2 Unrealised Projects among many:
1. Project: Hard Text/Hard Copy - alternative titles for a broad spectrum magazine of good writing and ideas, covering any topic that anybody had a good idea about and was able (and willing) to write well on.
This was an idea that Darren Flook and I came up with in a pub on the King's Road a few years ago, in the wake of Brian Eno's speech at the Turner Prize award ceremony a night or two previously in which he - Brian Eno, not Darren - had said something memorable about the role of the artist. Not so memorable of course that I can actually remember it, or who won the prize that year, or therefore which year it actually was, but anyway, broadly speaking, I think, it went roughly along the lines of the role of the artist being too important to be restricted solely to the field of art. Or something like that. Whatever it was, we both agreed and decided that what the world needed (because the world always needs new magazines) was a magazine founded on the same principle. Its content would have inevitably been weighted towards the arts but the remit would be to encourage writing that went beyond the usual pigeonholing of arts writing in which people have a field or a medium that is their area and they write exclusively about that. So while we would aim to have the best, the sharpest and the funniest critics writing in all the regular fields (film, art, literature, music etc) we would encourage both regular and irregular contributors to write not only about their own area but also about anything else in which they had a particular interest or passion, not only within the arts but in politics, philosophy, sport, something they overheard on the bus - anything at all. We would want challenging, provocative writing and ideas, but not just for the sake of it - the important thing would be to bring fresh perspectives to familiar subjects and bring unfamiliar subjects to a new readership. For instance you might have Matthew Collings writing about art. Or about, film or literature, or the European Union. Or, say, Richard Dawkins writing about Evolutionary Biology, or public Transport, or Buffy the vampire Slayer. Or, to take it back to it's starting point, you might have Brian Eno writing about the role of the artist. Anyway, it seemed like a really good idea at the time, in a pub, on the King's Rd, and when we realised that sat at the table next to us was Sir Richard Rogers - just the kind of person we would be approaching to submit a piece for us - it felt like fate that this was meant to happen. So what happened? We were in a pub. We got pissed. Nothing happened.
2. Project: Drink Yourself happy. A self help manual.
A few years ago I was really quite badly depressed. I was halfway through writing a novel and I was both blocked and in a self critical crisis (as in this is all shit, rip it up, start again - or preferably don't), I hated my job, I was vastly in debt and had the Inland Revenue on my back, I hadn't had sex in months. I remember sitting on a bus on the way to my friend Darren's house and my eyes filling with tears at the utter hopelessness of it all. It was Darren's birthday, and our friends Lindsay and Edgar were also bringing their newborn baby out in public for the first time, so everyone was there. I nearly didn't get off the bus, but I did, and I forced myself to look and sound happy for the sake of my friends. We drank, not that heavily, as I recall - but that recollection may well be faulty, later events strongly suggest so - but well, I'd brought with me a bottle of Zubrowka and a bottle of Chateau Musar as gifts. I found that gradually it became less of an effort to look happy, but still an effort, nevertheless. Darren's party was an afternoon, early evening affair. Around 9 o'clock we all said goodbye to Lindsay, Edgar and the baby Clara, and headed off to catch a bus down to Hoxton for an opening and party at Vilma Gold's. We stopped off at an off license to get some fags and someone - Dallas, I think - insisted we needed booze for the bus. I bought just a miniature of Jack Daniel's. I remember sitting on the bus and unscrewing the lid from the tiny bottle, and that is literally the last thing I remember until I woke up, many hours later, in the back of a cab outside my flat in Brixton. There are stories of what had happened - of what I had done - in the missing hours, but I don't want to go into any of that here. The point is, the next morning I woke up and not only did I not have a hangover but the depression had gone. Like a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. Like someone had switched on the light. Gone. Now you might say that was because I was still off my face from the night before, but the fact is I never did get a hangover from that night and the depression stayed away (for several months at least). Thus Drink Yourself Happy - basic thesis, targetted drinking to forget. Over several weeks I developed this thesis until I could expound my theories and defend them for quite as long as you'd have to while promoting the book on, say, daytime TV (although not, I admit, perhaps for quite as long as it would take to actually write it). There was even going to be a follow up: Retox: How to master your addictions by controlled indulgence. Neither of these came to be for the most painfully obvious reasons, although there was one positive outcome of the field research: with the depression lifted, I overcame the block and 5 months later I finished my novel, so that was one project that wasn't unrealised (although getting it published may be another story...). Mind you, once I finished the novel was when the depression came back. Ho hum, swings and roundabouts and all that.