Archive for the ‘Ivan’s thoughts’ Category
I realise that, what with the rise of the internet and all the criminals and murderers roaming the streets these days, some of you may never have bought a book before, let alone left the house. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d give you a step-by-step guide on how to buy my book. And please, don’t thank me.
1. Leave the house. This is done by finding a door and running at it, repeatedly, until you can see cars.
2. Walk into town and go into the first shop you can find. It doesn’t matter which type of shop at this point. Once you’re an expert at buying things you’ll be able to choose between shops just by looking in the windows, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Open the door the same way you used yours.
3. Approach the man/woman/manwoman behind the counter. “Excuse me, but I’m looking for the latest blockbuster in the Casper Candlewacks series,” you will say.
4. “But this is a fishmonger,” the fishmonger might reply, assuming that you’re actually in a fishmonger. If you’re not in a fishmonger, DON’T PANIC! Just take six fresh mackerel from your bag and lay them on some shelves. Now continue as usual.
5. “Who cares about fish and the mongering of aforementioned marine dwellers when I could be reading THE BEST BOOK THAT’S EVER BEEN WROTE?” You’ll probably cry. (I should pick you up on your grammar there. It’s actually ‘written’. Get it right next time.)
6. “Oh,” the fishmonger will say. “Then I’ll give up this stinking profession and take up reading full-time. I’ll accompany you to the next shop to acquire one of these books you speak so loudly of.”
7. Then you and the fishmonger will walk to the next shop along, which is probably a hairdresser. The hairdresser will down scalps and come with you, as will the baker, the phone shop employee and the armpit salesman. This will go on for a while, but before long you and your mob will come across a bookshop.
8. “Aha!” you’ll all cry. Then you’ll walk inside the bookshop, pick up their finest copies of ‘Casper Candlewacks in The Claws of Crime’ and its predecessor, the four-and-a-half-stars-on-amazon-rated ‘Casper Candlewacks in Death by Pigeon’, take them to the kindly lady behind the desk along with your loyalty card and those book tokens your uncle gave you for Christmas, and make the finest purchase that a man/woman/manwoman could ever make.
9. CONGRATULATION! You are the proud owner of ‘Casper Candlewacks in The Claws of Crime.’ Now go and blooming read it, for goodness’ sake.
Today (strictly tomorrow, but who’s counting?) is a very special day. After eight dismal months without another Casper adventure, we finally get to find out what happens next to those idiots of Corne-on-the-Kobb! HURRAH!
In Casper and Lamp’s latest adventure, ‘Casper Candlewacks in The Claws of Crime’, our idiotic adventurers are thrown into the centre of an investigation to hunt down the fabled French cat burglar Le Chat. Le Chat has only gone and snuk into the village, bonked Betty Woons round the head with a cricket bat and made off with the famous bejewelled sword that belonged to Sir Gossamer D’Glaze, the medieval knight with great hair who first invented Corne-on-the-Kobb out of some streets and buildings that he had lying about.
Casper and Lamp take it upon themselves to track down the thief and save the village once more. But when an undercover mission goes wrong and Casper’s feral baby sister, Cuddles, gets kidnapped by Le Chat, the need to catch him grows even greater.
I’m not going to tell you what happens, because I’m not silly. But let’s just say, if you like things that are brilliant, you’ll LOVE this book.
You can get ‘Casper Candlewacks in The Claws of Crime’ on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Casper-Candlewacks-Claws-Crime-Brett/dp/000741157X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1325688290&sr=8-2
or at various other places on the internet, or EVEN BETTER, THE REAL WORLD!
Everybody reading this blog is a massive idiot. Every single one. Insulted? Read on…
I don’t normally put anything serious on this blog, but events this week have been making me think. OK, so Ricky Gervais likes being controversial. It’s a thing many comedians do, on purpose of course, in order to be discussed. But Gervais’ latest escapade has been getting more attention than most: by using his twitter account and his latest live show to try to reclaim a word that’s been used for years as derogatory and insulting, and use it as an insult.
I don’t think it’s important to say what the word is here. He might as well have used any word that started its life with negative meaning. He might as well have used ‘idiot’.
My book is full of the word ‘idiot’. It’s almost on every page. The difference in my view is that I’ve reclaimed the word to mean something positive. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.
I’ve visited about thirty schools since April. Every time I ask “What does the word ‘idiot’ mean to you”? “Stupid,” children say, or “forgetful” or “clumsy” or “silly” or once even “an incompetent fool”. They’re right, in a sense. The word started in Ancient Greece as ‘person lacking professional skill’ before meaning ‘uneducated or ignorant’ in Middle English. It’s true – the word ‘idiot’ can quite easily be used negatively.
But then there’s that time your mum spills her tea on the carpet, or when your friend forgets his coat on a cold day. “Oh, you idiot!” you can say, smiling. In this case are you actually saying ‘You are an uneducated and ignorant person’? Of course not. You mean, ‘You make mistakes, but I love you for it.’ You mean ‘We can both see the fault in what you just did.’ Calling someone an idiot can be a term of endearment – it’s a way of embracing failures.
I’m an idiot. I’ll come out and say it.
I AM AN IDIOT!
I can list off a million idiotic things I’ve done without breaking sweat. I’ve walked into a lamp post and said sorry, I’ve put the phone in the fridge after using it, at school I called my teacher ‘mum’ so many times even she started to believe it. But who can truly say they’ve not mucked up once or twice?None of us are perfect, but some of us pretend to be. There are people who are embarrassed by their mistakes, who hide them and cover them up, who think anything less than perfection is a disgrace. Those people are silly. And i mean that in a bad way.
We are judged by what makes us different, and that includes the bad things. For example: I’m terribly forgetful. It’s a fact. No matter how many techniques I try, you can bank on me leaving the house without my keys or my wallet or my shoes. Now I can let that hang over my head like an embarrassing smell, or I can take pride in it! “THIS IS ME!” I can shout, “THE GOOD BITS AND THE BAD!” And if people look at me oddly, I’ll just start shouting louder, and waving around those massive foam hands that they used to have on Gladiators.
If we take pride in our shortcomings, embrace what makes us different, we’re immune to name-calling and bullying. We can finally be honest with ourselves and isolate those bits that might need a little polishing. And that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to be better – of course we should! But we can bear in mind that we can never be perfect, and it’s a waste of time to try.
So we’re all idiots, in that none of us is perfect. But that’s a good thing! Not only does it give us something to strive towards, it gives us something to measure ourselves by.
My book takes place in a village of idiots, the village of Corne-on-the-Kobb. But this place is wonderful! The only person who thinks he’s not an idiot, Casper Candlewacks, ends up becoming one in order to save the day! And I don’t mean ridding himself of brain cells, I mean ridding himself of that seriousness and snore-inducing self-respect that everybody seems to have nowadays. And do you know what? That’s BRILLIANT.
Now…compare this with Ricky Gervais. A word that has been used to describe disabled people has now been changed to describe people he doesn’t like. Can you see the difference between this and my reclaiming of ‘idiot’? You can’t reclaim a word only to use it in the same way. Not only will it NEVER rid itself of the original meaning, it’ll insult so many people that it’s just not worth it. I know Gervais is partially doing this just to be contraversial, but he knows full-well what he’s doing. It’s hurtful and futile, and it wrongly colours the marvellous progression of language that lets ‘idiot’ be used in an endearing way.
So what do you think? I want your honest feedback about this. Am I wrong in using the word ‘idiot’? Is Ricky Gervais justified in what he’s doing? Are my attempt and his attempt really all that different? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter, @ivanbrett.
***addendum*** As noted by @smartestgiant, I spelt ‘controversial’ wrong in this post. I’ll leave it though, to prove that I’m OK with not being perfect.
What follows is the transcript of an actual letter that I actually sent to actual Willie Windsor and Kate Middleton (now the actual Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) a week or so before their wedding. Also enclosed was a copy of ‘Casper Candlewacks in Death by Pigeon!’, generously signed by the author (who is me). Enjoy:
Dear Wills ‘n’ Kate,
Can I call you Wills ‘n’ Kate? I feel like what with all the media attention we’ve been getting in recent weeks we’re practically on first-name terms. Well, hasn’t it been an exciting couple of months, what with your wedding and my book coming out…we really haven’t had a moment to ourselves, have we? The papers just haven’t shut up about what dress I might wear for the launch and how I’ll cope with the pressure of being second-in-line to the front of the Waterstones shelf.
Anyway, I’m writing for two reasons, really. Firstly, obviously, to congratulate you on the wedding. What wonderful news! (On that note, I know there’s barely a week until the big day but I still haven’t received that invite…sorry, I know it’s a little awkward, but could you get Charles to send another one?) But secondly, and most importantly if you don’t mind me saying, I need to apologise. You see, as you’ll no doubt have gathered by now, the very day before you walk down the aisle my very first children’s book, ‘Casper Candlewacks in Death by Pigeon!’, hits the shelves of all good bookshops. There’ll be parties in the street, riots outside every shop and champagne corks popping all over the place. The media’s so excited about plucky little Casper’s misadventures that there’s precious few column inches spare for your wedding. To be honest, I do feel a bit guilty. I mean, you’re a stonking couple and you deserve a lovely wedding, but it’s just a little unfortunate the big day had to fall so close to, oh go on I’ll say it, the social event of the year.
I won’t keep you long. I know you’ll have literally dozens of congratulatory letters to read and I’m certain you do read them all. You don’t want silly old me blathering on for pages on end about my literary exploits. I’ve enclosed a copy of my book as a sort of consolation present, and I hope you don’t hold it against me. I don’t know if you’re allowed to chop off heads any more but I really like mine and I’m planning to hold onto it for at least until the Olympics.
Ooh, I almost forgot. This is a kids’ book – don’t be insulted. I was thinking that maybe there’ll be a Mini-Widdleton to read the book to a couple of years down the line. (If this does happen, please skip pages 215-217 as they’re a little scary and I don’t want to mentally scar the third-in-line to the throne unless I really have to.)
Well, I’d best be off. I need to get down to Tesco’s by tea-time or I won’t have any milk, and you know what Tesco’s are like, they’ll probably only have 2-pinters and I don’t get through that much before the sell-by date. Sorry, I’m rambling. I do that.
Hugs ‘n’ Kisses,
Well, there you have it. If you do see my head rolling past you down the street and if it isn’t attached to my body, please spare a thought for my valiant efforts at appeasing the royal couple, and maybe buy a couple of copies of my book to commemorate the event.
p.s. For those of you who don’t believe I sent it, here’s proof:
…and the inscription:
Hi. Well, isn’t this exciting. Today’s the day when Casper Candlewacks in Death by Pigeon! hits the stores. My my, I’ve been looking forward to saying that for a very long time.
To tie in with the book and to keep you updated about what’s going on in the Wacky World of Casper Candlewacks, I’ll be sticking all sorts of things on this blog: sneak peeks, deleted bits, your opportunity ask a character a question, events, tours and much more (probably. That’s not a promise).
You’ll be able to find the book in all of your normal UK bookshops, lots of places online or just lying around on the street if you’re really lucky. Once you’ve had a read, come back here and get involved. You can also follow me on Twitter (if you swing that way), @ivanbrett.
Coming up in the next week I’ve got an introduction to the book, the transcript of a possibly-treasonous letter I actually sent to Wills’n’K8, the account of a cross-London book search and details of upcoming Casper-related adventures.
I think that’s about all for now. Don’t forget to subscribe via RSS to this blog (little orange thing, bottom left corner) or bookmark it on your browser. Thanks to HarperCollins for making this little website. Isn’t it great? Not so sure about my face looming down on you like that, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.
Until next time,