Friday
Dec192008

Blog No.6

If I’ve been a bit quiet it’s because last week I was in Liverpool.  While I was there I did a couple of events I forgot to mention I’d be doing.  One was at the Bluecoat Arts Centre on the 5th of December. I was there because I contributed a short story to an anthology called Reberth, this is part of a project entitled Cities on the Edge  which tries to link artists in cities that have a similar “outsider” feel to them.  Cities such as Gdansk, Marseilles, Naples and Liverpool.  There was a reading then a Q&A from three writers, one from Gdansk, a woman from Naples and me.  Typically for Liverpool there was a lot of shouting out from the audience, most of the shouters were people I had interviewed for my documentary though the woman from Naples was also heckled by the Italian Consul.   My story entitled “Bread Circuses and Replica Shirts” is one of those that is a real pleasure to read out aloud because, I think, it’s funny and  its got lots of different voices in it. On the 10th I also did a signing at the new Waterstones in the Liverpool One centre which went very well and there were mince pies and wine. That’s it for me now and appearances, I think my next appearance will be the Laugharn Festival in April, though I am doing a workshop for people who started writing in prison, for the Arvon Centre in March.   But if you wanted to come to that you’d have to commit a crime, go to prison, begin writing, come out and then get on the course, so its up to you really. There may be other appearances that come up and I will try to remember to put them in the appearances section of this website which is sort of the point really. Back in London I notice that my nearest off licence has started selling fruit and in fact off licences all over Camden seem to be doing the same thing.  Tony Blair was right after all, things can only get better.  Over the last few years I have noticed a couple of exciting innovations in the fruit retaling business, firstly there seem to be a lot more fruit stalls in Central London (is there a goverment grant available?) the second innovation is “The Scoop”.  I first noticed The Scoop in the late 90’s in Berwick Street Market in Soho - big bowls of slightly odd sized fruit sold for the single price of a pound.  Now the concept has spread to outside off licences which is a good thing.  I am very much in favour of The Scoop, sometimes you can get as many as 25 bananas for a pound.  Of course it can be a bit of a lottery, I did once buy a consignment of plums from a stall in Leather Lane market that tasted slightly of fish but those are the breaks, the fruit is still a lot cheaper than you’d buy in the supermarket and of course because it is being sold on market stalls or independent grog shops it all helps challenge the grip that the big supermarkets have on food retailing.   It’s a funny a thing that these days when you buy something from a sandwich bar or a fruit stall, the paper bag you get your purchases in always seems to have an advert for some dot. com company or website printed on it in cheap colours?  What’s going on here?  Is there some attempted ironic juxterposition between the determinedly low tech nature of a paper bag with slightly gone off tangerines in it and the futuristic complexities of the internet, or is advertising just dead cheap on the sides of paper bags?   Would I be better off writing my blog on the side of a paper bag? And while on the subject of sandwich bars it might be a good time to talk about my imaginary sandwich bar.  During the time when I have been writing columns in newspapers or magazines I would occasionally mention in passing, events that had happened in a sandwich bar that I owned.   These events were always fictitious, although I have met several people over the years who’ve told me they’ve been to my sandwich bar.   There’s a sequence which we didn’t use in the end in my documentary of me telling the Duke of Westminster in his one billion pound Liverpool One development that it would be an ideal place for my imaginary sandwich bar, he just acts confused.   Anyway I thought I might extend my non-existent business venture to the net, so that now I can announce I will be not taking orders for your Christmas party, I can not do selections of any size from ten people to a hundred including our famous Mexican Feast and our Taste of the Balkans platter.  Please not order now. Actually when you think about it  my imaginary sandwich bar is rather like the internet, you can’t make any money out of it and its not what it seems.   In fact this website is not what it seems, it’s not even written by Alexei Sayle, he contracts out the writing of his blog to a giant blog-writing centre in Chennai Southern India.  These words are written by me, my name is Anand and I have a degree in media studies from Calcutta University but I can still only get a job masquerading as a fat failure of a comedian who thinks he can write books for five dollars a day, and they treat us very badly here, they check up on us all the time and they....ow...ow...not the cattle prod...ow!

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.