Post-uni life: Round One

You know that feeling you get when you wake up after a long night’s sleep, and it feels like you’ve only been asleep for a few moments? Well I’ve recently handed in my last ever assignment for university, and its how I’m feeling right now.

Three whole years have gone by, and they feel exactly like a long night’s sleep – i.e. a prolonged blink. So much has changed in my life, and I’ve changed with it. Actually, that’s a lie; I haven’t really changed at all. Rather, I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin than I ever have before. Being a student of creative writing and film studies and being part of my student TV team has allowed me to not only indulge in my passions, but finally release my quirky self amongst like-minded people.
Uni is now done, except for graduation. But until then, and after, what now?

My dream career is to be a professional writer/film-maker, and I’ve already bagged myself several freelance writing positions at various film/TV/sci-fi websites and magazines, so really my life right now couldn’t be better.

But deep down I feel somewhat petrified and depressed. Petrified because now that I’ve finished my educational life (I’m not planning to do any sort of Masters), I’m free to do whatever I want, and I previously thought I knew what I wanted. But here I am, waiting to go back home, and that’s where these feelings are radiating from.

In short, I don’t want to go back home. Home is a farm in Lincolnshire, situated between the countryside and the sea. We’re out on the marshlands, in the middle of nowhere. We’ve no shops, one pub that keeps closing down and changing hands and no neighbours. If you want some milk or the paper, you have to drive to the next village.

Three years living with everything within walking distance makes me feel like these past three years have been something of a waste. The idea of going back to nothing is hugely depressing. Now at this point, I think I can tell what you’re thinking. I should just stop moaning, get a flat, and live my life, right? Well that would be just too bloody easy, wouldn’t it?

My family is in tatters. My mum is not in the best of health and both my brothers are disabled, which makes living on a farm, complete with animals and outbuildings that constantly need looking after, just the perfect way of life. I myself am neither disabled nor in any ill health, so my mum is only too keen to put me to work on anything and everything an elderly/disabled person can’t do.

And that’s where the problem lies. I don’t just feel obliged to help out, I feel trapped. I feel like I may not get out of that place until my mum passes away, and then I’ll still be trapped. Both my brothers are disabled to the point where they need constant care, and getting genuine care for them is a nightmare.

And I know nothing of how flat-buying works. Do I have the money right now to get a place of my own? Even if I do, where do I go? Do I stay within close distance of home? If not, does it make sense to go back home, find a waiter/cleaner job, save up and then bugger off?

But don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind helping out at all, that’s one of the rules of being a family. But my family isn’t much to write home about. When I was younger, I was immensely selfish and lazy, and learnt the hard way how being part of a family work. And I’m grateful to have somewhere to go back to at all. I think it’s just that I’ve outgrown it. I don’t need it anymore. I know how to look after myself now.

So I guess this is what it boils down to. Feeling trapped. Feeling like, although no-one says it, I’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere with my life on hold. After all, how are you supposed to meet new people in the middle of nowhere? Ever since my dad died just over a year ago I feel, more than ever, like it’s my duty to return back home and forget everything I’ve achieved these past three years. What good’s a BA when you can help your brother clear-up all the horseshit in the field?

As I said earlier, I thought my dream was to be a professional writer/film-maker. Right now my dream is to have my own flat and have a go at life the way I want to, without feeling the need to get my mum’s approval. She left her home when she was 17. 17! I’ve spoken to hear a couple of times about getting a place of my own once I leave uni, even encouraging her to kick me out so I’ll at least have an excuse to go get my own life. All she can say is, ‘oh Fred, I’ll never kick you out’.

Is this what she’ll be saying to me in five years time, or ten?

So that’s my conundrum, another panic in the life of Fred. Maybe there are some people out there in similar situations? If so, we should just band together and form a society for the soon-to-be-mentally-and-emotionally-deranged.

Or else, we could just get a flat together.

Book review – Filmed in Supermarionation

I’ll be honest here, whatever I’ve written below, it’s totally biased. If I wasn’t biased, I wouldn’t have bought the book.

I’m biased because I believe that Gerry Anderson is the greatest film/TV producer you’ve never heard of. If you really haven’t heard of him (what are you even doing here?), he’s the chap responsible for those glorious 1960’s sci-fi marionette shows; Stingray, Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, etc.

DSC00644He also dabbled in many other forms of TV/film entertainment, including live-action, hand-puppetry, stop-motion animation, Japanese animation, and CGI animation. As my description of him suggests, he’s a man whose achievements are often overlooked in the media world, so perhaps even before you’ve read it, it’s already a marvellous thing that some 40-plus years after his shows were first broadcast, there now exists an authoritative history on the making of Gerry’s marionette works.

Stephen La Riviere’s ‘Filmed in Supermarionation’ is not as complete as its name implies. It doesn’t cover every single production Gerry ever did, but does cover his marionette shows, from The Adventures of Twizzle (1957) to The Secret Service (1969).

As this is really the first book of it’s kind (aside from Chris Bentley’s individual works on Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, and UFO), there have been countless tales of these shows that have passed down into legendary folklore, so it’s nice to finally set the record straight. And the book does more than that.

It both mixes and digs into the history of A.P. Films/Century 21 Productions, fusing archive interviews and freshly conducted correspondence/examinations – the old and the new, much like Gerry’s shows themselves, into one thoroughly enjoyable history lesson. A lesson that mirrors the surface nature of what Gerry’s shows always entailed: a potent cocktail of drama, excitement, adventure, comedy, and lots and lots and lots and lots of explosions.

Its beautifully presented as well, divided into chapters that cover each production and mixing in photographs and drawings, some already known to the die-hard Anderfan (such as promotional images for Captain Scarlet), but they gain a sweeter resonance when included in such a definitive, historical account as this.

La Riviere’s style of writing is engaging as well, never reading as too stuffy or pretentious, and its clear he’s as much a fan of Gerry’s work as the fan whose writing this review (possibly even more.). His writing bubbles with the enthusiasm you’d expect in an Anderfan (we’re a hardcore bunch; you can’t just be a casual fan of Gerry’s. It’s like being a Kamikaze pilot – all or nothing.).

Overall, it automatically wins as the best historical account of Supermarionation, because it’s really the only one! But fortunately, its more than a history lesson, it’s really comes across as a thank you to those who created these wonderful shows. So pick up a copy, sit back, and as that old saying goes, ‘Standby for action!’