The worst line I have EVER written (plus a few more candidates)

Hello world. I can’t be long. I have dinner in the oven and an evening of scriptwriting ahead of me so I really mustn’t linger over this somewhat unplanned addition to the annals (double “n”) of blog. However, I thought you may be interested to know, or even if you’re not you may at least like to pretend that you are for the duration of this sentence, that this week I wrote the worst line of dialogue ever. Yes, that’s EVER. In the twenty or so years I have been writing scripts and articles and poems, I have never arranged lexis from the English language in a more absurd, grating and fundamentally horrible construction (although that last sentence runs it pretty close).

I would point out that this defamation of my abilities as a scriptwriter is not a symptom of an ongoing existential crisis, of doubt and self-loathing plaguing the blackening vaults and caverns of my soul. Not a bit of it. I actually think I’m okay. No, this assertion comes from my lifetime friend and co-owner of Long Arm Films, Mr Jimmy M Hay.

So what’s got old big balls (as I NEVER call him) so flustered then? I suppose I’d better show you. I wouldn’t normally publish lines from an unfinished script on, of all things, the internet but given the ferocity of Jimmy’s ire then I am going to make an exception. I am not going to give you any context, suffice to say that I am working on a short film script that we will be shooting in February next year. Ready then? Here goes:

Screenshot 2013-10-13 17.48.08

So there you are. I had a long chat with Jimmy on Friday. Here are some of the highlights:

“No one speaks like that. No one!”

“No one wants to hear anyone speaking like that. I’m all for upsetting our audience but people will HATE YOU for writing a line like that”.

“It’s the WORST type of intellectual nonsense. Anyone with a brain will HATE you for sounding so pompous and anyone without one will have NO IDEA what you are going on about”.

“It sounds like you’ve been watching the West Wing and then had a MASSIVE BRAIN INJURY before then sitting down to write a script’.

“What does it even mean? WHAT DOES IT EVEN MEAN?”.

I am not an expert on conversation analysis but I am pretty sure Jimmy has his reservations ……….

I am of course reappropriating history for an easy laugh or two in a hastily dashed-off blog post (and you would not expect me to do anything else I am sure); Jimmy actually liked the idea behind the script and indeed liked quite a number of the lines I’d written. (Although he was similarly grumpy when I used the word “omertà” instead of “silence” – he said lots of bad words when describing his thoughts on this example). This is Long Arm Films in action. This is collaboration. There are very few people at whom I would smile and nod when they called me a “pretentious wanker” but Jimmy is one of them. That’s why the partnership works. That’s why when you see High Tide or indeed this short film we are currently scripting you won’t hear ANY lines like the one above.

However, before I tend to the potatoes and in celebration of the apocryphal quotation ascribed to Harrison Ford when talking to George Lucus about the Star Wars screenplay – you can type this shit George, but you sure as hell can’t say it” – I now give you a list of EIGHT lines that will never find their way into a Long Arm script as long as Jimmy still lives, and all the best guesses suggest that he’ll outlive me by a number of decades.

ONE: Supposedly Polly, this is the incarnation of your inherent fears of dominance manifested in a series of irregular and erotic ways.

TWO: Man the lifeboats! Simon is incandescent with bulbous rage and what’s more the wind is getting up more than a little.

THREE: Gah! Damn this sense of foreboding. I can feel it in both my fingers AND my toes.

FOUR: Love’s fickle finger wheedles its way inside me for a second time this fortnight and a third time in this somewhat ill-catalogued section of non-fiction.

FIVE: What would Chaucer do?

SIX: You went to Crystal Palace. You went to Arsenal. You did it the hard way. And the hard way is the only way in my mind. There are other ways of course but the only way remains the hard way.

SEVEN: Byddai’n hapus iawn I gwaithio gyda pawb eto.

EIGHT: That this is the grammar of the broken. (Yet another line from the aforementioned script, rightly castigated by Jimmy).

In other news, my Portlandia obsession grows more profound. And this is why:

I hope all is well in your world. Oh balls, look at the time. Must get on with the spuds. As Martin Scorcese ALWAYS says. He does. It actually gets a little tedious. Always the spuds Marty, always the spuds . . . . sigh.

Faretheewell.

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