of internet dating for ‘mature’ people. Showing at Bosbury Parish Hall Friday 24th/Saturday 25th July 2015.