Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 in writing

Just a note to say thank you to the people that published my work this year. I'm very grateful for being able to collaborate with great editors and directors.


Lighthouse (Nov 2015) Story 'The only thing is certain is': Link
Minor Literature[s] (June 2015) Story 'The photographer's heap': Link
Unreal Cities (June 2015) Project, with Ruby Cowling @ ACF: Link
3:AM Magazine (March 2015) Story ‘Jim Froydon's Lines’: Link
Flash Europa 28 (Feb 2015) Story 'A Wall on Dartmoor': Link 
Chosen by The British Council as a representative of the UK. Translated into Chinese.
The Stockholm Review (Jan 2015) Story 'A Wall on Dartmoor': Link


RIFT (July 2015) STYXLink


The Guardian (Dec 2015) Feature 'Master of the house': Link
The Writing Platform (Oct 2015) Feature 'Writing in Instagram and Twitter': Link
Minor Literature[s] (Oct 2015) Book review 'We Were Meant to be a Gentle People': Link
The Guardian (Oct 2015) Feature 'Questions on privacy': Link
The Guardian (Oct 2015) Feature 'The language of the cloud': Link
The Guardian (July 2015) Feature 'The panopticon and digital surveillance?': Link
The Guardian (July 2015) Feature 'The telegraph and the invention of privacy': Link
The Guardian (June 2015) Feature 'Art and the data-driven city': Link
The Guardian (May 2015) Feature 'Giving drones a good name': Link
VICE (March 2015) Feature 'It’s Vital to Have Video Games That Aren’t ‘Fun’': Link
New Statesman (March 2015) Feature 'Digital hieroglyphics': Link
The Guardian (Feb 2015) Feature 'The sublime in cinema': Link
Kill Screen (Jan 2015) Feature 'The Everyday Lives of Videogame Characters': Link

I also started a new job as a staff writer at Alphr, and have written about the overlap between culture and technology. Eg: Games and fear, Twitter bots, Immersive journalism, The internet and death, Virtual reality and Minecraft poetry.

Thanks again. Happy New Year.

Friday, 20 March 2015


Go here:

Part of novel


The first time we exchanged words a bird died. It had been limping up and down the same short stretch of pavement outside the Little Lamb hotpot restaurant on Shaftsbury Avenue with both its wings clearly broken. Most likely it had been hit by a car. I would’ve helped it; carried it home in a box or called a vet, if it hadn’t been for the fact that my friends had arrived and our table was ready. When I sat down to order I could still see it from the corner of my eye, through the glass door, about five feet from where I was sitting. By the time I left the restaurant it was motionless in the gutter.
            The walls of the Little Lamb are covered in mirrors and there is one small TV attached to the wall. The mirrors give the effect that there is not one but ten or twelve screens, depending on where you happen to be sitting. The mirrors also give the impression there are more customers in the restaurant than there are in reality and that the restaurant itself is much bigger than it actually is. A lot of places use this trick but the TV in the Little Lamb breaks the illusion with its reflected, backwards subtitles which, to be completely fair to the restaurant, probably aren’t that noticeable unless you happen to be able to read Chinese. I can’t read Chinese. But I have a friend who can and one time during a meal in the Little Lamb he told me he was confused about why the subtitles on the TV were back to front. I explained that it was a reflection of the actual TV positioned above our heads and he slapped his forehead like a cartoon character and told me he was stupid and also a little drunk.
On the night the bird died the TV was again positioned above my head. As my friends slid into place around me I watched the report reflected in the mirror. Any thoughts I had about the injured pigeon were soon forgotten in the face of the news with its images of sprawling residential towers shrouded in haze, intercut with seemingly endless crowds of Chinese citizens walking with white ventilation masks strapped across their mouths. These images were nothing new. I’d seen them before and had grown to expect them in pretty much every news item I ever saw about China. Anytime China was mentioned on the news it could be expected to be alongside images of crowds and towers. Only the cookery programmes showed a different side, with misty mountains and temples and old men making noodles in ways that would soon be forgotten when they died. What held my attention on that night wasn’t the news, it was the image of a bright orange circle that for a few seconds took up the whole of the TV screen, reflected on all of the walls of the restaurant. I’d never seen the sun look so circular, and I said this aloud to my group of friends. In response they each turned in various directions to see what I meant. The sun was a uniform deep orange. It was beautiful and it shone over interior of the Little Lamb.
There was one other customer in the restaurant on that night and he too looked up from his table at the many circular reflections. Me, my friends, the waiters and this man all stared in silence at the sun before the report carried on, cutting to an interview with a woman in a suit standing in front of a forklift truck gesturing to some scaffolding. My friends started talking about their workdays and the waiters went back to chatting behind the counter. The man at the other table turned to look at me and he was still looking at me when I raised my eyes again from the menu.
I had in fact seen the man several times before that night. He tended to sit at the same table, often alone, with enough meat and vegetables for one person to dip into the simmering pot of stock. I recognised him because, although he didn’t look at all Chinese, he seemed to be able to speak the language with complete, masterful fluency; something that had made my own clumsy jabbing at the menu seem infinitely cruder by comparison. The other non-Chinese customers I’d observed during the few times I’d been to the restaurant occasionally attempted to speak Mandarin but this generally resulted in the waiters asking them again what it was they wanted, to which they would coyly mutter in English and point at the menu.
I’d been tempted on several occasions to compliment the man on his Mandarin, or at the very least the convincingness of his Mandarin to someone who didn’t know the language, but whenever I’d thought about speaking to him the food had arrived and I was soon occupied with dipping strips of meat in boiling water. The eye contact made on that night was the first time that the man had showed any sign of registering my presence and I wondered then if he too recognised me from my previous trips to the Little Lamb. These thoughts, like those of the injured bird limping to and fro metres from where I sat, were soon submerged in the spicy stock as I tipped first the sliced potatoes and then the balls of beefs into the water. 
One of my friends had been on a disastrous date and she was telling us the details. She had recently visited Iceland and, coincidentally, so had the man she’d been on the date with. You’d assume that this would be a good point of conversation but her date had been violently sick the entire time and hadn’t enjoyed it one bit. She’d told him about the natural beauty of the Blue Lagoon and he’d told her about the unsettled bowel movements he’d had from eating a bad piece of fish. Apart from this he refused to say much else for the entire date, which, we all agreed, was unfortunate. The news had finished and the TV was now showing a Chinese historical drama with a group of men dressed in elaborate period costumes. I watched the drama as my friend continued to talk about her date’s fluctuations between awkward silence and ardent confessions of diarrhoea. The men on the TV were in a forest, squatted down in the bushes. Whatever they were talking about seemed to be important and there was a lot of nodding. I noticed that the man on the other table was also watching the TV, his mouth open and his chopsticks frozen in place, inches from his face. There was a mushroom between his chopsticks that slipped from place and landed on the table with a small splat. When this happened the man awoke from his reverie and moved the fallen piece of food to the side of his table. With the mushroom cast aside he looked in the mirror to see if anyone had noticed his lapse in concentration. This was the second time we made eye contact.  
            At one point the man got up and, after speaking to the waiter, went into the back room. I started to talk about China. I told my friends that although I’d never physically been there and although I knew little to nothing about its history, I was certainly a fan of the food. It’s a big place, someone told me. They have many different types of dishes. I agreed with this and waved my hand at the hot pot, explaining that hot pot is popular in Beijing but lots of Chinese food in London is Cantonese because of the connection to Hong Kong. One of my friends changed the subject and started talking about how there’s a great deal of construction work going on in China. They are always building so many buildings. Lots and lots of buildings. I responded that there are lots of buildings in London as well, waving my hand to the street. There are new skyscrapers and new apartment complexes being built all the time. What about The Shard? The Gherkin? Is it really all that different? The man who had been sat at the other table must have been listening from the back room because he emerged at this point and walked towards us.
            It is not the same, he told me. London is locked down. It is fixed. There may be new buildings but they are growing like moss on a turtle shell. In China the ground is moving. It shifts beneath your feet.
          We didn’t know what to say to this and after standing in silence for a few seconds the man went back to his table. We continued to eat and then I asked him from across the room if he was from China. He nodded. He said he had lived there as a boy. I didn’t know what to say to this either, so I smiled and finished my meal. He was still sat at the table when we collected our coats and paid the bill. I tried to make eye contact with him again when I moved towards the exit but he kept his eyes fixed on the reflected TV screen, still showing the men dressed in historical costumes. I closed the glass door and, parting ways with my friends, stepped over the corpse of the bird.

Friday, 12 December 2014

People who write games should be engaging with literary culture as much as they engage with games culture.

I’ve spoken to a number of game writers and developers who’ve expressed, in one way or another, that games should be treated with the same critical weight as more established cultural-capital-letters like Literature, Art, Cinema. It’s an old and pretty boring argument; games are art, games aren’t art, art is urinals, urinals are games, etc.

I'm on the side of games. I fully believe they are an interesting, important medium. What really frustrates me about this though is that when you ask those game writers to talk to you about literature, they’re pretty unwilling to go outside of their particular niche. Rarely do they stray outside of science fiction and fantasy. They seldom go to live readings and they almost certainly don’t read literary journals.

This is a massive generalisation, both of gaming culture and the routes into literary culture, but I have been struck nevertheless by the gaping hole between the two camps. There wouldn’t necessarily be anything wrong with this if it weren’t for two important things:

1: Gaming culture is going through a seismic shift in identity and the nerdy young male hegemony is being shattered by the inclusion of new audiences. Unless games writers widen their literary nets to engage with a new set of audiences they will lose them.

2: These are writers we’re talking about. It would be pretty unthinkable for a novelist or short story writer not to be engaged with a wide variety of literature, and it is entirely arrogant for a games writer to demand acceptance from a literary culture when they themselves refuse to properly engage with that culture.

Writing has up until now been an ancillary part of game design, normally done by the developers themselves who most likely haven’t had much in the way of writing practice, but a new wave of writers/developers is putting greater importance on quality of writing. Jake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy from Cardboard Computer and Dan Pinchbeck from The Chinese Room are each pushing the boundaries when it comes to games writing, and all of them have shown an engagement with the wider literary culture, from 20th century avant-garde theatre to 19th century Romantic novels.

Games writers who think they can survive on mediocre writing need to up their game, because developers like these are increasing in number. You need to read wide and read deep. Read outside of your medium and outside of your comfort zone.

You need to get reading now because there are better writers coming your way.  

Friday, 29 August 2014

My Little Fox (Scene for RIFT's Macbeth)


The three sisters begin with a short scene together, where one says she has seen a fox. This short scene ends with the three sisters each leaving with a handful of audience members.

The following scene is the same for each sister.  As she tells the story, she ritually washes the audience. She wipes their sweat and washes their hands/arms.

After that scene, the three sisters come back together.

1 Three together
2 Three apart 
3 Three together


Sister 1:                                What hast thou seen, sister?

Sister 2:                                I saw a fox.

Sister 1:                                Where didst thou see it, sister?

Sister 2:                                Along the corridor.

Sister 3:                                You didn’t see a thing.

Sister 2:                                I saw a fox. A fox, a fox. 

Sister 3:                                There was no fox.

                Sister 2 becomes sad at the thought. Sister 1 comforts 2.

Sister 2:                                My speech is weak. It’s falling down.

                Sister 3 removes 1 from 2.

Sister 3:                                Prop yourself up.

                Sister 2 pulls herself together.

                                            There’s more to come.
                                            There’s a ritual now that needs to be done.

                Sisters separate and take one third of the audience each with them.



Take your time.

Sister sighs and visibly relaxes. She becomes more ‘natural’.

Are you tired?

Sister encourages the audience members to (briefly) speak to her on the subject of sleep. Her response to their speech is friendly yet cold.
The sister can admit that she is tired.
“Your eyes look heavy.”
“It’s the worst thing to be told you look tired, isn’t it?”
The sister fills a bowl with water from a bottle and dampens a towel. This will be used to ritualistically clean the audience members, ie, dampen their brow, clear their hands, wash their arms.
If an audience member asks the sister where she has been, then she continues with the following speech. Otherwise, she should manoeuvre the conversation to lead into the following speech.

I wandered through a forest, the trees dark…the soil wet…A fox, a fox. It ran between the trees…
            Sister moves to select a bottle of white wine and brings it to the centre.  

I wandered without my sisters. I pushed the branches away. My wrists were black and blue. I wandered home and where the trees all grouped together I waited and called but there was no sight, there was no sound.

Was I asleep? When the trees grew sparse…When I wandered towards the city lights? Was I sleeping when I walked by the road?


Do you know the place? Where the forest meets the city?

The trees stop when you lean against the barriers.

Only one car stopped as I stood beneath the streetlight. The window was spotless. I tapped at the glass.
           Sister drinks. She dampens the towel.

I sat in the leather seat. The air conditioning was cold.
           The Sister uses the wet towel to wash the brow of an audience member.

“Breathe. Calm down,” he said. “You’re breathing so quickly. Calm down.”

I could see the trees in the headlights. Lit up. The branches yellow. The bark brown.

“I can take you to the police,” he said. His voice was so calm. “I can take you there now.”

But I didn’t want to go to the police. He took me to a hospital. I didn’t go inside…I stood by the door and after he drove off I wandered out.

There was no-one else there.

Are you comfortable?

The Sister uses the wet towel to wash the hands of an audience member.

Was I sleeping in the forest still? The ground was wet beneath my head…A fox, a fox…That wandered against me lying there…I walked along the streets.

 I called for my sisters but no-one answered…I wandered past the shops. The lights were all turned off. I looked into the windows and I could see the clothing…The skirts and the dresses …Arms spread…black bird…There was a bird flying between the branches.
              The Sister uses the wet towel to wash the arms of an audience member.

 “Give me your arm,” he said. “Rest it here on the leaves.”          

I walked past the buildings. I looked at how high they were…I walked on my own, beside the river. I headed east. Something drew me back, I didn’t know where else to go...

The tower was the only place I knew.

Did you feel the same way? Did you feel like this was the only place you could’ve gone?

Sister drinks from the bottle of wine.

You must be so tired. You’ve been awake for so long.

I leant my back against the wall and rested for a moment. I caught my breath…A fox, a fox. I saw a fox beside the gates.

Was I sleeping still?

Was my head on the ground? Were my sister’s beside me?

I thought…I thought it was raining…the rain fell on my head…wet head…the little drops…he’d kept me dry…at least there was that…dry and clean… I thought it was raining…the rain was coming and there was only the gate to the tower…only the gate to go through.

I pushed the button to his floor and the lift took me up.  I went to his floor. I opened the door to this flat and he was waiting.

“Give me your arm,” he said. “Rest it on me.”

The Sister uses the wet towel to soak the hand of an audience member.

 “There’s Witchcraft in the way you kiss me,” he said.

I looked at the window, at the lights spread out...the buildings all lit…TVs on…the walls all blue…the people sat together…and there I watched as he called his friends…I watched their faces reflected as they walked through the door.   

“My little fox, you’re breathing so fast. Rest your head on the leaves.”

They came and stood around me….their boots…their heels...the trunks of the trees.

“My little fox, you’ve come to wash us clean.”

So I washed their hands and I washed their feet. I washed the dirt from their fingers and I cleaned the sweat from their necks. I peeled the dirt from the bark but…but the trees came down …I called for my sisters but there was no sight, there was no sound. The branches fell…they scratched at my skin.

“Rest your head on the leaves. Let them cover you.”

And they covered me. They covered me.

             The sister drinks from the bottle again. The sister slams the bottle down (smashes it?)
 This point should mark a change in the sister. She becomes intimidating in the way she    speaks.

But I pushed them away…I pushed at the fingers, the thorns…“Breathe and be still.” I would not be still. “Breathe. Calm down. You’re breathing so quickly. Calm down.” I would not calm. I stood up straight. I tore at the bark. “Your nails are sharp. There’s fire in your eyes.” And I tugged at the branches…I kicked at the brambles…I pulled at the roots ‘til they popped from their sockets.

All the toil that was piled on me. All the trouble I’d cause in return.

They called me a witch… They don’t like the look of me now… They choose that way to see me when I made this tower my home.

The eye of newt… tongue of dog… poison’d entrails… Swelter'd venom sleeping got…

 (Mournful) I just wanted to be with my sisters…I only want to be with them.

Sister pours gas into the bowl of water and lights it. She drips the audience’s sweat (from the towel) on the flames.

In my arms I collected the twigs and in a bonfire I burnt them. I emptied a can of petrol …I lit a match…The smoke went high into the air.

Was I sleeping still?

Was I sleeping when I saw a fox beside the flames…a fox who leapt and danced…who kicked its back and raised its jaw…

Was I sleeping?



The knocking keeps on ticking.

There is a change in mood. The ritual is over. The sister puts out the fire by draping the wet towel over the flames.

The sister walks back to the concourse where she is joined by the other sisters, each returning from their same scene.

Sister 2:                                A fox, a fox. I saw a fox.

Sister 3:                                There was no fox.  

Sister 2:                                I saw it in my room.

Sister 1:                                The foxes are all gone. They’ve long gone from here.

Sister 2:                                I saw it as I slept.

Sister 3:                                Macbeth hath murdered sleep.

Sister 2:                                Macbeth, Macbeth. Those knock keeps on coming.

Sister 3:                                The knocking won’t stop.

Sister 2:                                I called for you my sister…

Sister 1:                                I called for you my sister…

Sister 3:                                I called for you my sister…

Sister 2:                                But you wouldn’t come.

                Lead into the next scene.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Website and Guardian


Brief message to say I've got a new website (here). I'll still be using this blog to put up sketches and stories.

I also had a recent feature with The Guardian about immersive theatre and video games. You can read it here.


Monday, 27 January 2014

Jim Froydon’s Lines

Jim Froydon’s Lines, with uncompromising force of vision, has delivered a shot in the arm to the American sitcom; a genre that to many has become stale, predictable and ubiquitous. Froydon’s excellent show, premiering tonight on British television, takes the basic form of the sitcom genre and flips it on its head.

We are all used to seeing the interiors of flats, cafes, restaurants, offices. These are where the scenes of shows happen, the places that the characters meet to joke, argue, fall in love. Yet what Lines does, and what has already built a definite buzz across the Atlantic, is deny us entry to these scenes, to limit us to the places between those locations. We follow the characters from the moment they leave the door of one location, walking to the coffee house, catching the bus to the office, and we leave the moment they arrive at their destination. There are few words, maybe the occasional conversation with a stranger, an enquiry about the price of a return ticket. Sometimes the characters have tears in their eyes, sometimes they can’t stop themselves from laughing.

Was that her voice? I heard it coming from the room.
What? I can’t hear a thing.
I thought I heard her. Something she said, I could swear it was her.
Your hands are sweating. It’s making me nervous.
You can tell they’re sweating?
They’re sweating. I can see the sweat from here.
You should be nervous as well.
I’m trying not to be.
I’d be nervous if I were you.  
There’s every reason to believe it’s a baby.
Wait. Is she groaning now? Are they covering her mouth?
We have to believe it. The equipment isn’t infallible.
And tumours don’t kick.
And tumours don’t kick.

Much of the episodes take place on public transport. The camera pays equal attention to the parts of the characters’ bodies as it does to seat-cushions and handrails. The heavy eyelids of a character come into the frame for a few moments before cutting to the pale blue tessellated pattern on the floor of the train. What might sound like a tedious experience is surprisingly easy to watch and, with complete honesty, I found the gentle rocking of the carriage in these drawn-out sequences to be incredibly soothing. I’ll admit that as the character drifted into a short sleep so did I, and when my head jolted back to consciousness it was just in time to see the same action performed by the character on the screen.

Tell me the details.
They pulled it out…the shape of an egg. She was so tired afterwards. It stank, apparently.
She almost passed out but the stink of it kept her awake. There was a glistening film. Glistening was the word they used. It was coated in a wet film that dripped over the midwife’s hands. She gagged and had to pass our baby to the doctor. And his face gave it all away. The look he gave to that thing in his hands must’ve been much the same as the one he later offered me when I sat with him in his office. I’d say horror, confusion, futility. In the end all he could do was shrug. It has a heartbeat, he said. It has a heartbeat but it doesn’t have a heart.   

The nervousness about the trip is often palpable, as if the characters are on the way to an imminent breakup or a family death at the hospital. In the first two episodes given to reviewers I followed several different characters that reappeared throughout. There was a twenty-something lady with bleached blonde hair, a bald middle-aged father, a pregnant woman, a handsome man with a neatly trimmed beard. These people, although never given names, quickly become familiar to you. When the pregnant woman stared out of bus window I wanted to know the reason for her bottom lip to quiver. When she sighed and her breath momentarily clouded the cold glass I wanted to know the reason for her to sigh so deeply.

It’s about a foot, a foot and a half. It’s egg-shaped. It has a round base and it tapers up towards the top. It’s smooth. It was smooth. Yesterday it was smoother. Now there’s a kind of roughness around the base. If I touch it… it’s hard. Metal. A hard plastic. When we first brought it home it seemed a lot softer. It’s gotten harder. It must’ve gotten harder. There are ridges now, around the base. If I touch the ridges they…
How does she…
You know…
No. I don’t know.
Breastfeed. How does she breastfeed?
Jesus. Why do you have to ask that?
It’s an honest question. Does she do it the same way you normally would? Does she do it at all?
I don’t know. Ask her.
People want to know.
People? What people?
Does she put her nipple in the opening? People say there’s an opening.
What people?
Puckered. A puckered hole. It’s reported that there’s a puckered hole. Can you confirm or deny the presence of a hole?
I think there’s a hole.
Is it puckered?
I don’t know what you mean.
Something like this.
Oh, right. It’s a little like that.
Are you writing this down?

Froydon’s genius comes from preventing the audience from having any clear insight into the characters. It seems like it would be all too easy to continue following the character once they pass through the front-door of their home. There were times while watching the first episode that I shouted violently at the screen. I screamed at the moment a bleached-hair young lady turned the key into what can only be assumed to be her flat, just as I thought a glimpse of her actual life might slip from its hiding place behind the door. My body shivered close to the edge of the seat, I looked for clues to her life, and suddenly the camera cut to the swollen paunch of a man waiting patiently in the snow for his bus to arrive. I threw a pillow at the screen. If I had a stone I would’ve thrown that too. I turned my computer off for a few moments, stood outside in the garden. I looked at sun, at one thousand colours of blue sky. I would have stayed there but, as if the programme had wrapped an invisible cable around my neck, I eventually drifted back inside to continue to the end.  

I have to plug her in every day.
Plug it in. Will you listen to yourself?
It’s what the doctor said I should call it.
And what if you don’t plug it in? What then?
She wilts. And don’t even think about convincing me to stop breastfeeding, because I can’t stand to see her wilt. I won’t do that, don’t ask me to do that. 
I’m worried about you. What if it makes you sick, what if it hurts you somehow?
She won’t hurt me.
You don’t know that. For all you know it could bite. Maybe there’s a needle. It could stick you with a needle and fill you with…I don’t know…with poison or something.
You’re being grotesque.
I’m just saying there’s a lot we don’t understand here, you have to remember that.
You don’t understand. She came from our bodies. There isn’t anything that would hurt us, there aren’t secrets. She needs to be plugged in and then she rests.
You can feed it from a bottle, what’s wrong with that?
We tried, remember? She spat it up.
Well what did the doctor say about the keys? I’ve tried to type on them, I’ve tried again and again, but nothing happens. I’ve typed out whole paragraphs but nothing comes up on the screen.
Do you know many babies that can speak after two weeks? She has to learn. She’ll learn from us. 

Janet Malory from The New Yorker, who in her already famous interview with Jim Froydon ended her questioning with a swift left-hook to the show-runner’s jaw, has said that Lines offers an antidote. An antidote to modern life? To a sickness? What exactly it offers an antidote to has been picked apart and argued by nearly every American with access to a keyboard and, if you haven’t already done so, after tonight’s premiere you’ll be able to join that debate. What is clear is that there is a cure somewhere in this programme. After getting through the second episode, after coming to terms with the fact that I was never going to see the interior lives of these characters, I felt a definite weight lift from my shoulders. I felt as if I was floating up to the ceiling.      

The operating system isn’t one I know. I tried to enter the console commands that I found online for all the versions of Windows. I called Apple. I booked a slot in the genius-bar. They were useless. No help at all. I asked a friend who knew Linux but he didn’t know where to start. Whatever the case, there’s definitely an input now, there are keys and ports and...
Are you worried about whether you wife cheated on you?
What? No.
Maybe she got bored one of the weekends you were away and well…
Well it doesn’t exactly look like you, does it?
Don’t say that. I’m in no mind-set to hear that.
There’ve been some developments. She’s grown. She’s the size of a table and she’s lost a lot of weight, she’s flatter than she’s ever been. Her keys work now. I’ve registered my details. God knows how I managed it but I’ve registered them on her screen. The doctor said we should call it a screen. Still seems strange.
Wait. It wanted your details?
There isn’t a normal keyboard, I wasn’t sure what I was doing...
Is it fine just to put your details in like that? Did you put your wife’s details in as well?
Of course I did. That was the first thing I did. What child doesn’t know the name of its mother?
And bank details?
It’s not a scam. The bank details were just one of the sections. I put in my shoe size, eye colour, favourite film. There were pages of things I put in. Every time I wrote one thing it asked me to write another.

For a specific example of Froydon’s technique, I want to talk about a moment in the first episode which has lingered in my thoughts. Somewhere near the middle of the hour run-time there is a short sequence where a woman rides in an ambulance. I took her to be roughly in her thirties. We do not see much of her. There are glimpses of her arms, her hands. Her body is covered with a blanket.  Mostly we focus on her face. There are no windows in the ambulance. There are no sights outside to look at. There is a man sat beside the woman, a paramedic. The woman seems to be a patient, a victim, for some reason needing to be rushed to casualty. She is pale, sweating. The make-up around her eyes has slightly run. On the other side of the woman, his hand resting on her shoulder, is another man. Perhaps this man is her husband, or lover. Perhaps he is her brother. We never see more than his hand but the tightness of the grip is noticeable. The noise of the siren is loud. The woman shakes, her eyes focus on something in the distance. It is a moment of high drama or, perhaps more specifically, it is a moment teetering at the threshold of high drama, but after about a minute, once they have arrived at the hospital and the doors open, once the reasons and consequences for this woman to be in the ambulance are about to be exposed, we are unceremoniously taken away.

Someone is knocking at the door.
Go back to sleep.
Someone is there. I heard it. What if they come to take her?
No-one is coming.
I wrote in her today. I wrote some horrible things in her.
You know the doctor said we shouldn’t do that anymore. Not until they’re sure where it all goes.
I tried my hardest to get through them all but my hands felt so tired. What if they come to take her away? After the things I’ve said to her. After the things I wrote.

Yet we do see the woman from the ambulance again, later in the same episode. There are no signs of an accident. She is sat alone in a back of a taxi and she reads the newspaper. There is a look of concentration on her face but not to an uncomfortable level. What story she is reading in the newspaper we cannot see. The lines of her brow furrow and the corners of her mouth tighten. There is no hint of fear. Her face is immaculate. There are no tears in her eyes. No smudged make-up. She wears an elegant blue dress, as if she is returning from a party, and yet daylight streams in through the windows. Perhaps she is going to work. There is no sign of the man who so tightly gripped her shoulder, there is no hint of whatever illness she may have suffered from. Whatever problem caused the ambulance to take her to the hospital has been resolved without our knowledge. Froydon doesn’t give us the answers. He doesn’t let us know.

I…I wrote in her for hours. I sat there and I answered all of the questions she had. I let my hands touch her ridges, her soft keys. I felt the body which we both made. And…and there’s so much love behind her screen, I know it’s there. If I could open her up and see it.
We both know it’s there.
If I could only hear her speak back I’d be sure of it. We’ve given her so much of us. Do you understand me?

I wanted to know what happened. I wanted to know what went on when the characters reached their destinations; these places they have no clear reason to reach. But their thoughts were inaccessible to me. If there was a reason for the characters to go to the office or to go to the bar, a reason to ride to the hospital or to get a taxi home, then it is given offstage, away from the camera. No matter how hard I pleaded at my screen there was no definite reason for the characters to travel from A to B. Lines forced me to accept that. It forces us to accept that. What happens before and after these moments is not for us to be certain of.

She’s crying.
No-one is crying.
She’s humming through the wall. Can’t you hear it? There’s a low hum. Listen. There. She’s crying. It’s all because of me.
What did you do?
After all the information we’ve given to her. All she wanted to know about us. We’ve been so honest. I felt so exposed…
My love, what did you do?
Her screen shines in the light. Her base is squat but the edges above are so sharp that I’m worried I’ll cut myself. Her mouth opens and closes, waiting for milk. She’s so hungry. Her heart beats through the casing and when I place my fingers on her keys I feel it surge beneath. She’s so hungry. It wears me out. She needed more of me… The sight of that mouth…I couldn’t look at it any longer. A tissue, cotton, a towel. I pushed my fingers until her mouth couldn’t close.

I was locked out. I accepted that.
And yet when I fell asleep that night, when I closed my eyes and lay in the dark the woman was there in my dreams. The taxi I’d seen before had taken her to my home and when she arrived she’d climbed the stairs, entered my room. In the dim light of the evening she’d undressed, unzipping the outfit she wore to let it slip down the skin of her shoulders.
I watched it fall past her hips, down her legs and onto the floor. She lay in my bed and she reached out for me to join her.

Sleep, my love. Stay with me. Close your eyes and try to dream.
I’m trying.
Rest your head.
I’m trying. I’m trying but someone is knocking at the door.
You’re hearing things.
Someone is knocking at the door.

It’s going to be talked about. It will make Froydon a household name. Because by the end of the programme you will feel drained, as if you have spilled part of yourself onto the screen. You will feel drained and yet you will feel lighter.