Saturday, 24 January 2009, two, three...

Breakfast this morning was two boiled eggs on toast with black pepper. Read the papers. A calm and measured start to the day. Then Andy disappears into my writing room.
'Do me a favour will you?' he yells in a tone of voice that suggests a mild ticking off. Oh, oh, I think. What have I done? Left my toe toaster heater on? Malfunctioned the new printer so it has used up an entire cartridge printing random pages from the internet? Grown a fascinating new fungus in my waste paper basket after inadvertently throwing an apple core in there two months ago? I brace myself.

Andy reappears holding the first three chapters of 'Nearly King Jimbo' in one hand and his mobile phone in the other. 'Read a few paragraphs into this,' he says. 'I want a voice recording to go with the opening sequence of animation I've already done. Ah, that's all right then!

I obliged with the reading, a la Jackanory style. Andy works out that in order to animate the entire first chapter (about 4 pages of A4) he will need to produce 7,500 drawings. No, honest, I kid you not. And as 'Nearly King Jimbo' runs to 22 chapters we are talking in the region of 165,000 drawings altogether for the whole book.

Andy turns apoplectic at this point and ends up on the kitchen floor in a dead faint. He is resusitated with a cup of proper coffee from his proper coffee making machine and we have a think about other ways of providing visuals for the project. Now a while ago, Andy and I made a short film using some toy ducks and stop frame on a camcorder. It didn't take us long and was highly entertaining. So I say 'How about we make plasticine models of each of the characters and do it in the style of Wallace and Gromit?' 'How many characters are there?' Andy asks. 'Well,' I say,' there's Nearly King Jimbo, the Queen, King Andy, Alice, Farmer Seed and his wife Annie, Mr Jobble and his dog Mick, Lord Endov-Terrace, Tractor the Horse, the angora goat named Prince Jimbo of Titbury von Streudelheim, the Archbishop, the Lord Chancellor, Mrs Bobbinflaxenfluff, Lady Farqueharrison-Snood (pronounced Fartybottom-Food), Miss Delilah Snibbins and Mr Frankly Revolting.'
'I didn't ask you to name them all,' says Andy, a hint of weariness in his voice.
'Seventeen,' I say.
'Right,' says Andy. 'Seventeen plasticine models.'
'Some of them are animals,' I say. 'We'd need to do some pigs and hens and cows, but they are non-speaking parts. Except for the two pigs who talk about pizza at the end of chapter 10. And we'd also have to do all the people who attend the gala award evening at the end. It's a crowd scene,' I add, unnecessarily.
'Would you care to revise your estimation for the number of models we'd have to make?' says Andy (he is very patient, especially as he's had a traumatic couple of days at work).
I have a think.
'About 300??'
Andy rewinds the recording of my reading and plays it back. I sound like Barbara Windsor and Janet Street-Porter's love child. Only considerably less intelligent.
'Im going upstairs to my office now,' says Andy. 'I may be gone some time.'

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