Friday, November 30, 2007

stag night and our first date

Last night, Lisa and I went out on a date for the first time since George was born. We took George to Sam’s, got dressed up and left him while we went to Springer’s wine bar. It was only about 50 yards from sam’s house, but it was a meal out alone together. We had a great time not having to listen out for crying!

We were the only people in the restaurant which was great for us (although not so great for the restaurant!). it made for a nice romantic evening with little talk of babies and plenty of time for us.

I think Lisa’s feeling a bit like a baby feeding machine at the moment, but I’ve bought her a little gift that I hope will make her feel a little more feminine… Hope she likes it.

My stag night

I promised some photos from my stag do – I know, it’s a bit late (sorry James) given that the event was over a year ago now (august 06), but we’ve only just got round to printing out some pictures, so here they are.

It was a great day out involving clay pigeon shooting, hovercraft racing, and a bizarre rally car with two engines and no steering wheel! The idea was that there are two drivers and each controls one engine with a simple forward or back lever. You have to co-operate to drive it, and our group wasn’t the most co-ordinated bunch.

The event was run by a company in Guildford – can’t remember their name right now, but with 10 people, it worked out at £100 each – well worth while! Afterwards we went for a curry and a small drink.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

wedding photos - at last -

Got sent a great picture today. this was apparently sold in a supermarket until someone noticed:

George is looking better. Over the last couple of days he seems to have put on weight – although he’s been crying all day today – and I hope he stops because we’re leaving him with Sam tonight while the two of us go out on a date! - our first since the baby was born.
This is him finally settling this afternoon:

George seems at his happiest in the morning just after he’s been fed and at night when he has his bath.

Wedding photos- finaly

Since our wedding photographer disappeared to South Africa without giving us our photos (as of 21/4/08 we've now got the photos - so I've edited this entry to remove his name - his photography was very good, and I've no wish to damage his reputation - I think it was an honest mistake) - we’ve had to put together some photos from our friends and family’s cameras to replace our missing official photos.

It’s now over a year since the wedding and we’ve finally got round to getting a set printed up for our album and for putting around the house. Here are a few:

We also got some shots of George done and some from my stag night – which I’ll put up tomorrow!

Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman

I was out shooting video for the documentary on tuesday and there was a premiere on in London for "the golden compass" I hung around and got some video clips I can hopefully sell as stock footage. among the celebs were Nicole Kidman (looking stunning), Daniel Craig and Hugh grant -as well as several finalists from the X-factor - none of whom I recognised.

you can see the clip on my other blog:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lisa brought George back on Friday. I notice instantly how thin and gaunt he looks. This medication is a diaretic so he’s loosing fluid quite quickly and we’ve been told to expect a small drop in weight in the first week. It’s not good to see though. Having been told that he has fluid on his lungs we’re trying not to be paranoid about his breathing, but I find myself listening to him constantly.

Saturday we go into Peckham – and come across two of my least favourite musical types in an unholy combination: a busker is playing Bryan Adams on a set of panpipes! Nasty.

We end up having lunch in a local Wetherspoons where they’re doing a promotion giving away free pints. This has the opposite of the desired effect – attracting only the people who would normally be in there on a Saturday morning but making them more obnoxious than they would otherwise be thus driving away any new clientele. Lisa gets chatted up at the bar (and this is before she even starts breastfeeding!).

However, Peckam wethersppons isn’t all bad – one nice gent helps us up the steps with the pram and another comes over to meet George. A plaque on the wall (wetherspoons like to give their pubs a sense of history – whilst at the same time irradicating anything that gave them character) describes a time before gang warfare became Peckham’s most well known export.
Peckham is a great place to buy veg and there’s a lot of fish shops – so we managed to get some huge tiger prawns.

Recipe: rich, spicy prawns
4 very large raw tiger prawns - you can use king prawns but use more of them. Take the heads off- but don’t peel them (I only took the heads off so I could make a stock for another dish with them.

In a small pan, heat about a table spoon of oil, add 4 tablespoons of soy sauce and 4 of balsamic vinager. Add a pinch of dried chilli seeds and some salt and boil until the mixture reduces to a thick, sticky paste. Add the prawns and fry, coating in the mixture until they turn pink.

The result is a very rich, strong sauce. You can peel the prawns if you want to (although I usually eat them with the skins). And you can dip the prawns to give them as much or as little of the powerful sauce as you like.

Lisa’s parents came back from Thanksgiving in the states today, and stayed for lunch before heading off to Worthing. Lisa took George to the doctors to be weighed and he hasn’t gained or lost any weight. That’s good I guess, but the real test will be next Monday.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Went out with Raoul last night. It was a good night – and we ate at the best Belgian restaurant I’ve been to (somewhere near South Ken, though I got kind of lost, so I’m not sure where.) the mussels were great.

The life of a scientist is a difficult one. Most scientists I know get paid poorly, recognized infrequently and spend a lot of time away from their families. However, it’s good to hear from someone who consciously puts a passion for their work ahead of money and encourages young people to do the same.

It struck me that there’s a Victorian notion that financial independence gives you the freedom to explore your cultural/philanthropic/intellectual side and that the pursuit of money isn’t the important thing – it’s that exploration that’s central. Nowadays most of us – even though we rarely see it – have that freedom - we’re not struggling just to be fed and clothed. But society has come to see money as the end, whereas we should be fostering the older view – that it’s the exploration that’s the end and that money isn’t a strong enough goal on its own.

Lisa and George get back from Worthing today.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Lisa and George are away in Worthing until Friday. The house is empty without them, although it’s good to sleep through the night.

With the house empty, it becomes obvious that it’s a complete mess. I make a mental note to try to clear up, but probably won’t do it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

George is taking the medicine – and the formula feed we’ve been advised to give him to help him gain weight.

Lisa had him weighed at the doctor’s today and he’s 2.7kg – barely more than when he was born. If he doesn’t gain weight in the next couple of weeks, then the open heart surgery we fear will look more likely.

Then, this morning, George smiled for the first time. Suddenly everything is worthwhile…. Here’s a video snippet!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

George’s Birth

The actual operation was brief and well managed. Lisa was conscious throughout – within a few minutes the baby was out. I got to watch as they pulled him out. The anesthetist said “know you know you’ve got a boy” but all I saw was blood, entrails and a curled up dead looking thing… I didn’t have time to register what I was looking at.

Seconds later, George was lying on Lisa’s chest and the surgeon was shoving all the bits back into the incision and sewing her up.

It seemed like only a few minutes (about 5:30am) and we were sitting in the recovery room drinking champagne and eating chocolates in celebration. It was only later that we were told Lisa wasn’t allowed to eat… not that anyone told us when she was allowed to, so as far as we know she still isn’t 4 weeks later.

A couple of days later, with Lisa still in hospital, George wasn’t feeding properly. The hospital has a policy of promoting breast feeding – and they were doing just that. However, try as they might, they couldn’t get George to feed. They checked his blood glucose levels and everything seemed fine, but he was becoming dehydrated.. by the end of the day, I was trying to get drops of water into his mouth on my finger.

Eventually one of the midwives (a trainee) finally suggested formula milk. George drank very well, and she said it would be best to feed him with another dose later that night – a little sanity

When it came time to feed, about 2 am, Lisa called the midwife in, but the trainee had gone off duty and been replaced. The other midwife was very sniffy about feeding George and basically told Lisa she’d come back in a couple of hours and she should try breastfeeding again

The reason I mention this is that it’s all very fine to have a policy that breast milk is best. However, it’s not acceptable to place this dogma as being more important than the health of the child. This insistence against the wellbeing of the child when the child is clearly dehydrated is unacceptable.

So much of our care was good – where intervention was needed, it was there and done expertly. However, I can’t help thinking that somehow the sophisticated complexities of medicine have somehow become disconnected with the routine everyday work and staff. So that while the doctors, surgeons and experts performed perfectly, the midwives mostly appeared to be ticking boxes rather than anything else and basic needs such as being told what we needed to do and what was going on was sorely lacking. In addition the midwives seemed to be left overstretched and understaffed and following procedures even when they were inappropriate just to get the job done.

Anyway, we were eventually discharged on the Saturday, but not before the doctors had checked George’s heart and found he had a hole in his heart and a heart murmur.

They gave the impression lots of babies had holes in their hearts which generally closed up very soon. However, they told us to book an appointment with St Thomas’ hospital.

That appointment was today.

It turns out that it’s a bit more serious than we thought… George hasn’t gained any weight since he was born. The hole hasn’t closed up and his lungs are filling with fluid. We now need to put George on medication. If that doesn’t work, there will be a stay in hospital and more medication. If that fails, it’s open heart surgery – on a 12 week old baby.

We left despondent. I really hope the medication works.

Monday, November 19, 2007

NTC group
We had a meeting with our NTC (national childcare trust) group on saturday – everyone now had their babies and we all went through our experiences of birth. Everyone had bad stories (apart from one who went partially private and one, Hailley who had her baby in 3 hours flat!).

I suppose I should go through George’s birth…

Well, he was 2 weeks late, for a start and so – apparently – he had to be induced. I wonder, with hindsight, whether that was really necessary. Perhaps there’s more fluctuation in the natural gestation period than is accepted by the medical profession. I was late myself, Lisa was late. All her sisters were late. All her sister’s children were late… I think our families just take a little longer to mature – but I didn’t think that strongly enough to go against medical advice… even if medical advice was just ticking boxes based on the average…

Anyway, the first attempt to induce failed. The second and third got things very slowly started. However, because she was being induced, Lisa was tied to a monitoring machine, so she couldn’t move around – which of course slowed things down even more.

Each time the machine was attached, we were told it was to be for 20 minutes and each time we were abandoned for an hour! The contractions got gradually worse. Lisa wanted a water-birth, but because she was being induced we were told she couldn’t have one.

The doctors appeared on their rounds at about 7pm and told us we could wait a couple of hours to see if anything happened, or we could go for a drip to get things going more strongly. They broke Lisa’s waters for her, which because she wasn’t ready to give birth was very painful. We opted for the drip.

Two hours later it hadn’t appeared.

Meanwhile a woman had wandered in, looked at the machines and wandered out again without introducing herself. As the hours wore on and she was the only person to occasionally put her head around the door, it became obvious she was our midwife.

She was in a foul mood because they were short staffed and she was covering triage (which was on a different floor) so she kept disappearing and we had no idea if or when she would return.

Eventually I went out and insisted that we were given a Propper labour room (we were in a shared suite. We were told we had a room, but nobody took us there. I complained again and we were taken to our room. Nobody showed us where the gas and air (Lisa’s only pain relief) were until I complained for a third time and the gas and air was set up for us.

I also found the doctors and asked about the drip. They said they’d proscribed it 2 hours ago and were amazed the midwife hadn’t prepared it for us.

Eventually, the midwife appeared and Lisa was immediately put back on the monitor machine so she couldn’t move about and things did not progress. the drip turned up, but before she connected it, the midwife noticed that George’s heartbeat was slowing every time Lisa had a contraction. This worried her and she called the doctors who did a very painful examination, and decided to check again in a few hours.

The midwife read chat magazine.

Eventually she decided things were not getting any better (and credit to her, she did take some degree of control making sure the doctors actually came in). finally the doctors came back and did the test again (which involved taking blood from George’s head – very painful for Lisa).

Finally at about 5 am after 7 hours of labour, they finally decided it would be best if we went for a cesarean. This was our least favourite option (we were hoping for a water-birth) , but by this time Lisa was reaching the end of her endurance – she’d been unable to move from the bed for 7 hours (everyone says being able to move about during labour is very important) and she was ready to go for an epidural…

However, the cesarean was the better option and we took it.

More tomorrow!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Last night, George was grouchy all night. Got just a couple of hours of sleep. He was resless during the day apparently too, although I was out filming. I wonder whether this is a trend (he’s been doing it for 3 days straight now). I thought we had a good sleeper… It may just have been that I couldn’t take him to the spare room because Lisa’s parents were staying.

Anyway, now’s probably not the time to re-examine our techniques. When you’re tired is the worst time to start arguing with yourself.

Here he is this morning:

supposed to have registered his birth this morning in Brixton, but we missed our appointment and now have been told we can do it in Peckam (much easier – why weren’t we told this before?).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

George woke us up, crying at 3:30 – he sometimes has a feed at this time, but last night, he refused to go back to sleep. I took him into the spare room so that Lisa could get back to sleep.

George fell asleep quite quickly lying on top of me. I put him beside me and slept a little. When I woke, he was lying next to me, on his front – two things very much against the new baby rulebook… you should never sleep with a baby in your bed and never let him lie on his front.

But then, you can’t do everything all the time…

I really feel a connection to george – almost as though he has a kind of relationship with me already – even though I don’t think at under 3 weeks old, he even has an understanding that there are other people in the world (or even for that matter that he himself is a separate being).

He’s beginning to look actually at things – including people, and although there’s not much of the flicking eye movements that we all use to judge the world, there’s definitely a hint there that something’s going on inside his mind…

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sam, my sister in law popped over last night for tea. Thought I’d do a risotto because it’s easy and you can make it out of pretty much whatever you had in. This one was driven by the fact I had half a squash in the fridge, but I ended up buying some extras to make it work…
Half a butternut squash (although it would work well with any pumpkin, sweet potato, or even Swede)

For 3 people:

1 onion
3 fillets of salmon
pinch of saffron
stock (I used a prawn stock cube, but any stock would be fine)
Arborio rice (the only rice that works for risotto – although I have used pudding rice successfully in the past)
French beans
1 clove of garlic
balsamic vinegar
a little chili

add the saffron and a little chili to the stock ( it’s important not to overdo it on the chili as the saffron and squash are very subtle flavours and easily overpowered). Chop the onion and cook in a large pan with some olive oil until transparent. Add the uncooked rice and stir to coat the rice in oil. Start to add the stock bit by bit, stirring it into the rice. Add the squash (chopped very small) and continue to stir, adding more stock if you need to until everything is cooked. The texture should be a little like porridge. Add a little balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.

Meanwhile, just cook the beans (I just put them in the microwave for 2 minutes with a little water) and stir in finely chopped garlic and butter.

Cook the salmon skin side down on a very hot griddle. Don’t move them around, just let them cook until the skin becomes crispy and they move easily, then turn them over and cook on the other side until they’re just cooked (I left mine slightly under-cooked as they were very fresh. Overcooked salmon is awful). A lot of people say there’s a big difference between farmed salmon and wild salmon. Personally I think there’s a bigger difference between salmon bought fresh that day and salmon that’s been sitting in the fridge for a couple of days.
I try to buy farmed fish if I can – it’s more sustainable.

Finally, put the risotto in a bowl, top with the beans and then the salmon. Finally add a sprinkle of olive oil. The sweet, subtle flavours and the soft textures work really well together.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Drove down to Brighton –it’s only a 2 hour drive, but that’s the longest drive I’ve ever done – in the new car (never driven an automatic before). Pouring with rain. George screams all the way. He obviously likes cars as much as I do. It gets dark. The weather gets worse. Suddenly the driver-side windscreen wiper breaks. I can’t see anything.

We pull in and fail to fix it. Lisa takes over the driving despite not being supposed to drive so soon after the cesarian… however, she’s much more experienced than me and we can’t fix the wiper, so we reckon it’s best.

We have dinner in the hotel restaurant and do manage to keep George quiet while we eat. The staff coo over him – a taster of what will happen tomorrow!

The conference

Lisa’s attending an Occupational Therapist housing conference. Officially she’s off work until April, but I think it’s good for her to have a day of something other than the baby, so I’m looking after George.

We go down to the foyer in the morning and George is descended on by the Occupational therapists who are waiting to sign in… the sight of a two week old baby turns them to mush.

The deputy chairwoman suggests that I take the AGM so she can spend some more time cuddling George.

I resolve to take him out for a walk before the other 150 OTs appear.

I spend the morning walking around Brighton listening to a podcast on robots… that’s not totally random. I’m adding to my list of projects by planning to make a documentary (or more likely a three part series) on the state of robotics and artificial intelligence. It’s a subject that fascinates me and there’s so much going on with implications that most people aren’t even aware of.

My current idea is to make 3 50 minute episodes about robot bodies, robot intelligence and the connections between robots and humans. Should be fun, but Going to Gliese is the priority one right now.

One of the podcasts is about a competition for robot cars held last year – teams managed to convert a car to drive an 130km desert course entirely on its own.

Apparently this year’s task is to drive a course in an urban area.
This will be great for the documentary and would have been very useful last night…

Sir Paul Condon seems to be hanging on as the head of the metropolitan Police in London. This amazes me after his force has been found guilty of allowing a guy to be shot six times by officers who thought he was a terrorist and further that the head of the force has been criticized for deliberately obstructing the enquiry.

This is gross incompetence followed by high level corruption and yet he’s still in place.
I think the problem may be that the force was convicted using health and safety legislation and the media has so ridiculed and demonized health and safety as the ultimate in petty rulemaking over the past few years that now when a breach leads to somebody’s death, the ruling isn’t taken as a serious one.

However, this wasn’t an accident – it was a series of mistakes which were either the fault of individual officers or of the system underwhich they were operating.
Today, nothing seems to have materially changed which would avoid this happening again.


driving again – down to my parents to introduce George to my brother and grandmother. I’m getting much more comfortable with the car and with driving long distances. Automatics are great – what with that and the GPS, I hardly even need to be here. George is getting used to the car too and sleeps most of the way there and back.
Andrew and Grace meet George – it’s lovely. They’re both delighted although Andrew isn’t sure about holding him. He’s very careful.
Ok, it's clear this blog isn't working. it's too unfocussed and sprawling.

Or perhaps I'm just doing too much.

anyway, I'm splitting this blog (initially) into 3: - for my filmmaking work - for my artwork and writing

and this one for everything else.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

woke up this morning at 5:30 to Lisa feeding George - he's slept all the way through from 11:30 to 5:30 and that can't be bad, but now he's ready for a feed. instead of putting him back in his moses basket by the bed afterwards, we let him fall asleep on my chest. He looks so contented.

I look at Lisa beside me and George lying on me - both asleep. I am so lucky.

I visit the Oxfam site and pledge a monthly donation. something I've been meaning to do for a long time. One of their questions is "what prompted you to donate" - there are a list of reasons. none of which are "because my family make me feel so lucky"...

Magazine work
Having had a couple of weeks off for George's birth, I'm back in the office looking for writing work. As a freelancer, you get used to the rhythms of the business.

Got a call yesterday from Tom at Computer Arts saying could I do a short review of a 3d package (Cinema 4d) - also suggested Premiere Elments because these short reviews are half-pagers so the editor needs 2 to fill a page. also because I've already got Premiere Elements because of yesterday's Guardian article.

Now, because everyone on the magazines wants time off at Christmas, monthly mags always end up doing two issues in the space of one just before, and this means double the workload for everyone - especially the freelancers who end up with extra work because everyone in the office is too busy running round like headless chickens to write any of the issue in-house.

Add to this the fact that just before Christmas, all the software manufacturers go into overdrive trying to launch new versions of anything anyone might buy as a present, so there's lots more out there to cover.

Tom's last deadline is the 24th of December (nasty) and he's got another before then too, so he wants to commission everything in the next week....

I also write the software reviews for ImagineFX and they've got the same problem. it looks like they've only got one review for me to do this month, but that has the same deadline (next friday) as the work I've taken on from Tom.

I suspect that the only reason Digital Video magazine haven't called me with the same problem is that they're so tight on their previous issue that nobody's had time to think about the looming Christmas deadlines yet...

Rhythms of the business.

Meanwhile I'm going to try to do Toms two reviews today - before going off to Brighton this afternoon where Lisa is attending an Occupational Therapy conference tomorrow and I'm looking after George who will no doubt be screaming all day because he's not getting fed...

it turns out that the British Interplanetary Society (a name which sounds like it's from an HG Wells novel - can't wait to meet them) are organising a symposium on the science of faster than light travel for next week.

This means there will be a lot of experts from around the world there - all of them potentially great interviewees for my documentary "going to gliese". I've written to the organiser and the society who both seem happy for me to come along and film. In return, I've offered to video the event and turn it into a dvd for their archives or their website.

Offering favours like this is a great way to get co-operation for your film project. They're getting something out of it, so they're happy to be involved. it'll take me some time to do, but it'll keep everyone happy.

I'll let you know how I get on in hyperspace next Thursday....

News from my previous documentary, Shark Story (on prehistoric sharks): I approached CurrentTV - a tv channel set up by Al Gore to 'democratise TV' - the idea being that you submit short (up to 10 minute) documentaries which, if they like, they pay for and transmit.

I met someone from the channel and sent them my doc which they thought would be great edited down to 10 minutes. Just heard back from the channel's Head of Accusitions who turned it down.

That's a pity - but she did say I could contact her next week about other projects, so I don't think it's the quality of the programme she's concerned about. I'll have to find out a little more about what her criterior is because the channel seems like a useful outlet.

more on that next week...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

put the finishing touches to the guardian article and sent it off - it's a very basic tutorial - most of what I do is for people who already know the basics so this was refreshingly simple. It was quite a small piece to be able to fit everything into though - so I hope it works OK. It'll be published in January in a saturday pull out on video editing.

Expressions of shock from the section editor - delivering copy days or weeks AHEAD of a deadline is virtually unheard of in the publishing industry, but I'm trying to get ahead - knowing that George could throw my schedule out of the window at any moment.

Now starting to label up the anatomy poster - latin names for muscles, organs and bones which all have to be right and spelled correctly (not my strong point)... it's going to be a long dull job and if I get any wrong, I'm going to look pretty stupid because I just know nobody's going to check it before it's printed...

Last Sunday was the South London Food Club - a group of friends meet up every so often to have dinner originating from a different country. One member picks a country, and everyone else has to look up a recipe from that country, cook it and bring it along.

We've done Ethiopian and Russian in the past... This sunday was English. We had stuffed Ox heart, shepherds pie and steamed pudding. Mons and Abbey bought Chicken Tika Massala (which has recently been voted the UKs most popular dish)!

I made Stargazy pie - a traditional dish from Mousehole - a small village in Cornwall in which whole fish are cooked into a pie with their heads sticking out gazing at the stars. apparently there's a story that one particularly bad winter in this fishing village the storms were so bad that it was too dangerous to fish. One fisherman Tom Bawcock set out with his boat and managed to bring back enough fish to keep the village from starving.

Tom Bawcock's eve is 23rd of December and every year they celebrate by cooking the dish he made from his catch - Stargazy pie:

8 sardines - gutted and with the bones taken out, but whole with the heads and tails left on.
5 hard boiled eggs
a handful of parsley (my addition)
bacon (I left the bacon out as I don't eat red meat - it's possible that in the original recipe they only used bacon because salt was so hard to get hold of)
Pastry (I bought it ready made)

arrange the sardines around a large flan dish so the tails are in the middle and the heads are sticking up at the edges. put the rest of the ingredients around the fish. place the pastry on top, cutting holes for the heads (this is a little fiddly, and you end up patching the pie with stray bits of pastry). glaze with an egg and bake for about 20-30 minutes in a moderate oven.

It tastes great, although looking at the list of ingredients, I doubt the legend... if you've got pigs, fish, chickens eggs, flour and fat (for pastry) you're probably not on the verge of starvation...

Next South London Food Club: Mexican
I've heard it said that all Mexican food is the same - it's just that the bread is folded differently.
I've never really liked any of it, but I've got a feeling that's because UK Mexican resturants are all aimed at the "office party" crowd - i.e. easy to order, easy to eat and plenty of hard liquor.

- so I'm keeping my eye out for anything you won't get served in a UK mexican resturant.

two weeks old and he's managed to cry himself to sleep for the first time (that's a milestone, believe me). doesn't seem to be getting any less cute, and amazingly seems to sleep relatively regularly through the night. Most nights he wakes up once, but goes back to sleep quite quickly.

We thought we'd never let him sleep in our bed, but it does get him to drift off so we can put him in his basket. for the first time last night, he was put in his moses basked while awake and didn't scream - he just went to sleep. maybe he's learning. maybe he's trying to lull us into a false sence of security....

Why do baby cards all have "it's a boy" or "it's a girl" on the front? the parents they get sent to KNOW whether they've had a boy or a girl. They're the only people in the world who really don't need to be told and yet every single card tells them.... I mean, you don't get a birthday card with "you're a bloke" written on the front, do you?

Health visitor
the health visitor came round yesterday to check up on George and Lisa... her primary job seemed to be to find out whether Lisa had post natal depression. she spent an hour trying to focus on the most miserable parts of having a baby and trying to work out our anxiety levels...

health visitor: "so you were told at 22 weeks that the baby might have a genetic disorder - that must have been stressful - how did you feel?"

HV: "so you ended up having a cesarian when you wanted a water birth - that must have been stressfull - how did you feel?"

HV:"many mothers feel depressed after having a baby - how did you feel?"
Lisa: "I felt fine"
HV: "with so many other mothers feeling depressed that must have left you very isolated and alone. that must have been very stressfull. how did you feel?"

Ok- she didn't really say that - but it felt like she might.

I've decided to make a 50 minute documentary for television. I'm going to do it entirely off my own bat with no funding and no backing in the hope that I can offer it to a distributor who will sell it to TV channels around the world. I'll then get royalties on it.

Apparently, this is a dumb idea because you don't make nearly as much money out of selling stuff that's already been made as you'd make out of convincing a TV channel to fund you (apparently 2-3000 for a showing of a pre-made documentary vs 100,000 for making one!)

so why do it like this?

2 reasons:
1) I can make just whatever I like. I can follow my interests and I've got nobody telling me to sex it up, dumb it down or hire ant and dec to present it.
2) I don't have to spend 5 years (not an exaggeration) trying to convince people to fund my idea - I can have the idea today and start working on it tomorrow.

I've just finished my first documentary done this way (on the evolution of sharks) and I'm pleased with the results. Did it make money? I don't know - the distributor has taken it to an international TV market in Cannes and is trying to sell it now... stay tuned to find out whether I have any success.

meanwhile I've decided to make another....

"Going to Gliese" (
if you've ever wondered whether mankind will ever make the leap from this solar system to colonise planets in other star systems, Going to Gliese is the documentary for you! it'll outline the challenge and talk to leading experts in the various technologies needed to colonise the stars.

I'm going to make this programme using interviews and 3d animation - and I'm going to do it in High definition.

so nothing too ambitious, then...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Well, this is my 2nd day back at work after what I'm refusing to call paternity leave. My first child, George Francis Darkin was born on 24th Oct. More on that later I'm sure...

is it just me, or do other people start worrying about whether their email is working when they don't get an offer of a penis extension or a notification of winning the lottery every five minutes?

I should probably start by letting you know a couple of the projects I'm working on...

I've got several articles to write for magazines about video making, illustration and general computer creative stuff. I've also just been asked by the Guardian to do a tutorial on the new Premiere Elements and the software arrived in the post this morning... it looks pretty and seems to be a bit easier to use than the previous version. I hope they haven't cut it down too much.

I'm also a 3d illustrator and I'm just starting work on a Poster of human anatomy for gbeye ( I've looked at the vast majority of anatomy posters and they look pretty plain, so I'm going for a pop-art look in the hope of bringing some colour to the thing. it looks pretty good so far...

Aside from that, I've decided to make another 50 minute documentary. Probably that's the main reason for this blog - I've just finished my first - a natural history documentary on the evolution of sharks ( produced for virtually no money (about 1,000 pounds) and including lots of 3d animation as well as interviews and stock footage.... lots of fun and a big learning curve.

it's (more or less) out there and done now and I'm hoping that the distributors who have taken it on will be able to sell it to some TV companies.... I'll let you know if they do.

anyway - this new documentary is going to be about another mainstream, down-to-earth subject - Travel to other stars. there's an outline at
and I hope to bring you more about it as it develops

Anyway, the deadlines are pretty easy right now on all my projects, so i thought I'd start a blog... let's see where it goes