Monday 12 October 2009

The View From the Shoe: Roland Denning

I "met" Roland well over a year ago on the writers' site Youwriteon. Since then I have met him for real. Twice. He's not only the hugely talented author of The Beach Beneath the Pavement, but not a little creative with the camera. Which is one reason I wanted to speak to him. You must. must. must watch his films - oh, and read the book.

So, in his own words:

The Beach Beneath The Pavement, ‘a satirical novel of conspiracy and paranoia in London’s dark corners’ came out earlier this year under the auspices of Type Of Thing press, coincidentally the imprint of the author, Roland Denning. A brief and unsuccessful flurry of activity with a literary agent earlier this year impelled Roland to author a series of short animation films featuring a robot called Roland and his dealings with the world of publishing. Roland the Robot bears no relation to the character of Roland the author, so it was probably a poor choice of name. These films are, quite possibly, much better than the book.

Thank you for inviting me into the Year Zero for this interview, Dan. Also particularly nice that you sent a car for me. Been even better if you had paid the driver, but you can’t have everything.

Thank you so much for your time. So, Louboutin or Converse?
I’ve always favoured a Saint-Emilion if red, a Pouilly-Fuissé if white. Not much time for this New World stuff. Am I being too facetious? Sorry, interviews always make me nervous.

Why is there no one in the world who does it quite like you?
I wrote the formula down in my own hand writing. No one else can read it. Even I have trouble at times.
By the way, there doesn’t seem to be anybody else in the room. Apart from the camera. And the man with the gun. Where are you hiding, Dan?

What do you really, really love about it?
I suppose when I write something that makes people laugh. Actual, spontaneous hearty laughter. You can’t fake that, and you can’t deny it’s happened. That is, as long as it is meant to be funny. (If they do laugh, I always say it was. This has ruined several relationships).

A bit more time in the day, or a bit more money in the bank?
The older I get, the more aware I become that our lives are finite and incredibly short. It seems like only this morning you asked me to do this interview. Oh, it was. Sorry, to answer the question, of course the former. You can always steal money.
By the way, any chance of the bus fare back to Camden?

Imagine you “make it”. You wake up, and imagine the day ahead. Tell us about breakfast.
My breakfast has always been, as long as I can remember, one slice of toast with vintage Oxford marmalade, one slice of toast with Marmite. I don’t see why I should change that now I am rich and famous. Maybe it could be served by, or possibly on, beautiful naked young women.

What’s your Jimmy Choo? And what’s just cobblers?
i) A ripe Alphonso mango, some Thai grass, and Trout Mask Replica on a very good sound system.
ii) A Golden Delicious, warm lager and Trout Mask Replica on a broken Dansette. Which is how I heard it first. Some things have got better.

Tell us about the last time a fan made you feel 100 feet tall.
When I had a girlfriend who was only 3 inches high.

Independent and poor, or under contract and rich?
Is this an offer? I think if there’s a contract out on me, money isn’t going to help. Do you know something I don’t know?

Do you remember that bit on Play Away where Brian Cant stood behind people and did the actions whilst they spoke? If you could choose anyone to stand behind you and do the actions to your sales pitch, who would it be and why?
Do you remember in the Golden Voyage of Sinbad, where Sinbad fights the six-armed Kali idol? She would be good, although you might say that’s an unfair advantage.

Frocks or socks?
It would have to be frocks. Standing naked in just your socks you feel so stupid. As I do now. You never told me why I had to undress for this interview.
Can I go now? I don’t like the way the guy with the gun is looking at me.
Have I got the job?


  1. I met both these gents at Book Club Boutique last week. Diamond geezers, scholars and wits both. Good luck to both of you with your book guys.

  2. And the same back, sir. I was going to say "and we met you too" but that would be somewhat ersatz! Diamond geezer and good luck bits definitely apply, though! As does scholar and wit