Monday 25 September 2023

Write Drunk, Edit Sober

 Write drunk, edit sober - Hemingway said or didn't really but the much repeated quote has long been attributed to the writer and it's a good story. It sums up the public image of ole Papa even if it is actually the opposite of the truth. Hemingway was indeed a man who liked, nay loved a drink but he wrote in the morning, and didn't start drinking until the afternoon . 

Still, when legend becomes fact print the legend.

Image, pop culture and exaggeration have done the business, built the myth and it's easy to visualise a slavering, red eyed, finger-stumbling, Scotch-scarred Hemingway at the keyboard.

Still, as I sit at my screen, three O'clock in the morning and raise a glass of Johnny Walker Black and mouth that salacious quote - 'Write Drunk, Edit Sober' - It is Hemingway I think of.

Cheers mate!

Tuesday 5 September 2023


 Last night, lounging in front of the TV, aimlessly pushing buttons on the remote control I stumbled upon an episode of Murder She Wrote - this is not my usual type of show, though I have seen some episodes. Is there anyone who hasn't?  - but I watched it anyway. Drinking a smooth Penderyn malt, I just let the show run it's course. It's cozy style may be out of fashion - these days crime drama tend to be gritty, moody and introspective but there's a lot to be said for old school crime/mystery shows where the murder victims never bleed from gun or knife wounds, and fall to the ground without leaving an untidy mess.

12 seasons, 268 episodes and scores of murders - Cobot Cove, the fictional setting for the show, has a murder rate of 1,490 to the million which basically means that you are safer in a war zone than in the leafy New England town. The show was actually filmed in Mendocino, California and still today hordes of fans visit the area to walk the streets where Jessica Fletcher solved baffling crime after baffling crime. The show ended in 1996 but it remains a favorite of TV schedulers across the globe.

It may come as a shock to many to learn that the brilliant  Angela Lansbury was not the first choice to play Jessica Fletcher - originally the show runners approached Jean Stapleton, best known as Archie Bunker's long suffering wife, for the role. In fact the role had been created for the actress but she turned the producers down as she was going through a lot in her personal life having recently lost her husband. Looking for a replacement Angela Lansbury entered the scene - she had recently played Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in the movie, The Mirror Crack'd and this made her a natural choice since the role of Jessica Fletcher is basically a transatlantic Jane Marple in any case.

'When I read the first script, I was immediately taken by Jessica Fletcher,' Lansbury told People Magazine back in 1984. ' I felt the script could have been written for me.'

As twee as the show is it must be remembered that when it first aired in 1984 it was a bit left field - at that time most TV cop shows were filled with car chases, colourful shirts and gun fights but this show featured a star in her 60's who favoured intellect over brawn. Yeah, it's the TV version of easy listening, like a celluloid version of  James Last and his orchestra performing Iron Maiden but it's all good fun and there are some curious episodes out there - like the Magnum PI/Murder she Wrote crossover in which Jessica is on vacation in Hawaii and trying to prove Magnum (Tom Selleck) was framed for two murders he's a been accused of. Now, that's a fun evening for anyone who loves old 80's trashy television.

The show had always been a big hit for CBS but when its 12th season was moved from its traditional Sunday evening slot and broadcast on Thursdays, putting it in competition with NBC's Friends, the ratings took a nose dive and it was decided to pull the plug before a 13th season.

Four TV movies followed and the show has never really gone away  -  there are the re-runs but there are also a series of books, credited to J B Fletcher but written by a series of ghost writers, that are still going strong today.

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