Thursday, 24 February 2011

BOOK NEWS: Frank's Wild Years - A Caffeine Nights Publication

Deptford Station, circa 1968

'I'm a dog,' he said. 'A mangy old mutt. I do what mutts do. I do what they tell me, then come back with my tongue hanging out for more. I'm a fucking mutt.'

It's been a long time coming, but Frank's Wild Years has a home with crime/noir publisher Caffeine Nights. I'm looking forward to getting 'Frank' out in the world and making some noise this autumn, but in the mean time, here's an extract from the Caffeine Nights newsletter, published yesterday. I'll keep you posted.


"Caffeine Nights is delighted to announce the signing of Nick Triplow for the publication of his fabulous edgy thriller, 'Frank’s Wild Years'. The book, set in London and Humberside, gives a nod to the Ted Lewis novel 'Jack’s Return Home' which was subsequently re-titled when made into one of the best modern crime films of our generation, starring Michael Caine in the eponymous 'Get Carter'.

Nick’s book takes us back to the faded glamour of past decades and the gritty present. 'Frank’s Wild Years' will be published in the autumn and is a must for all crime fiction lovers."

Thursday, 17 February 2011


Creative Writing and the art of 'Show, don't tell'

Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday, know what I mean, son.

In the middle of what can only be described as a chaotic script workshop a couple of weeks ago - by turns wildly enthusiastic and blankly confused, we came up against what seems to be the single greatest revelation for an audience new to script-writing: it’s not all about the dialogue.
I’d stood back as impossible ideas flew round the room. No, we weren’t re-making The Matrix, as for re-creating Mock The Week, feasible, but hacking out tired and bitchy clich├ęs to order probably wasn’t going to be that rewarding either. Or achieve the end result the group wanted. This lot were buzzing with the possibility that their experiences could be communicated to a wider audience. But it couldn't be all about the words.
Struggling to think of a rock-solid example to make the point for the next session, I settled on one of the greatest wordless denouements in film history. If there’s a finer example of the principle of ‘show, don’t tell’ than the final scene of the 1980 gangster flick The Long Good Friday, I can’t think of it; a moment of acting genius from Bob Hoskins in his first leading role as Thatcherite entrepreneur and old-school villain, Harold Shand. By this point in the story we’ve had guns, explosions, bent coppers and car chases; we’ve had smart lines and Charlie from Casualty getting it in the neck, but how to end?
Night. Rain. Outside the Savoy. Shand’s chauffeur-driven car is waiting. He waves it over, gets in the back and the car pulls away, sharply, jerking him back in his seat. He complains: 'Hold up, where's Victoria?' Then, he is silent. A gunman in the front passenger emerges and aims a silenced automatic at him.  We see Shand’s expression turn from uncertainty to understanding. We see defiance turn to acceptance and finally settle on the crushing realisation of the fate that awaits him. All from the back seat of a Daimler and without another word spoken.
So, if Sir Hoskins ever gets the nod for a BAFTA fellowship, instead of stringing a series of clunky tribute clips together, skip it. I reckon this gets it said.

A few years ago, there was talk of a US remake of The Long Good Friday. The rights to the film had been bought by ‘There Will Be Blood’ director Paul Thomas Anderson. Oh, and did I mention it was to be set in Miami. At that point, visions of Sly Stallone and Don Johnson came to mind and I blacked out. Nothing heard since.  

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

You’d better stop dreaming of the quiet Life

On the 9th February 1982, The Jam’s Town Called Malice entered the UK charts at No.1.
Some songs claim their place in your own personal folklore the moment you hear them. Town Called Malice is one of those, a permanent fixture on my imaginary desert island, one of a stash of tunes that provide an instant shortcut to a precious moment in time and place.
For Weller, the song was a personal evocation of growing up in Woking. But its sentiments rang as true for a bunch of teenage mods in Orpington as it doubtless did for countless kids just like us in towns just like ours. It’s not hard to see why. Town Called Malice kicks in like a full-on Motown manifesto, a lift from the Supremes’ You Can’t Hurry Love for a bass groove and then a call to ‘stop dreaming of a quiet life’, ‘quit running for that runaway bus’ and ‘stop apologising for things you’ve never done’.
Town Called Malice had that sepia-tint from the word go, the single sleeve’s backyard terraces found a space in pop music history when you could take lyrical images about disused milk floats, longing, love letters and the choice whether to ‘cut down on beer or the kid’s new gear’ to the top of the charts.    
So, I blow the dust off the record deck, hoping the needle doesn’t dig its own groove and I’m thinking of a cold, bright February afternoon round the back of an old cinema, long since demolished. I’m thinking of parkas, trench-coats and graffiti on a wall. I’m thinking of a bunch of people, names and faces. I’m thinking of the ‘big decisions’ and 'lost laughter in the breeze' and I reckon if Town Called Malice made sense to me at 17, tonight it makes even more.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Roy Budd & the Get Carter Theme

On the trail of great Brit-movie tunes, here's Roy Budd playing the iconic Carter theme - to give it its proper title Main Theme (Carter Takes A Train) - live along to the opening credits of Mike Hodges' 1971 Get Carter. Much covered - Human League, Stereolab to name but two, the theme slips into the movie at key moments; those haunting, ringing harpsichord notes do much to set the tone for what follows. And how many times has that bassline found its way into subsequent slices of ersatz funk?

'Say goodbye Eric...'