Spank Gold Volumes 7a/8a/9a: The Furlough Trilogy (digital edition)

Two ashtrays, two cinemas, and some dick in a hatOnce more for the people who weren't listening (or more accurately chose not to).

Between 2009 and 2010, I wrote six books: collections of Edinburgh reviews, London Film Festival reviews and travel pieces, all taken from this website and covering the period 1989-2009. I liked the idea of having a physical copy of all this stuff I'd written, sitting on my bookshelf, and possibly other people's bookshelves too (yeah, right). But even back in 2010 e-readers were growing in popularity, so I grudgingly created a series of digital editions of the six books, using the laziest method possible (i.e. taking the PDFs used to make the print versions and selling them as is).

Jump forward to 2020, and that six week period during April and May when I was on furlough from work. By then I'd racked up another decade's worth of content on the site, and it seemed reasonable to use this free time to assemble a few more books. They've all been on sale for a while now - another Edinburgh collection, and two more sets of LFF reviews. And if you haven't bought them yet because you don't do paper, then I'm afraid that I have some bad news for you.

Yes, it's time to fire up your electronic devices and pay a fiver apiece (bargain!) for the digital editions of the three books in the Furlough Trilogy. (Or pay more to have them on lovely lumpy paper.) Full details below.

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Spank Gold Volume 9: Spank's LFF Diaries 2015-2019

Photo by The Belated Birthday Girl, who would like to point out that this is a more fitting cover than the one she shot for Volume 4: the Kiln cinema has actually held LFF screenings (back in 1998 when it was the Tricycle), whereas the Lexi hasn't.After close on two decades of dealing with my shit, The Belated Birthday Girl has become an expert at spotting those occasions where I casually skip over the details in a story for either narrative brevity or comic effect. For example, in my recent writeup of our virtual Edinburgh, I compared Christopher Nolan's film Tenet to a Tuesday afternoon in Lincoln town centre. The BBG acknowledges the structure of the gag in that case, but feels that because I stripped down the statement to its barest essentials, it's somewhat disrespectful to the town of Lincoln.

Another recent example is the story I've been telling people about how my pandemic's been going: “earlier this year the government paid me not to work for six weeks, and during that time I wrote three books.“ This is normally the point where she chips in with "well, you didn't actually write them in six weeks. You pulled text off the website that you'd already written, rearranged it to fit book pages and printed it off, and that took six weeks."

It's a fair point, but you know what they say: when the legend becomes fact, print the legend. I like the fact that my time on furlough had a narrative structure: I started on day one with three empty word processor files, and by day forty I had three actual printed books in my hand. Not finished, mind you, as they still needed to be checked for typos and other nonsense, and the covers were just temporary affairs. But I could go into work the following Monday and show them to people (or at least wave them in front of the camera during a video conference call).

So: I wrote three books last April and May. (Sorry, love.) The finished version of the first one came out in August, followed by the second one in September. Now here's the third one.

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Spank Gold Volume 8: Spank's LFF Diaries 2010-2014

Cover photography by The Belated Birthday Girl, who's previously written about this lovely cinema here: https://mostlyfilm.com/2011/08/23/cinema-week-my-favourite-cinema/Unofficially, I guess I'm calling it The Furlough Trilogy.

Back in April, work gave me three days notice that I was about to be put on furlough - probably for six weeks, maybe more, maybe less, they weren't sure at the time. I considered the possibilities of what I could do with this newly-acquired free time, and felt pretty sure that I could get the long-overdue Edinburgh Diaries Volume Three assembled and ready, and possibly even make a start on the even-longer-overdue LFF Diaries Volume Four and the not-quite-as-long-overdue LFF Diaries Volume Five, depending on how long the furlough actually lasted.

It ended up being the advertised six weeks, and I managed to get all three books into a nearly-finished state. You already know about the first: now here's the second.

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Spank Gold Volume 7: Spank's Edinburgh Diaries 2010-2019

I think that holding this vote in the geographical centre of Edinburgh may have skewed the results a tad.October 11th, 2010. It was close on ten years ago that I wrote the following sentence: "This'll be the last one of these for a little while, I think." In the year or so leading up to that, I'd managed to publish six books via the print-on-demand outfit lulu.com: one collection of travel pieces scraped from the website, two volumes of Edinburgh Festival reviews, and three similar volumes of London Film Festival reviews. I had a couple of vague plans in mind for future books, but I predicted that it'd be a while before I had enough material in hand to create those, so I quickly knocked off some basic ebook editions of the original six in time for Christmas 2010 and left the publishing world for a spell.

In that ten year gap, The Belated Birthday Girl has published nine books: admittedly, to a degree, they're all variations on the same book, but still. Basically, I need to publish three more volumes before her 2021 diary comes out, in order to have any hope of keeping up with her.

I started the process in April. Just finishing it off now.

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Living For The Weekend: A 2020 Diary By The BBG

More food mama / Give us more food mama / Give us prawn ring mama / Give us anything mama / Thank God my mum has gone to Iceland [not pictured: mum]Your next diary is going to be rubbish, and it's all going to be the Government's fault. (Not that Government, the one before.)

Back in June 2019, they announced that they were going to move the date of the 2020 May Day Bank Holiday. Under the usual rules, it would have fallen on Star Wars Day, Monday May 4th. But for 2020 it's being moved to Friday May 8th, to fall in line with the 75th anniversary of VE Day. 

A change like that is always going to annoy some people, but it was surprising where the main objection to it came from: diary and calendar manufacturers. Because by the time the announcement of the date change was made, many of them had already completed their print run. Some of them had to expensively pulp all their stock and reprint: others have had to go for the messy option of an apologetic sticker on the cover with a correction: a few are just ignoring the situation and hoping not too many people lose their jobs from not going in to work on May 4th.

In those circumstances, a diary that's traditionally put together in a kick bollocks scramble towards the end of December doesn't seem like a silly idea any more, does it?

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Living For The Weekend: A 2019 Diary By The BBG

Yes, congratulations for spotting that 'Takeshita Street' is an anagram of the rude phrase 'Reheat Steak Tits'.I published my first book back in 2009. You might remember it. Monkey Round The World: Travel Writing 1993-2009 was intended to be the first of a series of books using the facilities of lulu.com to rehash my favourite bits of this website in hard copy form. Since then - more accurately, in the twelve months following then - I brought out three volumes of LFF reviews and two collections of Edinburgh Festival reviews, meaning that I currently have six books in print. That's quite an achievement, isn't it?

Except that now she's published Living For The Weekend: 2019 Diary, The Belated Birthday Girl now has two more books in print than I do. I may have to do something about that over the next couple of years. But for now, let's put that to one side and get on with the annual post announcing that you can buy her new diary for £3.99 plus postage and packing from the usual source.

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Living For The Weekend: A 2018 Diary By The BBG

Echoes start as a cross in you / Trembling noises that come too soon / Spatial movement which seems to you / Resonating your mask or feud / Hollow talking and hollow girl / Force it up from the root of pain / Never said it was good, never said it was near / Shadow rises and you are here / And then you cut / You cut it out / And everything / Goes back to the beginningDiaries! They're rubbish, aren't they? Too much space for you to write in all the boring work stuff you've got to do during the weekdays: too little space for you to write in all the fun stuff you want to do during the weekends. A good diary would display an entire week across two pages, but dedicate one of those pages just to Saturday and Sunday.

But you know all this, of course. Because you were told about it in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. And guess what? 2018 isn't going to be any different. So for the seventh year running, The Belated Birthday Girl presents her Living For The Weekend diary, available for £3.99 (plus p&p) from the good people at lulu.com.

(Okay, you could argue that December 31st 2017 is a bad date to be releasing a 2018 diary. Still, at least it's better than last year.)

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Living For The Weekend: A 2017 Diary By The BBG

If it's possible to have a favourite escalator, then I think this one is mine.Om Puri, the great Indian actor, died on January 6th 2017. You may know him best from his starring role in East Is East: while in these pages, I've reviewed his 1997 performance in My Son The Fanatic. But aside from UK productions like those, he was also a solid and comforting presence in Indian and international films for forty years.

Here's a wee experiment for you to try. Go to your 2017 diary and turn to January 6th. Is Om Puri's death noted in there? Of course it isn't. You might just assume that all diary publishers are racists, but in fact what you're seeing is the revelation of a dirty little secret that these publishers have been keeping to themselves for decades - even though the diary says 2017 on the front, it was actually written and published in 2016.

What if there was a diary that didn't play to those rules? A 2017 diary which didn't even go on sale until January 16th 2017, largely down to Microsoft Word generating ghost pages which couldn't be edited or deleted but still kept printing out regardless? A diary which could, therefore, include events from the first two weeks of the year in its listings?

Well, that was my idea for justifying the publication delay of Living For The Weekend: 2017 Diary. But when I suggested it to The Belated Birthday Girl, she looked at me like I was some sort of mental and refused. So that's why Om Puri's death isn't listed in there. Fair enough: it's her name on the cover, after all.

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Living For The Weekend: A 2016 Diary By The BBG

You'll have to buy the diary to find out where this picture was taken. (Or try to decipher it from the low-resolution preview on the Lulu website. But obviously we'd prefer the former.)One of these years, The Belated Birthday Girl and I will get our respective acts together to such a degree that we can publish her Living For The Weekend diary in good time for people to be able to order it and receive it before Christmas Day.

As you've probably realised by now, 2015 is not going to be that year.

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