I’ve had a lazy morning, just grateful for the fact that my body isn’t rotting away like it was this time last week. Last night I met my friend Lesley for tea at Bistro Franc, nice and early @ 6pm. It had been over a year since I’d seen her, so there was plenty to catch up on. It also meant I was in the rare position of actually eating something before drinking something. Usually, I’m no good at “going out for dinner”, because if I drink before a meal – even if it’s just a glass of wine – my appetite disappears completely, and I end up picking at my plate, wasting food (and money). Of course, when I get home hours later, I’m ravenous, and end up eating bad stuff just to get a carb fix. As we took our seats, I remember thinking to myself, “gosh, Deane, this is mighty grown up of you. Perhaps you could also try getting home at a decent hour and not losing another Saturday..”.
We went for the Pre-Theatre Menu (not that we were going to the theatre), which offers three courses for £11.95. Both of us opted for the haddock fishcakes (healthy-ish), followed by the grilled salmon in hoi sin sauce with Asian stir fry vegetables (very healthy), then the Cointreau cheesecake (not healthy at all). I think we chucked in some Pinot rose and a cheeky lager, too.
As ever with Bistro Franc (and Bistros Jacques and Pierre), the food was delicious. I’m not a huge eater, unless it’s Domino Pizza, but the Bistro portion sizes are just right for me, as there’s no way I’d manage three courses at most restaurants. Proper quantitative gourmets, however, would probably still be hungry after a meal here.
Gossiping done, and my jeans (still the old ones, I’m afraid…) feeling distinctly tighter, we skipped over to The Bridewell for some shandies. This place, as the name suggests, used to be a Victorian cop shop and gaol, and they’ve done a great job of preserving the atmosphere and architecture. Lots of exposed brick, vaulted ceilings, and the cells have now become booths. Friday nights, you usually couldn’t pay me to be “out in town” at a certain time, because it’s Knobhead Central, especially around Mathew Street, and I’ve never seen the attraction of squashing into a pub, having to tread on people just to get a drink at a bar. But this place is perfect, because it’s hidden away on Campbell Square, with a couple of other bars, none of which get mad busy. It’s even relatively student-free, which is always a plus. I’ve been to lots of ‘dos’ at The Bridewell, and it feels a bit like home, probably because, just like The Jones’ and The Belvedere, there’s a built-in time machine in the main bar. Lesley and I had arrived around 7.30pm and, no more than five minutes later, it was 12.15am.
In bed for 1am, with no sudden urge to start playing games or go dancing around the living room, I caught a cab to dreamland, feeling smug that I’d chosen such healthy menu choices (ahem) at Bistro Franc. The mountain of gin and tonic I then drank, obviously didn’t count.
The meal last night came at the end of a very good week, diet wise. Yes, I’m still cooking stir fries most nights, but I’m varying lunch a little – from a ham and egg salad with cottage cheese, to ham and mushroom omelette. Added to the grapes and yoghurt that is my breakfast staple, my daily calorie intake is somewhere in the region of 1100 kcal, and a further 1.75lbs has come off this week. I do think, though, that Mr Cointreau Cheesecake is getting a little speech ready for next week’s weigh-in.
My back is still behaving itself, too, as long as I keep moving. I try to go out for a long walk every day, even if my scenic choices are limited. Turn left outside the Collegiate Debtors Prison, and there’s 8 lanes of Islington traffic to get across before I hit London Road. Turn right, and it’s Everton. I am strider, allergic to dawdling, so it only takes me 10 minutes to walk into town, which is where I usually end up heading, maybe because it’s downhill. If I’m feeling particularly energetic, which isn’t often, I’ll walk through the Uni campus along Ashton Street, to Brownlow Hill, then past the Met Cathedral, over Mount Pleasant and along Hope Street to the other Cathedral. It’s basically one straight line, a two mile return trip, and a pleasant 45 minutes of fresh air with my tunes. I also work while I’m walking, writing scenes in my head that I can’t seem to do at a laptop. It does mean I’ve nearly been run over a million times, as I’m just wandering aimlessly, in a world of my own, with no regard for my fellow pedestrians, or traffic lights. And yes, I do expect cars to stop for me when I step randomly out into the road.
On Wednesday morning, I met up with my friend, Tony Lindsay, @ FACT, to crack on with a screenplay we’re writing together. I’m not usually a fan of co-writing, because I’m a control freak, and the process takes a lot longer than it does working on my own. But I love working with Tony because, at the risk of sounding totally up my own arse, we have a natural kind of creative symbiosis. I don’t have to explain my thinking to him, and he’s a meticulous researcher, like me, so neither of us ever gets bogged down with stuff that should be sorted right at the start. Also like me, Tony’s obsessed with films, and can quote all the classics. He’s way more experienced than me, too, and every time we work together, I learn so much about my own writing, which has improved immeasurably since we began collaborating on stuff.
We also share the same daft sense of humour, which really helps when you’re writing comedy. Some of the things I come up with can be quite surreal, often just visual gags that I’ll sneak into a script – nothing that has any bearing on the plot, just something subtle that the viewer’s either going to notice, or not. But I never have to explain any of my whims to Tony, he’ll just smile and say “I totally get that”, which writers need to hear, because we spend most of our time thinking we’ve lost the plot entirely.
Tony’s also a great script editor, whereas I am Queen of the Overwrite. When I wrote my first Moving On, Jimmy McGovern would get so frustrated with me, because I was crap at pushing the action along. I would feel like I had to explain every word, every action, every nuance of a character, instead of letting the script do the work. Why write 10 words when 100 will do, right? “You’re overwriting…” he’d say, “STOP f**king doing that!” And when Jimmy tells you to stop doing something, you kind of do it. Similarly, but without shouting at me, Tony knows just where to hack at a piece of dialogue without losing any of the power, and he’s great at curbing my tendency to make scenes too long. We’re well on with this latest project, and we’re both loving every second of the process. Long time since I’ve felt that.
This coming week, then, is a mix of scripting, quiz writing, naughty-story-writing, and feature-writing. I’ll go to The Olds’ tomorrow for some proper cooking, and to hear Dad’s latest verdict on all that is wrong with the world. I’ll also have to console Mum, who hasn’t stopped crying since Carra announced his retirement. There could be wine involved, and lots of it.
Monday, I hope we deliver a spanking to West Brom, which should nicely kick off another well-behaved week of work and healthy eating. Getting on my scales is like looking at a bomb, with the world’s slowest timer attached, but if all goes to plan then, come next Saturday morning, I should be seeing yet another different integer at the front of the scales…..watch this space.
Things I’ve Learned This Week
1. Eating before drinking is a rather good idea
It’s only taken me 25 years to realise this, but having a nice tea before hitting the ale, kind of made me feel less pants the morning. Who knew?
2. I don’t need drugs
I’ve had so much energy this week, probably because I’ve flushed out all the opiates I used to take just to try and get to sleep. I’ve discovered instead a great, natural, inexpensive sleep aid called, weirdly enough, Sleep Aid. It’s from Home Bargains, costs about a quid, and is a combination of valerian, hops and passion flower, in tablet form. And it works. Maybe it’s a placebo, and my brain just needs to ‘think’ I’m taking something that’s going to help me sleep, but it doesn’t matter. If I’m sleeping, finally, then who cares?
Things I’m Dreading This Week
1. The Match
Batter those Baggies. Please. No fannying about, let’s get an early goal, then another, then one more before half-time, put the game to bed, then have a kickabout in the second half. It’s West Brom. They’re shit. Don’t make this another Villa.
This Week I’ve Mostly Been Watching…
1. The Amazing Race Season 21
Imagine my excitement when I realised that there was still an entire season I hadn’t seen. The down side is that I’m stuck at Ep2, because the torrent is corrupted and I can’t find it anywhere else. I could skip straight to Ep3, but what wonders would I be missing? Every leg of the race gives me a frogbox of reasons to spit contemptuously at the screen, and I’m worried that my facetious amusement would be severely diluted if I missed even a single second. My hunt for a fit and healthy Episode 2, shall go on.
2. The Following
This Episode 2 was not corrupted, but it may as well have been. After a cracking opening, the sophomore ep has gone downhill faster than Franz Klammer in a snowstorm . I know the entire premise is utterly loopy, but that just makes the added silliness even harder to ignore. I won’t put spoilers here, but this had better pick up by Ep 3 (which I’m about to watch), or I’m going to do a Sons of Anarchy and consign it to the recycle bin….
3. Not Sons of Anarchy
…speaking of which, I just can’t get back into this. I’ve tried, figuring there must be some (hidden) reason why it’s so popular in the US, but I’m just finding it difficult to actually give a toss about any of the characters, which is the cardinal sin in telly writing. Whether you have a hero, anti-hero, or Satan himself in the lead role, you’ve got to make your audience feel ‘something’ for the protagonist, and I just don’t. I’m not arsed what happens to Jax or his family and, Kim Coates aside, there’s nothing to keep me here. OK…One. More. Episode…
4. 30 Rock Season 3
My drug of choice right now…
“Since Giuliani left, it’s getting harder and harder to harvest hobo organs…”
The Stats Bit:
Month 1: 8.75lbs
Month 2: 5.25lbs
Month 3: 1lb
Month 4: 0.5lbs
Weeks 17-18 (Christmas & NY!) – plus 3.5lbs
Week 19: 6lbs
Week 20-21: 0.5lbs
Week 22: 2.5lbs
Week 23: 1.75lbs
Total after 161 days: 22.75lbs