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  • Archive for July, 2010

    3Ness: See it for yourself!


    2010 - 07.18

    3Ness: Booiaka!


    2010 - 07.18

    Slogans are in. On the bikes it was all about ‘don’t just ride, feel the Vibe!’ Saturday’s highlight, when I was awake, was jumping around, shaking my ass and shouting ‘Booiaka!’ No, I don’t know what it means either, but trust me, that stopped no-one.

    But my enthusiasm for Booiaka has me running ahead. Saturday was the morning of the alleged 6:30am run ‘with all presenters’, dubiously advertised as a ‘pain free morning activity for all before breakfast’. Let’s be fair: I was at 3Ness to experience the event. If the poor presenters had to be out of bed at 6:29am, I could be too. And besides, Paul had arranged a wake-up phone call to every single participant for 6am.

    Some people thought he was joking. I didn’t. I took my phone off the hook, set my alarm for 6:20am and justified an ‘early’ (ie midnight) bed time, sans party, based on an early morning. By 4am, when I still hadn’t slept a decent wink in the last four hours, I changed my alarm for 7:30am. Turns out my dedication has limits.

    So I missed the early morning run, but by the sounds of things, so did most people and most presenters. A lot of people did not miss the 6am wake up call though.

    As I dragged my sorry sleepless carcass to breakfast, I passed a dude working up to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine physique (fortunately minus sideburns) telling his mate about this immensely painful massage he’d endured on the Friday. The masseuse in question had hands of steel, if he was to be believed. Naturally I immediately concluded: I gotta get me one of them. 3Ness offers any number of pamper treatments, and it was my job, after all, to experience such delights. I made a booking for that afternoon. (more…)

    3Ness: Got the moves, just not the groove


    2010 - 07.08

    Your 3Ness weekend consists of hourly slots presenting a choice of 6 activities held in the massive conference rooms, outside, the pool or smaller therapy/lecture spaces. Friday offered three slots with seven on Saturday and four on Sunday. Theoretically, that’s a serious amount of boogeying. On arrival, like the big square I am, I took the final schedule straight to my room to work out exactly what I would be doing on every one of those 15 slots. Because yes, I planned to be at all of them. I like to think big, but if I only I had known…

    But on the Friday night Paul hosts a ‘meet the presenters’ session, which threw my careful planning into disarray. Paul is very careful about his choice of presenters, and it shows. A handful had even been flown in from the US just for 3Ness, and as they took it in turns to introduce their classes, I started circling, crossing, re-circling and exasperatedly scrawling all over my schedule until it looked like a really terrible child’s first drawing.

    That was after the first three sessions though. I started with Vibe cycle, which seemed a fairly safe option. I wasn’t brave enough to hit the dance floor yet, but cycling was both familiar and educational (I steal teaching ideas at all opportunities) and having got lost by the cycle room on my initial reconnaissance, I knew it was in a very small room which would heat up faster than a ring with Wolverine vs David Haye. In their underwear. When I arrived, I could have had any bike I wanted. I chose badly – about ten minutes into the class the left peddle started to feel a bit dodgy, and about 50 seconds after that, although it was still attached to my foot, it had given up its grip on the bike. That could have been a broken leg at speed or an expletive-inducing landing from a climb. (more…)

    Pitch Up – and throw up?!


    2010 - 07.08

    I still don’t quite believe I’m typing this, but you know that competition I entered on Sunday? The one where writers could win the chance to publicly humiliate themselves in front of BAFTA, the BBC, C4, Tiger Aspect and a room full of other writers? The one which I didn’t think my entry had been accepted into?

    Well luckily (or not, as the case may prove to be), I wrote a polite follow-up email on Tuesday, gently enquiring whether my entry had been accepted, given that I had not yet been asked to pay the fee. There had been some form of kerfuffle. I was sent a Paypal link and asked to pay it, like, straight away, because the entries had been like handed over to the judges. I paid. I emailed. The email bounced. I emailed again. I then cannot describe the surprise shock when, less than hour later, I got an email like this:


    From: Tom S
    Subject: Pitch Up – Congratulations

    Dear Pitcher

    I’m delighted to inform you that you have been selected as one of 10
    very lucky winners of Pitch Up and will be pitching live to our
    exclusive panel at BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly on 26th July.

    You will receive between 5-10 minutes of time to pitch and receive
    feedback. Pitches will be solely verbal.

    If you could aim to be there for 6.30pm for an initial briefing that
    would be great.

    Please email me back as soon as possible to acknowledge that you’ve
    received this email and that you are able to pitch on the night.

    In addition, you can bring one guest to the event so please let me
    know a name to put on the list.

    Congratulations again

    Tom S

    (more…)

    3Ness: Executive Style


    2010 - 07.07

    3Ness weekends run from Friday midday to Sunday 2pm, which is very civilised as one can theoretically sleep in (ie anything past 6am) on Friday and be home on Sunday in time for pre-birthday cocktails at Westbourne House.  But Friday had an discouraging start. A person investigating what it’s like to be a single chick at a 3Ness weekend, where my only duty would be to make friends and endure an extensive range of exercise, I first had a lesson on why Londoners don’t smile at, talk to or even look at, much less make friends with strangers.

    It was on the tube. I largely commute by bike, so found the underground to be sweltering even by 9:30am. On top of this experience of hardship shared with my fellow travellers, my train was afflicted by a driver with less motor-skill control than I displayed the first time I attempted to drive, and that’s saying something. At any rate, I’m Australian. I look at strangers, I smile at them, and certainly talk to them, provided they don’t look too frightening. As our train bunny-hopped its way out of Lancaster Gate station, I shared all of the above with a dude wearing a BBC lanyard. You never know, he might have been a key player in the drama or writers departments.

    Sods Law, he was not. He was tech support, and within about two stations, I realised he was more frightening – in that kind of slightly desperate, sweaty bachelor manner – than I had initially clocked. When he changed his route to match mine, I started to feel claustrophobic – crowded trains aside – and when he thought he’d get off at Euston to have a coffee with me before my train, I started to stammer in sheer terror. Lesson, ladies – don’t start up random conversations on public transport unless it’s with someone you’d actually like to have coffee with, just in case you otherwise have to start babbling about a fictional boyfriend who may be a boxer/vampire/high security prison inmate or dubious combination of all three. (more…)

    3Ness: Genesis


    2010 - 07.06

    I often wander around the Sky grounds in my gym gear – usually by accident, else by sheer laziness – which sometimes leads to curious conversations started by men in suits or otherwise more appropriate professional wardrobe. One afternoon, while advertising Adidas over my assets, I was the one to start the curious conversation with two men talking about instructors. I was sitting on the table next to them, and knew them from a brief conversation we’d had two weeks earlier when they’d curiously enquired about what it was I did for Sky while wearing gym kit and spending afternoons on my laptop in the canteen. Within about thirty-two seconds of inarticulate gabbling I am sure I had convinced them I was quite mad, or at the very least, ‘special’, but this shakey start did not deter me from butting into their dialogue. I believe the correct term is ‘networking’, and it worked extremely well, because it turns out that one of the men, Paul, runs 3Ness, a company that delivers popular luxury fitness holidays.

    My initial fantasy of becoming a luxury fitness holiday presenter in front of hundreds of people was swiftly punctured by Paul’s omission of the Les Mills systems from his schedule, but the weekends still sounded fabulous fun (I confess to a personality disorder whereby a vacation of relaxation by a pool is my idea of utter hell but kicking, punching, cycling and dancing my way through a break can only be brilliant), so I jokingly said that if I could come along for free, I’d write about it. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d write, or where it would go, but hey, details details. Whatever. What was jaw-droppingly surprising was that Paul said: you’re on. Which is why I ended up catching a train out to Nuneaton (nope, I hadn’t heard of it either. It’s Rubgy-way, which I can tell you because my iPhone is now connected to the internet, meaning I can be even more last-minute than ever but significantly less ignorant). (more…)

    Pitch Up


    2010 - 07.06

    I recently had a bad review on one of my books. It came from a friend, and I had been given reason to expect it was going to be bad about a month before it actually arrived, when I learned it was better described as terrible – but even this advanced warning didn’t prevent the inevitable tragic-artiste sulk that I am shamefully prone to.  I sulked. I evaded. I saw that there was an up-coming competition from BAFTA and Stella Network to pitch a TV project in front of a panel that included Ben Stephenson (controller of BBC Commissioning), Alastair Pegg (C4 factual entertainment commissioning editor) and Greg Brennan (head of drama, Tiger Aspect).  I decided that would be an outstanding diversion, even if my friend Sally accurately described it as an opportunity for writers to be ruthlessly humiliated in front of other writers. Which series to pitch though?

    I settled for what is currently/temporarily called VIOLENT CASES, a title which absolutely no-one else likes and is actually ripped off a Neil Gaiman comic (shame) until I can find another name I like. After about 48 hours of emailed work-shopping through some writer friends, and a final polish with Hols in a cocktail bar (we were working, see?), I came up with this (and I’m not very worried about the idea being pinched because 1) I don’t know that anyone reads this blog and 2) there’s an awful lot more to it than this):


    A female detective with a history of violence prevents a spate of London murders from ever happening by jumping back in time to re-live the crimes – as the victim.

    Eight episodes. Eight dead women. Eight chances for Vanderburgh to face murderers in a quest to understand her own past. VIOLENT CASES throws a chronological twist on the crime genre, but even if you can escape to the past, can you also escape destiny?


    I haven’t received any acknowledgement of the entry though so can’t help wondering whether entering it at 23:59 on the due date (post-cocktails, obviously) wasn’t cutting it a little too fine…thanks to all who helped cut it down and refine it anyway – it will have its time. Next time I need a diversion from the current project at hand.