“Boomaloomabangbang”: a guide to scoring your screenplay

It is everywhere. This sound. It’s at the meeting of your eyelids as you drift sleep-wards after a deathly day of toil. It’s buried in the fumes and dull frequencies of the A40. It’s there when you yawn. It’s in the creak of the floorboard as you step up to the kitchen and in that secret sigh of pleasure you make when you kiss; the one that even you don’t know about. It’s there in the rush of wind that laps across your face as you stand on Saddle Tor and inhale the landscape. It’s in water. And in the crunch of frost-hardened grass. It’s in an iamb by Shakespeare and a trochee by Eliot. It’s in that dream you always have. It’s in the wine, the bread, the stars and fields; the good and the bad, the promise, the light. It’s elemental. This sound. Incessant and clawing. Clogging. This sound.

This damned sound.

(insert fart gag here)

This is sound of the wait.

Guess what? Jimmy and I are waiting for something. And yes it would have been far easier to begin this latest bloc-note of electronic nonsense with this simple statement but I once again I insisted on flicking the “flowery prose-poem” switch on the Blogpanel (TM) and well, you’ll have read what happened. It could have been worse, the Blogpanel (TM) also has a “dance dangerously naked” button (only to be used for job interviews or when making presidential addresses) and one labeled “coffee” which, as you’d suspect, produces coffee (but only when I’ve filled the drawer with some more of those damned-expensive capsules which to be honest isn’t going to be any time soon).

And in an artistically arsey way, I can’t really say what we’re waiting for, except to let you know it is has been quite a long time now and, please, please, please, oh please for the love of everything holy it WILL be worth the wait.

Which leaves me again with nothing “High Tide” related to write about. So I suppose I should probably stop this entry now and start work on a new script. Or maybe watch a film. Or make a soup. Or anything really. But I’m afraid that’s not going to happen and I am going to (word) press on with some assorted musings (although of course you are free to stop reading at any time – although if you do, please remember that I know who you are and come the revolution, well, let’s just say we’re going to need someone to do the bins . . .).

More specifically I am going to write about my friend Bob. At least to begin with. Now then, I’ve known Bob for many years. Even back to the early days of university from which I still remember his campaign slogan for election to the JCR chairmanship – Bob for Chair? Yes please! (or something, it was a fair few years back now). Anyway, I would then go on to see Bob at least twice a week when he would come to our house in Shepherd’s Bush and rehearse with (another dear, dear friend) Mark as part of their band E-bru. Bob and Mark would make very loud and very wonderful electronic music whilst I tried to sleep in the room next door. I got very good at sleeping through VERY LOUD ELECTRONICA which has been very useful since my marriage to one of the Frenchmen from Daft Punk.

It’s always worth a link to some of their stunning music.  This track is particularly redolent for me; that chorus still echoes somewhere around the vaults and arches of my brain – “all my liiiife, I feel like I’m a failure . . . all my liiiiife . . .” 

Bob would later go on to be one half of the truly brilliant Etherington Brothers who have produced a whole shelf-full of wonderful comics – you can see some their stuff for sale on Amazon here. Here is a picture of me and another great pal Kris Dyer enjoying the free booze at the launch of one of Bob’s books. Bob is the cool one on the right.

Kris and Jim and Bob

I like this photo. It reminds me of old times and the fact that in the caption Bobby calls me talented IS INCIDENTAL AT MOST. And I really like that jumper. That may have been one of its last great nights. It now lies tired and bobbled (no pun intended) in my wardrobe – maybe it’s time to put it out of its misery . . .

And the point of all this is what? Well it is a tenuous link at best but in the early days of The Etherington comics, they’d put a list of songs that they’d listened to when writing in the back of every issue. “Written under the influence of  . . . ” I thought this was great. Some writers require silence to work, others prosper with a jukebox packed with excellent tunes to get the fingers typing. I am somewhere in between the two. But one thing I have noticed is how radically the tone of a piece can alter depending on what is coming through the speakers. This can be inspirational or it can be stunting or it can lead to the performance of entire Beastie Boys albums in your sitting room with headphones clamped to your ears and an imaginary microphone in your hand except for during “Sabotage” when, clearly, you swap it for an imaginary guitar. This has happened. More times than I care to admit.

Let me give you a little sample of how influential music can be when hammering out a screenplay. I am going to write a scene and then play various clips (provided for your interactive pleasure) and you can see what happens to the writing. It is definitely going to be WORTH IT. Alright? Okay then; let’s begin.

TITLE:  BOOMALOOMABANGBANG
(a tragedy)

It is a sunny day in Simon’s west London flat. The windows are open and SIMON enters in his boxer shorts with a cup of tea. His girlfriend, CLEOPATRA, is sitting on the sofa completing a massive sudoko the size of a pillowcase.

SIMON
Morning my love.

CLEOPATRA
Morning darling.

SIMON
Thanks for the great sex last night.

CLEOPATRA
My pleasure. Glad you enjoyed it.

SIMON
It was ace-a-rama. What you doing?

CLEOPATRA
I’m doing a massive sudoko.

PLAY CUE: RADIOHEAD – HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY

SIMON
It’s too bright. Why the sun? Why now? Every tick-tock moment of this morning is too much. Already too much.

Simon sinks to his knees and in slow-motion his cup of tea crashes onto the floor. Cleopatra looks up from her sudoko and runs her hand through her hair. She sighs, stands up and wraps the pillowcase puzzle around Simon’s shoulders.

CLEOPATRA
Let it go Simon. Get rid. Shed your skin. Live again. Dare. Dare yourself to live bigger, better than before.

SIMON
It’s fucked. Everything’s fucked. I’m buzzing. Like a fridge.

CLEOPATRA
Like a detuned radio.

SIMON
That’s fucked too.

PLAY CUE: ALEXANDER BORODIN – IN THE STEPPES OF CENTRAL ASIA

Simon wipes the tears from his eyes and climbs to his feet. He takes Cleopatra by the hand and they move towards the window. They stare. A wind gets up and their hair is tousled in a slightly sexy way.

SIMON
Hark.

CLEOPATRA
I’m harking.

SIMON
Hark and you will ken that change is on the wind. Like a great eagle. Or a plane or something.

CLEOPATRA
Who is Ken?

SIMON
Change. Change and hope. Hope. Hope and change. And damn it Cleopatra, we shall be in the vanguard. We shall chase the dawn of this new change and raise the flag of hope.

He turns to her.

SIMON
Promise me. Promise me something from the bottom of your soul. From the soul of your bottom . Promise me that this change and this hope that I am pretty damn certain is heading right for us will be given a place in your heart. A place. In your. Heart. Next to the place I already claim there as my own.

CLEOPATRA
Oh yes Simon. A thousand times yes! A place in my heart and in my womb and in that special drawer where we keep the tin opener and the rubber bands.

SIMON
Kiss me! Kiss me now!

PLAY CUE – STARSHIP – “NOTHING’S GONNA STOP US NOW”

They kiss in super-slow motion. Jump cut to an empty beach. SIMON AND CLEOPATRA run along the sand. Then put up deck-chairs. Then SIMON smashes a coconut on the head of passing poor person and he pours its milk all over CLEOPATRA’S body and she laughs as if this is the funniest thing that has ever happened in the history of humanity. They kiss some more. Then pray. Then run again.

PLAY CUE: DON’T IT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD BY STEFAN DENNIS WHO PLAYED PAUL ROBINSON IN NEIGHBOURS BLOODY YEARS AGO NOW

SIMON and CLEOPATRA draw knives and repeatedly stab each other to death. Their blood pours onto the sand and stains it crimson.

THE END

Wow. I don’t know about you but I feel purged. It really is a tragedy for our time. And one that could not have happened without the shaping power of music. So now you know the secret, now you have the power, please use it wisely. And don’t underestimate the intoxicating effect of Paul Robinson from Neighbours. Many have erred in this fashion AND NONE OF THEM ARE STILL ALIVE.

Be warned.

And Bobby – I salute you sir. It has been too long.

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