A HYPOTHETICAL CONVERSATION BETWEEN AHMET ZAPPA (PRODUCER, WRITER, SON OF FRANK) AND HIS AGENT:
Ahmet Zappa: Man, this whole literature thing’s just not going away, huh? We should get in on that. Maybe make a few movies from it. Could we make something good from Downton Abbey?
His Agent: That’s not actually a piece of literature, it’s a TV show.
AZ: You’re kidding. Then why do they all talk like that?
HA: Because they’re English? And also, it’s the past.
AZ: YES! And people love it! We’re onto something here. We need a piece of literature from the English past. Stonehenge?
HA: It’s really more a monument than a piece of literature.
AZ: Oh. How about Oliver Twist? Has anyone ever filmed that? Is it out of copyright? Answer the second question first.
HA: Several times, actually. The definitive adaptation is probably the David Lean version from 1948.
AZ: Sounds old. Nobody’ll remember it, right? They’re all probably dead by now. Everyone else’ll think we’re being bold and innovative by picking this little, forgotten book.
AZ: OK, so…
HA: And an animated Disney version soundtracked by Billy Joel and Bette Midler stuffed full of anthropomorphised animals. And, weirdly, an animated TV show stuffed full of different anthropomorphised animals.
AZ: Yeah, but…
AZ: Alright, I get it. Any other Dickens we could use?
HA: Dombey and Son?
AZ: Nah, I hate banjo music. So I guess we forget the literature angle then. What else do people like?
HA: Crime stories?
AZ: Yeah, they do, don’t th- WAIT A SECOND! Bring back the literature angle! All those versions of Oliver Twist: they stop before the good stuff! What happens to Oliver and the Artful Dodger once they grow up? Maybe they… become rivals working on opposite sides of the law? It’s the future Dickens never lived to write!
HA: Actually, Dickens managed to complete Oliver Twist, it was The Mystery of Edwin Drood that –
HA: I’ll get Sony on the line.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.