Monday
Dec082008

Blog No.5

Well I finally had a completely sold out bookreading in the studio theatre
at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm London.   As I walked up I saw that there
were ticket touts hanging around outside the venue.  “At last!”  I thought
to myself “...I’m back now baby! Tickets are so rare for my readings
they’re being sold on the black market.  Oh yes I’m popular again and all
of you who didn’t take me seriously over the last ten years are going to
pay!  Lorraine Kelly, Melvyn Bragg, Gary Linecker, there’s going to be a
reckoning!”
But then I realised that the touts were outside for The Kooks who were
appearing in the main hall so the reckoning is off...for now.

To answer a couple of your posts.  Jay, I have most of the suits in a
wardrobe but I’m now so fat they don’t fit at all, not even comically.  I
think my original stage suit is on display in a museum of clothing,
(possibly in Leicester I can’t remember).
I can’t recall why I wanted to be Mister Whitney Huston but I don’t want
to be anymore-she’s scary.

Rachel. Yes I’m a Helvetica fan myself and have recently returned to it
after a brief flirtation with Times New Roman-a pretentious fop of a
typeface.

Simon.  I realise rather depressingly that my entire recording career was
in the vinyl age so there is no CD of the Fish People but I thought I
might try and record it from the LP I have then offer it here as a free
download, so I’ll let you know if that’s possible.

Jasmine. Thank you for helping sort out that meta title thing.  I’m sure
you’re right and that was the only thing stopping me being number 1 on
google.

Now here’s a thing.  When you’re doing publicity for a book or whatever
you do lots of little interviews for newspapers, answer questionaires and
write little pieces for free.
But this time at least two of the features were permanently cancelled the
week before my piece was due to be printed.  There was a feature in the
Sunday Times called Best of Times, Worst of Times in which I gave a heart
rending interview all about my bad back and then there was a thing in the
Saturday Guardian called a Little Place I Know.  I had been longing to do
this for years constantly revising my list and taking bribes and free
meals from restaurant owners on the understanding that I’d be mentioning
them soon in the Guardian.  Finally the call came but then every week I’d
scan the magazine to see that my piece wasn’t there.  You’d think they
would have printed it since they had it hanging around but apparently that
isn’t the way it works.  No wonder they’re all going out of business.
Anyway I thought I’d reproduce it here.  It doesn’t have quite the same
force not being in a glossy consumerist magazine and probably won’t
protect me from the retribution of angry restaurant owners but there you
go.
Alexei Sayle.

A Little Place I Know.
Salaam Namaste. 68 Millman Street.  London WC1. UK.
Since this feature first appeared I have been waiting for the moment when
I would be asked to do it, constantly revising my choice of restaurants to
give the impression of myself as a well-travelled sophisticate.   However
now that the moment has come what seems to be most important to me in a
restaurant  is proximity to my house.  Salaam Namaste is literally the
nearest restaurant to my front door but luckily there is more to recomend
it than that.  In an unpretentious way it serves superb food from
different regions of the Indian sub-continent, such as Rajasthan, Goa,
Punjab, Kerala, Kashmir and Hyderabad.


Bar Noche Azul.  Calle de Cristobal Colon,  Talara,  Granada Province. Spain.
This is the nearest bar to my house in Spain; they give minimal tapas
except on Sundays when there is free roast pork from a special pork
roasting machine that the owner spends all week tending.  They also have a
sign outside which says “Roast Chicken to Take Awey.”  but in ten years I
have never seen them cook a chicken. It is funny though, to watch English
tourists trying to buy one and being met with blank incomprehension.


Sfizio.  35-37 Theobalds  Road. London  WC1 UK.
This bar/cafe down the road is run by two Venezuelan brothers and their
sister whose parents come from Sicily.   By day it is a patisserie with
gorgeous cakes and pizzas while at night it becomes a continental bar
largely populated by Italian City workers.   The owners are so welcoming
and kind that they cheerfully indulge me in my delusion that I can speak
Spanish.


Chelsea Arts Club.  Old Church Street.  London SW3.
I apologise for this disgraceful piece of ponsiness since to eat at the
arts club you either have to be a member or the guest of a member but it
is probably my favourite restaurant.  It serves terrific and ambitious
cooking in a candlelit  room lined with old paintings and old artists.


Steve’s.  Ashfield Road.  Aigburth Vale.  Liverpool L17.
This chip shop is the nearest to my mum’s house.  Over the years it  has
evolved into something much more.  I think the staff are Greek but you can
glimpse a little Chinese man slaving over a flaming wok in the kitchen
cooking the oriental dishes.  The menu ranges from  Afelia through sausage
dinners to chicken Satay and over the years the patrons have begun to mix
it all in a riotous melange. My favourite takeaway is steak pie and chips 
covered in curry sauce;  this meal  with its Lancashire Hollands' pie,
Liverpool chips and Chinese curry sauce is a finer example of
Pan-Asian/Euro fusion than you’d get at Nobu in Mayfair and a hundred
tiimes cheaper.


Meson La Despensa del Valle.  Restabal.  Valle de Lecrin.  Granada
Province. Spain.
The upstairs bar  does some of the best tapas in the valley while the
restaurant, with its all-woman brigade, serves excellent Andalucian
cuisine such as their wood oven roasted lamb.  Two years ago I got them to
cater the party I was told I had to throw for the workers who built my
house.  I spent so much on the party that the owner offered me a free meal
but I haven’t  been there to eat it yet and I fear the statute of
limitations may have expired.

Saturday
Nov292008

Blog No.4

That’ll teach me to be self-deprecating on the web.  Judging by recent posts I may have given some of you the impression that my bookreadings last week were poorly attended.  The sole reason I gave that impression was that I wanted to tell the story of my wife saying “would you go and see you give a book reading?”  In fact there have been hundreds of people at quite a number of my readings....now I sound defensive don’t I?  Oh God! and this will still be on the web in a hundred years.   I may have to book myself a reading tour in gigantic venues like the O2 centre and the Liverpool Arena then go around posting “sold out” notices everywhere, to dispel the growing impression of my unpopularity.  To fill the empty seats I might have to use inflatable sex dolls or possibly cats, I’m not sure yet.

When we were in a taxi in Leeds (more than 120 people at my reading in the Art Gallery) heading for a radio station to do an interview I said to my publicist Henry “I notice suede pixie boots are making a comeback.”

“No,” he replied “...that’s just the same girl you’ve seen twice.”

I have definitely noticed, over the last few years more people wearing shorts in the winter, I don’t think it’s the same guy I’m seeing over and over again.  But what’s up with that?  For some reason when I see a guy’s hairy legs on the street between September and May I’m put in mind of Eric Gill. Gill was a sculptor and engraver (he did Prospero and Ariel outside  BBC Broadcasting House) who had an intense loathing for typewriters, Bird's custard powder, contraception and most violently of all trousers, which he said constricted and degraded "man's most precious ornament".   Instead of trousers Gill wore loose fitting woollen shorts that he wove himself. He was also an adulterer, committed incest with his daughters and had sexual relations with the family dog.

Monday
Nov242008

Blog No.3

I’m back from my publicity tour of Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle and Glasgow.

Things went pretty well, I did lots of interviews with local newspapers, TV and radio while in the evenings I did bookreadings and signings at either libraries or independent cinemas.

Plenty of people came to see me, though sometimes the rooms chosen were a little large so they weren’t necessarily completely full.  I was moaning about this to my wife when I got back and she said “Let’s face it, would you go and see you do a book reading?” and I had to admit I wouldn’t.   I’d want to, don’t get me wrong.  I’d see the poster in the local bookshop and I’d think “Wow, Alexei Sayle’s coming here to Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle or Glasgow.  I think he’s great, he’s managed to make the transition from light entertainment superstar to serious novelist whose work is comparable with Tolstoy. I bet he’s got some truly illuminating things to say about the human condition as well as a funny story about when he acted in Doctor Who in 1987.”  I might even get a ticket if they were free but on the evening of the reading there’d be a pie that needed eating before its expiry date or an episode of Scrubs on E4 that I hadn’t seen so I wouldn’t go.  Then I’d really regret it. 

I beg you not to make the same mistake as me.  Take a look at my remaining dates and for God’s sake go!

The oddest thing happened just before I went on to do my reading at the Broadway cinema in Nottingham.  I was standing in the foyer and I heard a voice say “Alexei?”  I turned to see Samantha Morton two time Golden Globe winner, Oscar nominee and star of Minority Report, Sweet and Lowdown and Longford.  “Hey Alexei” she said “...we worked together on Tom Jones do you remember?”

“Gleep?” I replied, so surprised that I was unable to formulate any sensible words.

“No I’m not coming to see you doing your book reading,” she replied, “I’m directing my first film and we’re viewing rushes.”

“Bloop.”

“Yes it was lovely to see you too...well bye.”

“Nargle.”

“Yes I agree Philip Roth is probably the greatest writer of the Twentieth century...so see you soon.”

“Blick.”

I work with words that’s what I do

Wednesday
Nov192008

Blog No.2

First of all let me thank everybody who’s posted, I’m not sure I’ll be
able to e mail anybody direct but  do keep sending, it gives me the
illusion that things are happening in my life.  Actually some things are,
recently I’ve noticed people seemed to be making noises as they pass me in
the street, an Oriental man went “Gaak” as we passed by each other and
another man appeared to say something like, “ Greamy munfunu eek”.  This
is reassuring, previously I’d thought it was just me who did this sort of
thing - shouting out nonsense in public or making weird hand gestures at
the opera.  I often look up in a railway carriage or on the bus to find
everybody looking at me and an odd gargling noise fading away in the air. 
Now I don’t want to claim, Stephen Fry-like, that I have some sort of
illness: I’m just odd is all.
I’ve been comissioned to write the first volume of my memoirs and I’m
thinking of calling it “What’s He Doing Now?”   This is a remark my wife’s
mother made when we were in the centre of Liverpool and she noticed that
while I was holding her daughter’s hand I was also walking with the
bandy-legged gait of a chimpanzee.
.
I went on Sky News with Adam Boulton on Sunday to plug my new book Mister
Roberts and just before we went on air he told me that he’d actually
stayed in my house, this threw me a bit, I had heard noises in the loft
but I thought it was squirrels not Sky newsreaders.  Turns out he meant my
house in Spain, we rented it over the summer to a couple and they were
friends of his and he’d spent four days there.  This made me uneasy, I
wondered if he could deduce anything about me from my choice of seat
coverings or the untensils in my kitchen drawer, I bet he could and that’s
why he’s Sky’s main political correspondent.

A few weeks ago In another desperate attempt to broaden my demographic, ,
I made a film for MTV all about Liverpool’s illustrious musical history.  
I must admit that when I went into MTV’s headquarters for post-production
I was a little disappointed. Given that it is located in Hawley Crescent,
Camden Town the epicentre of drug- crazed musical madness, I thought there
would certainly be an in-house tattoo parlour and nipple-piercing facility
with a built-in vodka bar and I was convinced all the staff would be
behaving like Amy Winehouse or Pete Docherty: constantly falling over or
crying in corners with blood from self-harming wounds seeping through
their clothes.
On the contrary it all felt disturbingly tame. Partly this is because
Terry Farrel’s iconic GMTV studio has not aged well, back when it was
built its bright colours and angular lines seemed to be the epitome of the
frivolous and big-shouldered 1980’s but  now, perhaps due to the fact that
its architectural features have been incorporated into the mainstream the
building has the atmosphere and appearance of an already-falling-to-bits 
PPI funded comprehensive school from the late 90’s while the employees all
seemed like young teachers who’d stayed behind after hours to catch up on
a bit of marking.  It wouldn’t have happened in my day.

Saturday
Nov012008

My first blog!

So finally I’m dragging myself into the late 90’s by getting my very own website, actually written by me.   I've been driven to do this by my increasingly large presence on the web - none of which I have anything to do with.   I’m using .me because Alexei Sayle.com has been taken by a man who hates me, he also wrote a lot of my Wikepedia entry judging
by the glowing references to him contained within it compared with the lukewarm refences to me.

 

The next choice .co.uk does belong to me but the agency that's looking after it has collapsed and the woman who's in charge of it is never in the office


There’s also something called "The Alexei Sayle Website" which is run by some woman I don't know, who doesn't seem to know much about me either.  Plus I’ve  just found out I have a myspace music page that I don’t know anything about.  Maybe I have blackouts where I go around opening things about myself on the internet.


It feels a bit odd, doing this, a bit like writing a column without getting paid.  I suppose at least since it's free you don’t have to maintain the usual lembels of profossionalizm. And of course the least you can do is buy some of my product.  Most importantly my new novel Mister Roberts is out on November 11th and I was very excited to see that in the
trade paper “The Bookseller” out of six booksellers they asked, two recomended my book as their pick for November.
One said “Humourous in tone but full of hidden depths....this very funny tale warns against the misuse of power” while the other said “A funny, warm and weird novel”  If you can’t wait for that there are my other books, DVDs and range of snowshoes.  It’s all on the other page.


I’ll also try and keep you up to date with my erratic public appearances and most importantly I’ll try and update my blog with a Lily Allenesque frequency, I think there’s nothing more dispiriting than to look at somebody’s website and their last blog entry says they’re just getting ready to attend the coronation of King George the 7th.


Writing the previous bit just got me thinking;  of course I’ve known Lily’s dad Keith since the early days of alternative comedy and I know Lily’s mum Alison even better and like her more, so it’s one of the great regrets of my life that over the years I paid absolutely no attention to their children.  If I had  then I’d have some great stories to tell you about the time I babysat Lilly and she was sick or the time I took Alfie to a football match and he got sick but I didn’t so I haven’t.


Nevertheless I’m glad I've done this page: I’ve never been  one of those "I'm happy to be old-fashioned and I wrote this blog with a quill pen and ink made out of crushed tortoises" kind of person,  in truth I've been ashamed of my inability to get with the modern world by not having a website. I don't go along with any of that "Grumpy Old Men/Women" nostalgia and its assumption that modern life is awful. First, it's lazy comedy, but also, it's clearly not true - for most of us in the West, modern life is fantastic.


To me, that kind of longing for a golden age and its inherent presumption that the ill-defined and hazy past contained some ideal epoch that has been sullied by the impact of social progress, foreign influences and restrictive laws on unrestrained behaviour, is clearly reactionary. Indeed, this longing for a prelapsarian utopia is essentially fascistic. The religious fanatics of al-Qa'ida wish to return to an entirely fictional ideal of a "pure" Islam that existed before being contaminated by progressive European ideas such as sexual equality and religious freedom, and before Hitler changed the title of his book Mein Kampf from "Is Everything Around Here Controlled by a Cabal of Blood Sucking Jews or is it Just Me?"


We truly  live in an era of marvels, the greatest of which after the internet  is undoubtedly the defining phenomenon of the modern era: All You Can Eat Buffets. Those of you who've forgotten the pre-All You Can Eat Buffet epoch won't know how, in restaurants up until the Eighties, there was such a penny-pinching attitude that you were charged extra for how many knives, forks and spoons you used, so diners would try to eat the whole meal with one tiny teaspoon. With their inherent qualities of egalitarianism and value for money these places embody all that is good about the Enlightenment.  The philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau would certainly have approved of All You Can Eat Buffets and would probably have been a regular at Spice Mania when he was in Leeds and that Indian veggie place in Islington's Chapel Market that's an amazing £2.95 for all the curried sprouts you can cram down your neck.  (I wrote about this place in a newspaper a while ago and the next time I visited they’d built a little shrine to me and I got my meal for free, saving myself £2.95.  But then the next time I visited the shrine was gone).  If there’s a demand I might add Alexei Sayle shrines to the things you can buy.


Also from time to time I’ll post some of my old columns if I still find them funny.


See you soon.
Alexei

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