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The Retired Re-fresher: why I spend my spare time thinking about prostitutes, murder, affairs and pregnancy

This term finds me back at square one with what feels like more pressure than I experienced in term one.

This is down to the merry TV Fiction Writing crew being given more assignments and more homework. Worse still, we have a lecturer who thinks for a living.

He informs us that approximately 2.1 people read his papers and I now know why after ploughing through two hours of his musings on German philosophers at 9am on a Monday morning. I think that, in the main, he thinks too hard but nevertheless, I am now learning about phenomenology and acts of consciousness (or unconsciousness in my case...).

In my view, all the ologies in academia seem to stem from academics giving names to things that already happen. They spend a lot of time thinking it all through before slapping a label on it for good measure.

As a linguist, this guy also studies international soap operas for a living!

I am now busy analysing new subject-matter in the shape of long-running Channel 4 soap, Hollyoaks. This follows hot-on-the-heels of total immersion in BBC1's Doctors, which I tried very hard to love. Now I'm sharing that little piece of love with Hollyoaks. We did, however, have a visit from a past graduate who now works as a story-liner for Hollyoaks. More evidence that students from the course do well.

I spend my spare time thinking about prostitutes, murders, affairs, pregnancy and sundry other ills that can fall to modern man and woman. They say soaps reflect the culture of the nation. Well, I'm not sure where I have been the last 60 years however this year, I've visited cyber space, post modernist society and today I'm improving my mental furniture!

In other news, my assignment results haven't been great this new year. One lecturer described my adaptation of a James Thurber story as 'completely bizarre, madcap and surreal.'

I have to say that I took that as a compliment. It would appear I have no ability to structure in a formulaic fashion, so am going to have to knuckle down to that ASAP.

I do find it difficult loving all the stuff I have come to know as 'trite write', especially when we are trying to construct a 'reality paradigm'. Either way - as you can see - I don't know what I am talking and writing about any more!

My other academic lecturer is writing a paper on what constitutes happiness. One of my fellow students tells me he has only ever been happy one time in his life. I'm not surprised. Soap Land isn't a particularly happy place to be!

We all went to watch TV at lecturer Ann Marie Di Mambro's house as she had written a fantastic episode of the BBC1 drama,Waterloo Road. Further evidence that the people who run this TV Fiction Writing course DO know what they are talking about.

Another visitor was a well-known Scottish TV producer who gave us the usual lowdown on how difficult, nay impossible, it is to get anything made if people talk in a Scottish accent.

The rest of the UK are terrified apparently of hearing the Scots speak in their living rooms and there's Alex Salmond worrying about Yes votes! He might be better commissioning a network Scottish drama as part of his promotional campaign.

Our last visitor was a Glasgow hard man with a soft centre, who came to talk about prostitution in Glasgow. He informed us that when TV tough man, Ross Kemp, from Sky's Extreme World came to Glasgow to film a homeless gaff, he was told to put the plate of sandwiches on the table and leave.

Kemp allegedly chose to ignore this advice and strolled off, followed by a hijacked boom mic that was no longer attached to a sound engineer.

In reply to Kemp's boast that he'd met the Afghanistan Taliban, he was informed : "Aww, is that right son? I'm the Glaswegian Taliban!" which was swiftly followed by a punch on the face.

Our man had to rescue him and drive him off. Kemp was now without his anti bacterial hand wash, his wallet, two-way radio and mobile phone… and his abandoned film crew, which he suddenly remembered a mile down the road before having to make a return journey to pick them up.

Could this be ontology? Subtitle: The Theory of Being An Extreme Wuss!

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