Wednesday
Aug182010

Blog No. 40

As well as the extract in the Sunday Times I've just had a look at the finished copy of Stalin Ate My Homework.  Which looks great.  So great I thought I'd run a special offer.  If you pre-order the book by the 27th of August and send some kind of proof to the email address that comes with this site I'll send you a signed drawing.  In the book I talk about how my parents were always remarkably keen to take me to see Santa in his grotto at Lewis’ department store, I suppose they felt that Santa was a lot like Stalin.  Their names were sort of similar and they were both, kindly-looking,  rotund gentlemen with facial hair and red uniforms and ther headquarters were located in the Northern snowy wastes and were based upon a system of slave labour.  So I thought I'd do a drawing of "Stanta"  a cross between Stalin and Santa for all you lucky pre-orderers. 

p.s.  Evelyn why are you in China and what is is it you're asking me about?

 

Blog 40a.

Well in response to your question Evelyn I would say that its generally accepted that the era of the Main Battle Tank (MBT) such as the T90, M2 Abrams or Challenger 2 is over and the North Koreans are going down a blind alley in building their own (apart from all the other blind alleys they are going down).  There is however an account in "Stalin Ate My Homework" (which you have very sensibly pre-ordered) of how I came to be obsessed with military hardware.

Tuesday
Aug172010

Blog No. 39

There will be a big extract from my memoir in the Sunday Times Magazine this Sunday the 22nd.  Apart from extracts from the book there are also family photos of me as a child which even I find perplexing as to how that sweet looking infant grew up into me .

Saturday
Jul312010

Blog No. 38

In the run-up to the launch of the memoir I don’t have that much to do and I was thinking of getting back into doing a bit of volunteering.  (By the way  this is my advertising tagline for the memoir “If You buy one book this Christmas then please buy mine as well.”) years ago I used to garden once a week at an eco-park near my home, then later at another place in Greenwich.  However the last time I tried it didn’t go so well.  About four or five years ago I began gardening with a group from a homeless charity I had worked with.  These hostel dwellers were being eased back into society by fulfilling contracts for councils and urban parks, mostly filling flower baskets and preparing bulbs for planting on roundabouts and roadsides.   On my first day I put a great deal of thought into what I was going to wear and when I arrived all the homeless men congratulated me on getting my street sleeper look just right, bomber jacket, big boots, baseball cap.   Then a little later on in the day, by accident I was left for a while in a polytunnel that had just been coated with some highly noxious chemicals.  Once the the guy in charge had found me and let me out I imagine that a passersby seeing me reeling about, shouting and falling down in the park  must have thought to themselves: “Poor Alexei Sayle, a few years ago he was on the telly and now  look at him homeless and drunk at 11.30 in the morning.” 

Russell I’m glad you’ve found out the difference between a Mac 10 and an Uzi.  The Mac 10 of course is connected with my greatest triumph.  I’m  sure I’ve written about it before but  in 1993 I was in a Showtime movie called “Deadly Currents”  Starring Bill Patterson and I think the last film of George C Scott.  I recorded it a while ago when it was on in the middle of the night on the TV and I’m actually not that bad in it.   In the end I get to fire a mac 10.  As there was no armourer on the film, one of the producers was doing the guns and when we came to do the scene he didn’t know how to cock the Mac 10 so I had to show him!  Which made me feel really good.

It’s interesting to hear about “Selling HItler” being released in the states.  For it I had to learn to forge Hitler’s signature as in one shot the director wanted me to do it on camera, in a scene when I was forging the diaries.  For a long time it was my party piece to produce Hilter’s signature with a flourish.

Wednesday
Jul212010

Blog No. 37

Well I must say the Udderbelly gig was really terrific.  They were a really great audience and the place was more or less full, about 400 people which is pretty good going for a book-reading for a book that isn’t out for two months.

The day after my reading I was back on the South Bank when I was made a Fellow of the University of the Arts.  The Unversity of the Arts is all the London art schools, Chelsea, St Martins, Camberwell and so on.   I wore a proper gown and hat and everything.  I didn’t want to say anything too encouraging in my speech so I told the audience of graduating students and their families about how Chelsea were going to throw me out after my first term until I made a short film cruelly mocking the teaching staff then they let me stay.

In this South Bank themed blog I am pleased to see the return of The South Bank Show to Sky Arts after it as cancelled by ITV.  I always longed to be on this pretentious arts show, it would have played to my intellectual vanity but I was never featured even though they had Ben Elton about seven times and Lenny Henry at least twice and now it's back maybe I’ll still have a chance.  I plan to begin my interview with a long diatribe against Melvin Bragg for not having me on sooner.

Monday
Jul122010

Blog No. 36

There was a very good preview, connected with the Udderbelly reading, of “Stalin...” in the Guardian” Guide on Saturday, it said “Surpisingly sensitive but also very funny...”   Which is exactly the quote you’d want if you were writing it yourself. Incidentallly I did check with them about the £17.50 ticket price but they said that’s the price they charge for everything so there was nothing I could do.  I can only promise, if you’re coming, that I’ll try not to be crap.

 

More importantly we’ve got a new cat!  Our beloved Tiger died three years ago and I’ve been grieving ever since but we heard through a friend a few weeks ago that a, lovely but clearly lost cat had turned up in the front garden of a friend of theirs and was refusing to leave.  They put up posters and checked with cat charities but nobody reported a cat matching his description missing so we brought him home on Saturday.  They’d actually called him Tiger but we’ve named him Wilf M’Banga after a Zimbabwean freedom fighter and journalist.  The guy whose garden he was living in, had been a journalist in what was then Rhodesia and had known the original Wilf M’Banga well.

 

Wilf seems to be a Main Coon cat, he is certainly huge with gigantic paws. I have always dreamed of running through the streets of London late at night with a pack of giant cats who would do my bidding or possibly riding a war chariot pulled by giant cats through the middle of the Hay Festival so this is stage one. 

 

It was funny refereeing that writers v scientists football match on the South Bank on my bicycle.  The organisers had said “Oh its all a laugh and nobody’s taking it at all seriously” but as soon as I tried to make a stupid joke during the game one of the players gave me such a look that after a couple of minutes I just left them to get on with it.  My only contribution was that since I wasn’t wearing a watch one half of the game was 11 minutes long and the other half 17.

 

I watched the semi-finals of the World Cup at my house in Spain, every time Spain scored the villagers would run out into the streets and fire rockets in the air then run inside again to carry on watching the game, so I can only imagine the noise last night, like a sort of fun invasion of Gaza.