Saturday, 19 November 2011

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies

Okay, so it's not the best quote in the world but quite honestly, I'm sick of looking. My thoughts of the day are about A Moment That Changed My Life and you can't imagine the sort of nauseous gloop that came up when I was searching. Or perhaps you can.

Anyway - here's a pretty ickle butterfly.

An Orange Tip. My favourite sort. It looks like the inside of a Cadbury's Creme Egg.

So - A Moment That Changed My Life. As a writer, this is. There are a few of them, but this is the first I can remember. Another chance encounter on the radio. (Isn't it strange how life-changing moments are so often serendipitous?) And here's the weirdest thing. I was thinking about this radio play yesterday and absolutely by some fluke, since it was first broadcast in 1997, it was repeated on Radio 4 Extra at 3 a.m. this morning. No, I didn't stay awake for it.

So here it is:

Lee Hall is the guy who also wrote the Billy Elliot screenplay. Spoonface Steinberg completely blew me away. If I list the ingredients, you'd imagine it must be as gloopy and nauseous and mawkish and toe-curlingly awful as all the quotes about life-changing moments.

Here: A 7-year-old Jewish girl who is autistic and comes from a broken home, with a vodka-swilling mum and a useless, self-pitying dad discovers she's dying of cancer. Oh, and her doctor tells her about Jews in concentration camps and she finds inspiration from hearing about those who die with their spirit unbowed and the transforming power of music - in this case, Maria Callas singing Casta Diva, from the opera Norma, by Bellini.

From this description, Spoonface Steinberg may sound like a tick-box exercise in cramming every possible challenging situation into as small a space as possible.

No, and ten thousand times NO (ten thousand - my favourite number!)

It was the most moving, uplifting, funny, lyrical and joyful piece of writing I've ever encountered - and probably still is. It was made into a stage play and a TV Film but really it worked best in its original form - as a dramatic monologue for the radio.

Casta Diva is my music of inspiration. Listen, if you'd like. Prepare to be blown away

And here is the Listen Again link for the play itself - sadly, possibly only available in the UK, and then, only temporarily? Spoonface Steinberg

I urge you to beg, borrow or steal a copy from somewhere.

As a result of listening to this, I was inspired. I saw possibilities that I had never thought existed to break the shackles of convention with my words.

As a result of listening to this, I wrote my first piece - Ain't So Neat - a dramatic monologue for the radio.

As a result of listening to this, I've never looked back.