Pronto! Back from Italia, with the Weird, the Sweet and the Sublime…

View this post on Instagram

Ciao ragazzi! I'm back from Italia…

A post shared by James Clayton (@jamazingclayton) on

Allora, mi amici! It’s a-me! I’m a-back! (, though my name is not Mario there is a little part of me deep down inside that’s a chirpy 16-bit fake Italian. I’m going to keep on talking like this and pretending that I’m in an ultra-colourful videogame ’cause that’s how I roll and I’m still delirious, strung out on lack of sleep and affected by my latest Italian adventure trip.)

Erm, yeah, I’m back in the UK and hooked up to my laptop again and going about trying to get back in th’loop. I’ve hugged some relatives. I’ve drank a lot of ‘real’ English tea. I’ve done my washing. Phones ring but no one answers “pronto!” in response and the steering wheel is on the left side of the car.I’m definitely home, and that feels nice and eases my soul as I simultaneously go through the bittersweet motions of missing the spiritual home I’ve left behind and trying to get into British rhythms again.

As always, it’ll take some time, especially as I’m exhausted after a particularly challenging summer camp and a fair bit of travelling. If you want to hear anecdotes about some semi-impossible, strange and violent Italian kids – they attacked me, viciously attacked each other and built cult-like grave shrines decorated with sketches of, erm, Gandalf during breaktimes – I can share them, occasionally punctuated by gasps of “the horror… the horror…

Still, in spite of that – and that makes it sound pretty grim – I had an absolute blast and always do when I’m in Italy. I’ve had a wonderful summer in that very special place with very special people and I’m grateful for all the assorted experiences. Off the top of my head, some highlights from this time round would be getting to explore the centre of Milano again, visit the Emilia-Romagna countryside again, see old friends and my various extended families again and camp it up at English-language summer camp again. My favourite food, my favourite people and my favourite place – thank you very much and grazie mille Italia for giving me even more at the end of the summer.

Anyway, now I’m in the UK and once I’ve caught up on some sleep and relearned how to communicate in English properly – i.e. not putting Italian words into every sentence and speaking in hybrid Broken English/Shitaliano staccato – I’ll be writing a lot and creating some fresh nonsense. I’ll be sharing on the interwebs and the first thing that will be uploaded in coming days will be my lunchtime diary doodles from summer camp. From there, “boh?!” as we say in Italian (I can’t stop saying “boh“, “allora“, “pronto!” and “che schifo!” and I think I have a problem.) In conclusion, back to creative action in Blighty and it’s good to be back. I’m gonna make a brew and then brew up some creative action, pronto…

Advertisements

Hailing Hobbits and Hearing Tolkien Rock on the Radio…

Hum hum hum! (Those are seasonal Dwarf hums. Misty mountains cold? Forgotten gold? Aye?) What’s happening? I’ve been busy humming on, all hopped up on doing Christmassy things, in case you were wondering. Joining the Alternate Reality News bulletins on the ‘things I do daily’ list, the Magical Christmas Artefacts Advent Calendar has been opening up every day of December over on my sketchy doodle blog. One of my favourites so far is the Jolly Holly 3D FestSpecs…

I might stick these on and go and see The Hobbit in 3D…

Today, however, celebrating Christmas is taking back seat while I celebrate something else, for ’tis Hobbit Day. Happy Hobbit Day! The Desolation of Smaug is out in cinemas and I’ve been to see it and, oh by Gandalf the Grey’s undergarments, it’s glorious. In honour of the momentous occasion several Tolkientastic things are going down. Over on Den of Geek my weekly column is devoted to Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth movies -mainly focusing on their epic length and defending said ludicrous runtimes. These films need to be overlong affairs because the material is epic and because we need to immerse ourselves in larger-than-life blockbuster films every so often. It’s an event and we should savour the spectacle and enjoy spending as much time in the Tolkienverse (or any other fictional fantasy realm) as possible.

But wait there’s more, my Precious! Tonight I’ll be joining my old man (he’s a wizard who should know better) and Sean McGinty for the FNAT show on BBC Radio Lancashire. I’m going to rock out, ramble on nonsense and present an interview I did with Airbourne frontman Joel O’Keeffe. Mainly though – getting back to Middle Earth – I’m going to be leading the team through an hour of tracks all inspired by Tolkien’s works. There are some great prog rock tributes to The Lord of the Rings, I tell thee. I also hope we’ll be playing Flight of the Conchords’ “Frodo, Don’t Wear the Ring” and Leonard Nimoy’s “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”. It just wouldn’t be a ‘Best Songs About The Lord of the Rings’ playlist without those classics…

That will be on air at Midnight though the main show starts at 10pm and is subsequently available on the BBC iPlayer. In the meantime you can go and see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at most cinemas and I recommend it. This update blogpost needs an appropriate image so I’ll leave you with Gandalf wearing 3D specs (not as magical as my Holly Jolly 3D FestSpecs)…

He is not a conjurer of cheap tricks. I don’t think he likes the 48fps gimmick…