Hello Ladies, Gentlemen, those who aren’t quite sure and, of course K’Barthans. Welcome, once again, to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is Will Macmillan Jones, writer of the acclaimed Banned Underground humorous fantasy series, fellow authorholic and petrol head. Will is also branching out into horror with his first book The Showing, out now and more promised. You can find his blog here .
Mary, good afternoon. Unless you are uploading this in the morning of course.
Come on! You know me, consistently late despite being still alive.
True, but then as the song says, ‘It’s five o’clock somewhere’*. That’s a good maxim to live by, I always think.
Very true, so, can you tell us a little more about yourself?
Those who know me are aware that I write fantasy, and a little horror. I’ve got a little horror too, only she’s becoming quite grown up now and will be away to University next year: I might get some peace and quiet to write a bit more then. Alternatively I might suddenly come across the TV remote whilst cleaning her bedroom, and get distracted, although (as you will see) that’s rather unlikely.
Hmm… TV and procrastination, the two great enemies of writers everywhere, OK then, I’m dying to know, what’s your first candidate to go into Box 010?
So, what would I consign to Room 010? Jim favoured beaurocracy. I can’t agree with him there – it has been a wonderful source of inspiration to me. I remember once reading a provision in one of the Finance Acts in the 1970s that was approximately fifty lines of closely printed type, entirely devoid of meaningful punctuation. Photocopies were being passed around the Inland Revenue – where I worked at the time – and there were rumours of a prize for anyone who could correctly interpret the intended meaning. It was probably a promotion, such a competition being the only remaining route to professional advancement at the time.
Mwah ha ahhargh. I can believe it. But stick with the programme, Will. Focus. Your first item..?
Yes, sorry, I digress. My first consignee would be anyone who records those dreadful noises I hear occasionally when retuning the radio. I think it’s called ‘Drum N Bass’.
Drum N Bass Artists: Everyone involved in any way within the music industry has fixed ideas about the musical qualities of those who play those instruments. No smoke without fire, say I. I loathe the stuff. I don’t mind the fact it’s repetitive, just that every single track I’ve ever heard appears to be completely interchangeable. There’s clearly some clever bloke in a cellar somewhere who recorded the initial track, and now leases it out to all the others who are too lazy to learn to play something different. I must be getting old, and hankering for a time when musicians could actually play their instruments, and sing without the need to have their voices electronically altered, or even mime.
I have to say, I am absolutely with you there Will. I am a curmudgeon, I know but even when I was a kid, and supposed to like it, I loathed that kind of thing.
My next target will be dear to your heart too, Mary. There is a particular breed of driver who should be shot. I can cope with the elderly drivers in their elderly Nissans who bumble around the country lanes at fifteen miles an hour. You can identify them easily, and know what you are dealing with. It’s the same with farmers in their preferred transport, middle aged Freelanders. You know that they are likely to stop at any or every field gate, and that brake lights are an optional extra (which being farmers, they are on average too mean to buy).
Oooh easy tiger, I can think of several people who are going to have stern words with you over your comments about farmers. Sorry, do go on.
My ire is reserved for those who buy reasonably quick cars, and then take them out onto lovely curving roads for a spin, and still drive them at what seems like fifteen miles an hour. Just last week I was out looking for a bit of legitimate and legal fun (trust me, whatever you were using, if you drove along this road at the legal speed limit you would very quickly have been taking flying lessons. The first lesson being: cars have a very poor glide angle) on a Welsh road that rather resembles the beautiful road used in the James band film Goldfinger. And who should I end up following? Some muppet in a convertible going round corners as slowly as possible. Grrrrrrrrrrrr!
Actually, I completely understand this one as well, I got stuck behind a couple of middle aged gimmers driving an Aston at about 20mph the other day and I have to say, it was peculiarly distressing. So, what’s the third thing you would like to see scrubbed with Vim from the face of time?
And now we come to lawyers. I hate lawyers. Come the revolution, let’s put them all up against the wall and open fire. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the country would be a better place if everyone was given the right to shoot lawyers, on let’s say, one particular day of the year. Maybe the summer solstice? The druids would have a ready supply of sacrificial victims for their rites at Stonehenge. Of course, this plan – clearly acceptable to all right thinking people – would have to be made into law, and that’s where the practical problem would arise. The lawyers would have to be brought in to draft the law, and I’m sure they would make it as confusing as every other piece of legislation ever drafted by some lawyer with one eye on the enormous fees to be made from the subsequent need to work out just what the hell had been meant by the wording now enshrined in the ever growing laws that surround us. Like everything else in our fair land, it started out with the very best of intentions with the Magna Charta (signed by King John), and has been going downhill for the last thousand years or so.
Mr McGuire hates lawyers, or perhaps I should rephrase that, he hates other lawyers. But then he works for inventors and scientists so they like plain speaking contracts that tell it like it is. What is your fourth item for Box 010?
Television: Mostly, I cannot stand television. Endless soaps, stealing each others’ story lines and using interchangeable actors. Endless episodes on how to improve your home/sell your home/buy another one. They should be sponsored by estate agents. Maybe they are. When I’m writing, which I do rather a lot, I prefer to have some soothing music playing. The sweet, pastoral idyll of ‘No Sleep ‘Till Hammersmith’* perchance. Sadly my teenager commandeers the TV remote, and every evening I am subjected to the torture of endless repeats of American Dad and Family Guy. I actually laughed at some of the jokes the first time I saw some of the episodes. But not now. When I was her age, I used to use some prog rock as a meditation device. After all, if I dropped off to sleep for a few minutes and then woke up, I could be fairly sure I hadn’t missed much and would still be listening to the same track. Or at least something that sounded like the same track, even if it wasn’t. Unless I dozed for too long of course, and the vinyl had ended. Anyway, back to TV, which is spookily the same as prog rock these days. Almost all the programmes are entirely awful, and quite often indistinguishable. But then I suppose that there’s a danger that if the fools making most of these soaps and endless house improvement programmes were not allowed to do them anymore, they’d all go off and be lawyers instead and make the country even worse. So maybe I’m wrong.
OK then Will, what is your fifth and final item?
Estate Agents: Anyone who has ever bought or sold a house, or even rented one, will have come up against this pernicious breed. For one thing, they seem unable to fix a simple value to a house. When you are trying to sell, several slightly oily people will wander round your home with a critical eye, before pronouncing a number a wildly varying valuations, all based on their personal opinion of the property, or indeed of you yourself. Mostly, they will all be trying to outdo each other to encourage you to sign up with them instead of their nearby competitor, of course. Then when a prospective buyer offers a substantially different and much lower sum for the house, they will all murmur: ‘of course, the market is a little difficult at present’. It’s always difficult, isn’t it? And the descriptions they create of properties? I’m supposed to be a fantasy author, and I’m left gasping in awe. Is there a training course they go on that helps them to invent these wonderful, mellifluous phrases and lie with less compunction than a lawyer? ‘Splendid Outlook’ (a picturesque view of the local tip). ‘Unlikely to be overlooked’ (No one in their right mind would have built a house there in the first place, and even builders can learn from their mistakes). ‘Convenient for the amenities’ (there’s a car park for the local superstore and retail park on the other side of the road). ‘Excellent Access’ (If your lawyer remembers to wake up long enough to do the searches he will find that planning permission to demolish the house next door and replace it with a four lane super highway complete with roundabouts and flyovers was granted last week). ‘Spacious Accommodation’ (The dwarfs I write about would consider it so, certainly. The removal men tasked with teasing your expensive furniture up the narrow,steep and twisting stairs will have other views on the matter and will express them to you at length in return for tea).
So, there you have it. My five suggestions for Room 010.
Marvellous, that’s grand! McOther will be casting his vote for this last one although, it’ll probably be from Box 010 by next week. So… Will Macmillan Jones, thank you very much for joining me.
Thank you, Mary, for the opportunity for a rare rant.
It was a pleasure.
Right, then everyone, if you’d like to vote there’s link to the poll further down the page. To find more about Will Macmillan Jones and his books you can visit his blog here, the Banned Underground website, here and his Amazon author page, here.
Join us next week for the results, and in two weeks’ time, when we will be finding out what really ticks off Will Macmillan Jones when he puts his five most loathed items into Box 010.
*Motorhead’s live album. Buy it. Now. See? I even do footnotes in a guest blog.