Pink Elephants

It’s been a while since I’ve written but have been doing a lot of thinking. Did a seminar on Beginnings last week at Brookes which really made me think about my work. Roving Mic is a working title, not the final title. I hesitated setting up this blog until I had the right title but I could have been procrastinating for a year so even the title is a work-in-progress. Then I thought about first lines and how powerful they can be, especially when working so closely with narrative as I am on this project. So it was a real case of teaching feeding into my own practice. Still haven’t got a first line for the Knight’s Tale remix (which is also, of course, the first story in the book) but have some ideas. ‘Two men, one woman. You have a problem.’ Want to bring in the love rivalry theme more forcefully and am also toying with the idea of ten-syllable rhyming couplets. Have veered from iambic tetrameter to blank verse but as the tale is relatively long (though I won’t cover all of Chaucer’s ground) I need longer lines so it doesn’t end up being ten pages long. I want to keep the reader interested. Challenged but not too challenged so early on.

Have been agonising over setting. Got this crazy idea that I should focus on the Elephant and Castle shopping Centre cos it’s at the beginning of the (New) Old Kent Road and is famous. Or should I say infamous? Have not so fond memories of going there as a child when we lived near East Street market. It was rough even in the seventies. And then it was most definitely pink rather than the pinky-red it is now. (Painting the town red?) So last Friday I travelled from Oxford to the Elephant via Paddington. I got off with my bag on wheels, by which time I was exhausted due to trapped nerve still being in evidence after a month (it’s been a terrible month health-wise – not the most inspiring). Anyway, having elbowed my way through the stalls outside I walked into the most depressing shopping centre in Europe. I knew it would be bad but was unprepared for the full impact of the recession hitting me in the face. Apparently it’s been up for demolition for quite some time so has clearly not been invested in for at least a decade. I didn’t even see the Tesco people mention. I didn’t notice a single chain. There were pound shops and shops with no names. Upstairs there was a large shop with everything in boxes rather than on shelves as if they couldn’t be bothered to display them. It made Gravesend’s shopping centres (and every other one I’ve visited in my entire life) look upmarket. The only redeeming factor was on the very top floor there’s a bingo hall and bowling alley. By this stage, I was too depressed and exhausted to haul myself up the escalators and keep exploring. I now regret this slightly, but would be nice to go without suitcase on wheels looking like bag lady from Elephant via Oxford. But I did think about setting the Knight’s Tale in the Bingo Palace or whatever it’s called. I now need to find out a bit more about bingo halls and possibly create a bingo hall in an alternative universe. Or scrap the idea completely. But I like the idea of it being this ‘palace’ and the workers there being trapped in the 9-to-5, Francesca’s ‘ball and chain’ though of course they wouldn’t be working conventional hours at all.

The language of bingo is fun and the campness of it. So it MIGHT work. So now I’m going to do a virtual tour of Palace Bingo at the elephant and one day I must visit one to complete the research. Anyone want to come…?


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