Diary: 8-14th December 2018. Writing difficult material.

diary Chris Tavner

I’ve decided to experiment with a more traditional diary type of blog.

Along with other longer form posts, I will use this diary to review the previous week, taking in to account key experiences along with what I have been reading, watching, and what things have caught my interest in the news.

Raheem Sterling

I think there is a shift taking place in arguments around racism.  Footballer Raheem Sterling has been much talked about in the last week as the focus of the debate around racism in football: is the abuse racist, or just ‘banter’?

The idea that screaming at young men because they play for a different team than the one you support is ‘ok’, is absurd in itself.  I love football, and regularly attend matches, and the vocal ‘jockeying’ between fans can be an amusing part of the experience.  Screaming abuse at an individual always seems strange though (reacting to dangerous play aside).

But here, the debate seems to have moved forward.  Former England coach Gary Neville said of the abuse Sterling receives, that it didn’t just have undertones of racism, it was “blatant racism”.  Along with others, he said that the media had to accept a share of the blame for racist abuse directed towards footballers.

What has been interesting is I’ve seen in the Sun, that they are now reporting the abuse against Sterling as racist.  It is accepted as fact.  In the same edition of the paper, a column outlined that they thought any suggestion they had a role in building this racism was ‘nonsense’.

The Sun can deny this until they are blue in the face, but the general public know the truth.

At the same time that Nigel Farage has resigned from UKIP in response to the party appopinting Fascist thug Tommy Robinson as a ‘special adviser’.  He pointed out why he was appalled, and that is certainly a good thing.  However, he also denied that UKIP (with himself as leader), had played a role in stoking racist views.

There is a difference between being racist, and being a Nazi like Tommy Robinson is, and Farage has never been a Fascist.  But as he is the man behind the ‘breaking point’ adverts during the EU referendum, suggesting immigrants would be flooding in.  A poster that drew clear comparisons with propaganda used by Hitler.

Farage is not a Fascist, but he is definitely a racist.  His rhetoric, backed and amplified by the majority of the print media, including the Sun, has certainly boosted racism in this country.

Developing difficult material

On Sunday I performed at the ‘new Stuff’ night at the Comedy Store.  This is a night for acts to try out new material, and I build the development of my own material around this night.  Nearly all of the stuff I write is debuted here, before potentially being developed further.

For this night though, I was very nervous.  I was going to be doing material about our recent miscarriage.

Let’s go back 2 months.  Our 12 week scan had been delayed, so I paid to have one done privately.  We saw him.  His heart beating, wriggling around.  Lively, and alive.

At 15 weeks we finally got our first NHS scan.  As we had already had a scan, this was a mere formality.  While sitting there I was thinking about what we doing after as the nurse went through all the usual measurements.  Then she said sorry, there is no heartbeat.  My own heart plummeted.

What followed was a process over a few days of coming in for drugs to stop the pregnancy, then spending a day there whilst Sally gave birth to him.  It was hard, she went through pain, and at the end we got to spend some time with him.  With Eddie.  Then the process of sorrow, of a future stolen from us, could begin.

As with any occasion of sorrow and loss though, there is humor.  It is how we survive.  Me and Sally would say things to each other that would appall any on-looker, but it made us laugh.  Through laughter, we bond.

I had some stuff to try out on the subject, my experience, and I was nervous.  The first half of my set went well.  Good potential material.  Then I talked about the miscarriage, and the shift was simply too hard to take.

The room was sad and shocked.  Even then, there were a few small laughs to certain ideas.  But, overall, it was really hard.  But, it was right that I should try it.

Watching the video back the reaction, as is nearly always the case, was not as bad as I thought it was.  Hopefully I can work on this to be able to communicate these ideas on stage (in a long form show, I should add.  I’m not opening with it when on at the ‘Giggle Shack’ any time soon).

Truth is comedy, after all.  The art is communicating ideas to an audience.  This stuff has a long way to go yet.

Reading

Philip K Dick

I have very significantly increased my levels of reading in the last couple of months.  Part of this I think is in response to our miscarriage.  Being hit by a crisis like that, you don’t want to, or feel able to, work.  But you do have the spare time, and want to fill it with something.

We recently went away on holiday.  It was planned ahead of time, but as it happened it came just a few weeks after getting the sad news about our baby.  To have had a holiday immediately after would have felt impossible, but a few weeks later was good timing.  As part of this holiday we factored in a lot of downtime.

During this downtime I read.  And read.  And read.

In that week I completed 3 books, and got significantly through another.  This included the superb, and inspiring, book by Stephen King On Writing.

I followed this up with his novel Rage, and then also a Phillip K Dick book Radio Free Albemuth.  In this story, an unpleasant, populist President gets to power.  Fueled by paranoia, he starts taking away civil liberties, and it becomes apparent that he was backed by the Russians all along.  Science Fiction huh?  Crazy stuff!

It’s my intention to keep up with my reading, and report back on any gems I come across.

Future

This blog has certainly come out longer than I was expecting, but that is not surprising given how long I have left it since writing one.  It’s fair to say that I’ve had a lot on my mind.  Future diary entries should be more succinct.

Thanks for reading.  If you enjoyed it, please share with others.