Jenni Davidson

Jenni Davidson

Monday, 18 September 2017 10:28

For the benefit of the tape

I have to say I found creating a blog exceptionally diffiicult. My areas of interest seem to be flooded with blogs, often lifestyle based. I found it really difficult to think of an original way to approach my topic. I thought as I write fiction. I would create a fictious character who is always being arrested for being a parent. Below is my first attempt. I've written it as a playscript. Not sure if this would work as a blog. 

For the benefit of the tape
(Two police officers are sitting across from the accused – a 30-something hippie. Nose-rings and tats).
Sergeant: Sergeant Makepeace and DC Carter interviewing Miss, Charlene Understood. Miss Understood…’
Charline: ‘Mrs.’
Sergeant: ‘I apologise. Mrs.’
Charline: ‘Charline’s fine.’
Sergeant: ‘Charline. Kids with your mum again?
(Charline nods).
Sergeant: ‘For a pacifist, you seem to be here an awful lot.’
Charline: ‘It’s not my fault.’
Sergeant: ‘It never is. So, what happened this time?’
Charline: It was that stupid cow.
DC: (Chuckling) good start.
Charline: The baby was just screaming and screaming and it was doing her head in.
Sergeant: Then why are you arrested for threatening behaviour?
Charline: I don’t mind the noise. I hear it all the time. (The police officers are confused). The old lady just kept going on. Saying she…
DC: The baby’s mum?
Charline: Yes. The baby’s mum should smack the baby. She said it wasn’t like that in her day. All her kids were very quiet. Because you’d get a smacked bottom if you weren’t.
Sergeant: And?
Charline: Well I said that I prefer a world where kids are not assaulted. Then she said a smacked bum does no harm – and stops the racket.
DC: Then?
Charline: I said how would she like it if I smacked her? Would she think it does no harm then?
Sergeant: So, you threatened to hit an 80-year-old?
Charline: Well she realised how harmful it would be!
My audience: 50yr old male - feels younger. Divorced, 2 children. Educated - works as a teacher. White, Liverpool man, politically active. Lives alone, hates sheeple, likes football. votes Labour. Enjoys real ale and 70s and 80s music. 

The Blog:

So, political participation is, in no small part, hereditary – at least according the findings of a twin study Fowler, Baker, and Dawes (2008). We don’t just vote because we watched our parents take a stand for what they believed – we share a common genetic influence that compels us to vote.
Alternatively, if you barely notice the endless political campaigning and haven’t even registered to vote, you were probably genetically predisposed to this apathy. Further studies have even identified which genes influence our level of political participation (Fowler and Dawes, 2008; Dawes and Fowler, 2009).
If our genes are telling us how we contribute to society, and we get our genes from our parents, and they from there’s, then are we in a never-ending cycle of politics? Are we repeating the same political rhetoric, to involve the same type of people to vote? Presently, it is easy to see the similarities between today and my parents’ political landscape of the nineteen eighties – right wing leaders in Britain and America, threats of terror, rioting, protest; the list goes on.
Is there any hope for a change? Fowler and Dawes (2009) found that genetic predispositions can be influenced by external factors, citing religious attendance as a mediating factor in political participation. They believe that religious groups stimulate political activity.
I must admit that I come from a family of politically astute people, active in politics and I don’t doubt that there may be some genetic predisposition. I haven’t always voted in a similar way to my parents and don’t always agree with their politics. But every election, I take my twins to the voting booth to register my viewpoint, however statistically insignificant it turns out to be.
How do we get those who are not genetically predisposed to vote, to register their opinion? I’m not suggesting that everyone get involved in a faith, but we need to look at other mediating factors. Jeremy Corbyn was very successful at appealing to younger voters through social media. He roused them into action at concerts and youth participation rose significantly in the last election.
What has prompted you to vote?
Do you agree that we are genetically predisposed to voting? 

cite refs. 
[Dialogue piece for Jeff. Formatted for radio drama - hasn't transferred well on this page, I will print off properly]
 
1. INT. HALLWAY, SCOTLAND ROAD FLAT (JANUARY 1980) - DAY
LAUGHTER FROM MUSIC HALLS, LAUGHTER FROM LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT SHOWS, CANNED LAUGHTER FROM A STUDIO SIT COM, LAUGHTER FROM A MODERN COMEDY VENUE, FAMILY LAUGHING IN THE HOME.
 
GREAT NAN (75, 5ft tall with a commanding presence), NAN (52, VERY TALL, LOOKS YOUNG FOR HER AGE) MUM (21, TALL, STILL SUBSERVIANT TO HER ELDERS) AND AUNTIE (30, 5FT, KNOWS HER PLACE) ARE SITTING ROUND A TABLE IN THE KITCHEN WITH THEIR AFTERNOON TEA. A NAUGHTY FOUR-YEAR-OLD IS HUMMING TO HERSELF BUT LISTENING INTENTLY.
 
Great nan:                 She’s a funny one, that one.
 
LAUGHTER OF AGREEMENT. TEA BEING POURED INTO CUPS.
 
Narrator:                    They always laughed after the fact. Never at the time. Then it was shouts and screams and what’s wrong with you. But when the dust had settled, the laughter poured out of them like the tea from the teapot.
Great nan:                 I don’t know where she gets it from.
 
THE OTHERS HUMPH INDIGNANTLY AT THE STATEMENT.
 
Narrator:                     It was just a plastic statue. I didn’t know it was her only relic from her one and only pilgrimage to Lourdes. I was thirsty and I couldn’t reach the tap. I thought they’d would have realised that when I fed them toilet water in my toy teapot.
 
A TOY TEAPOT BEING DIPPED INTO TOILET AND POURED INTO TOY CUPS. SCREAMS FROM THE ADULTS.

2. INT. LIVING ROOM, KIRKBY, IN FRONT OF THE TV - NIGHT
 
NAN, MUM, AUNTIE AND NAUGHTY FOUR-YEAR-OLD ARE SITTING IN FRONT OF THE TV. THERE IS A RERUN OF THE FROST REPORT ON – THE ‘I LOOK UP TO HIM’ SKETCH. THE FAMILY LAUGH.
 
Narrator:            I know my place!
 
THE PHONE RINGS. AUNTIE ANSWERS IT. SHE CRIES LOUDLY.
 
3. INT. HALLWAY, SCOTLAND ROAD FLAT (JANUARY 1980) – NIGHT
 
NAUGHTY-FOUR -YEAR OLD IS PLAYING WITH THE SPOONS FROM THE CUTLERY DRAW. SHE’S LISTENING TO THE TO THE ADULTS IN THE KITCHEN SOBBING INTO THEIR MUGS OF TEA.
 
Nan:                No last rights. It would kill her to know that!
 
Auntie:             And her holy water gone – thanks to her!
 
Mum:               Leave her alone. She’s just a baby.
 
Auntie:             Nearly thirty years she had that.
 
THEY TURN ON THE RADIO. RADIO 4 IS PLAYING SOME OF THE BEST OF MONTY PYTHON. THE DEAD PARROT SKETCH IS ON "SHE IS A DEAD PARROT. SHE HAS CEASED TO BE”.
 
[Dialogue piece for Jeff. Formatted for radio drama - hasn't transferred well on this page, I will print off properly]
 
1. INT. HALLWAY, SCOTLAND ROAD FLAT (JANUARY 1980) - DAY
LAUGHTER FROM MUSIC HALLS, LAUGHTER FROM LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT SHOWS, CANNED LAUGHTER FROM A STUDIO SIT COM, LAUGHTER FROM A MODERN COMEDY VENUE, FAMILY LAUGHING IN THE HOME.
 
GREAT NAN (75, 5ft tall with a commanding presence), NAN (52, VERY TALL, LOOKS YOUNG FOR HER AGE) MUM (21, TALL, STILL SUBSERVIANT TO HER ELDERS) AND AUNTIE (30, 5FT, KNOWS HER PLACE) ARE SITTING ROUND A TABLE IN THE KITCHEN WITH THEIR AFTERNOON TEA. A NAUGHTY FOUR-YEAR-OLD IS HUMMING TO HERSELF BUT LISTENING INTENTLY.
 
Great nan:                 She’s a funny one, that one.
 
LAUGHTER OF AGREEMENT. TEA BEING POURED INTO CUPS.
 
Narrator:                    They always laughed after the fact. Never at the time. Then it was shouts and screams and what’s wrong with you. But when the dust had settled, the laughter poured out of them like the tea from the teapot.
Great nan:                 I don’t know where she gets it from.
 
THE OTHERS HUMPH INDIGNANTLY AT THE STATEMENT.
 
Narrator:                     It was just a plastic statue. I didn’t know it was her only relic from her one and only pilgrimage to Lourdes. I was thirsty and I couldn’t reach the tap. I thought they’d would have realised that when I fed them toilet water in my toy teapot.
 
A TOY TEAPOT BEING DIPPED INTO TOILET AND POURED INTO TOY CUPS. SCREAMS FROM THE ADULTS.

2. INT. LIVING ROOM, KIRKBY, IN FRONT OF THE TV - NIGHT
 
NAN, MUM, AUNTIE AND NAUGHTY FOUR-YEAR-OLD ARE SITTING IN FRONT OF THE TV. THERE IS A RERUN OF THE FROST REPORT ON – THE ‘I LOOK UP TO HIM’ SKETCH. THE FAMILY LAUGH.
 
Narrator:            I know my place!
 
THE PHONE RINGS. AUNTIE ANSWERS IT. SHE CRIES LOUDLY.
 
3. INT. HALLWAY, SCOTLAND ROAD FLAT (JANUARY 1980) – NIGHT
 
NAUGHTY-FOUR -YEAR OLD IS PLAYING WITH THE SPOONS FROM THE CUTLERY DRAW. SHE’S LISTENING TO THE TO THE ADULTS IN THE KITCHEN SOBBING INTO THEIR MUGS OF TEA.
 
Nan:                No last rights. It would kill her to know that!
 
Auntie:             And her holy water gone – thanks to her!
 
Mum:               Leave her alone. She’s just a baby.
 
Auntie:             Nearly thirty years she had that.
 
THEY TURN ON THE RADIO. RADIO 4 IS PLAYING SOME OF THE BEST OF MONTY PYTHON. THE DEAD PARROT SKETCH IS ON "SHE IS A DEAD PARROT. SHE HAS CEASED TO BE”.
 
Monday, 28 August 2017 14:05

What do you want with your chips?

A potato, cheddar cheese and half a tin of sweetcorn. That was all that was in the fridge in my new home. 1995. Nineteen years-old. I was about to start university and, even more significantly, to live with my boyfriend of two years. He had moved to London two months before and found us a beautiful, but incredibly small flat to live in. 

I grew up in Kirkby, Merseyside, It was (and still is) one of the poorest areas of Britain. A sixties new town that turned into a poverty blackspot in the eighties - inspiration for writers such as Alan Bleasdale and Willy Russell. The drab, 'ordinary' lives they portrayed were my real-life existence. In fact, when Boys from the Blackstuff was first aired in 1982, every child in my school spent the next few months shouting 'Gis a job, I can do that.' 

I was the second daughter of a teenaged single mum, who still lived with her parents. My grandad did all the cooking. He asked us every night 'what do you want with your chips'. Food was something to sate my appetite - nothing more. We moved from my grand-parents’ home into a small flat when I was eleven. We lived with my mother's sister and her son. My auntie did all the cooking and like her father before her, it was chips with everything. Occasionally we would be adventurous and have chopped up pork shoulder with special fried rice straight from the freezer. Convenience food was as big as the microwaves that cooked them and Bernard Matthews was very popular in my house. 

My boyfriend picked me up from Euston Station. He splashed out for a taxi to our new home. I stepped out of the taxi into another world. I would say that I had never seen anything like the building I was about to live in but that would be inaccurate. My family are big fans of Agatha Christie's Poirot, and I was about to live in a studio flat in the building in which it was filmed. Florin Court, Charterhouse Square. Like the television series, my life suddenly felt unreal. How could I move from my council estate into Zone One? My boyfriend was a cinema manager at the time, not a great wage, and we would both have to work hard to pay the £650 per month rent bill and I didn't yet have a job.

My grand tour of the building began with in the basement. A swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and gym - all open to residents. Then the roof garden - a quiet oasis in the bustling city with a panoramic view of Central London. Every major landmark could be seen; from Canary Wharf, to the Oxo Tower, to Centre Point. I had arrived, literally on top of the world. Then I walked into my new home. It was no bigger than an average Victorian lounge but it had everything we needed: a tiny bathroom and kitchen, a sofa bed and the oddest black wardrobe that opened like a bread bin. Then my boyfriend had to go to work and I was alone, for the first time in my life.
.
And in the fridge was a potato, cheese and a tin of sweetcorn. It was only then that I realised that I wasn't prepared for this. I wasn't prepared to be alone in a massive city. I wasn't prepared to be independent. I had grown up in busy, chaotic households and the silence was deafening and the responsibility overwhelming. I had cooked the odd meal for my family but nothing special. I looked at the tiny microwave in the kitchen to see if I could make sense of it. It was a combination oven/microwave so it completely threw me. I could have gone out and found somewhere to eat - there is always somewhere to find food in London. But I didn't even have the confidence to do that. I battled with the microwave on my own until I managed to bake the potato - I was sick of eating chips. I found a small grater in one of the cupboards, grated the cheese on top and I mushed the sweetcorn into the cheese. I sat on the couch with the first meal I properly cooked myself and I ate it in front of the TV, to drown out the silence. 

I wish I could say that from that moment on, my confidence grew and I became comfortable in my new surroundings. But the truth is I never really felt a part of this environment. I learned to adapt to the silence and be independent, as I have learned to cook more interesting and nutritious meals, but I remained a spectator in a world I didn't belong. I was living in my own episode of Poirot, without the whodunit. Like my culinary skills, I felt I lacked the class or sophistication to blend into this world.