Queen of the School Newspaper
It is the last Thursday in December. And that means that it’s Sleuth Thursday.
It is also the Season, and I hope all those who celebrate Christmas had a fabulous one, and are about to have a marvellous New Year!
Speaking of Christmas, here is a link to a Nick and Alan Christmas interview.
Also in the name of HOW UNSPEAKABLY MUCH I wish for people to meet my newwwwww characters, Unspoken excerpt and a giveaway of a pretty thing, as well as fiction ramblings, here.
So, I have a roommate who is a Museum Detective and who for the sake of her internet privacy I nicknamed the Durham Lass. I used to have another roommate, a stylish DJ lady I called Jennet Wilde. One day the Durham Lass came up from her family home in the blameless countryside full of rolling hills and sheep and suchlike, back to our townhouse of sin and shops.
DURHAM LASS: I brought up some box sets of a TV show I used to love when I was a kid. It’s called Press Gang, and it’s about a group of misfits who run a school newspaper-
JENNET WILDE: Uh, I don’t really want to watch a kids’ show from 1989.
SARAH: … I do…
DURHAM LASS: Their leader is this bossy girl called Lynda Day.
SARAH: … GIRL REPORTER…
DURHAM LASS: I used to really love the romance-
JENNET WILDE: We’re not interested, sweetie.
SARAH: … I am…
JENNET WILDE: Who’s for tea?
SARAH: Okay, we’re going to barricade ourselves in this room and watch the WHOLE THING!
JENNET WILDE: Guys? Guys, this door won’t open. Guys?
Some time later, I was totally mad about Press Gang. We used to watch it in the hour before Jennet Wilde got home from work.
The show: An ace reporter arrives in town to edit the local newspaper, and sets up a junior version of that newspaper to be produced by pupils from the local school. The Junior Gazette is to be edited by star pupil Lynda Day, though there are also delinquent students forced to work on it. Nobody ever cares about the ace reporter because the kids are much more interesting! There is a beautiful, blonde, brilliant graphic designer and a money manager entirely devoted to greed and evil!
But most importantly there is Lynda Day. What to say about Lynda Day?
“Because I’ve never been a 17 year old girl, it’s rather interesting to think like one, or rather to force yourself to consider the world from that perspective. And it actually started to make me angry. I’d never really thought about it before, but you know, when I’d consider the world from the viewpoint of this dynamic, highly intelligent, highly talented 17 year old girl, and think what’s going to happen to her, think about how much harder it’s going to be for her than it would be if she’d been a boy, it made me SO angry.” – Steven Moffat on writing Lynda Day in Press Gang.
Steven Moffat is pretty well known for creating the BBC Sherlock and writing for Doctor Who. Press Gang was actually his big break into show biz: his father, a school teacher, got chatting with some producers about his idea for a TV series about a school newspaper, and when the producers asked for a sample script he was like ‘My boy Steve will write it!’ So, Steven Moffat, a talented dude! Obviously a big nerd! I don’t think he’s ever written a character as good as Lynda Day again.
Ruthless, brilliant, frequently annoyed, prone to swearing like a sailor and hiccupping when asked to schmooze.
A lady with a little bit of a temper.
LYNDA: I’m not being unreasonable, I’m keeping my cool. All I want is simply for this person to be removed from the studio and shot dead.
A lady with a lot of self-confidence.
LYNDA: Got a problem, sir?
MR HOWARD: This exam started fifteen minutes ago!
LYNDA: Well, it was supposed to! Relax, you’re doing fine.
MR HOWARD: Why weren’t you here?
LYNDA: Oh come on, sir. I always finish half an hour early, and you said no sandwiches.
MR HOWARD: Go to your seat, Lynda.
LYNDA: I’m top every time, and this is the thanks I get!
She has a sweet, blond, inoffensive and mild-mannered Best Friend Forever called Kenny, who is tormented by having to do Lynda’s bidding, but also obviously cares about her and has fun with the madness she trails in her wake.
Kenny is not in the least, ever, at any time, secretly pining for Lynda’s love. He would clearly find Lynda’s love an appalling present that would give him a migraine. They’re just close, loyal, loving friends: the actor who played Kenny exiting the show was really the Beginning Of The End, because Kenny and Lynda’s relationship was part of the heart of the show.
KENNY: If I get killed doing this you’re gonna feel really guilty.
LYNDA: Why would I? You won’t be around to tell me to.
KENNY: Oh well I’m sorry if my problems are not providing enough entertainment for you!
LYNDA: Oh don’t be like that Kenny, they usually do.
SPIKE: I guess you’re looking for the bitch editor from hell, right?
KENNY: I never call her that, she likes it.
LYNDA: For what?
KENNY: I don’t know. Everything.
LYNDA: I’m not responsible for everything. I just make it look that way.
Lynda’s ambitious and competitive, and that’s not portrayed as a negative thing or always a positive thing: it was just a constant facet of her personality. (In later seasons it is seen as more of a negative, which is why I suggest just watching the first three seasons. Because Lynda never needs to be punished for being who she is. Lynda is EXCELLENT. But Later Seasons Not Being As Good, kind of the nature of television.)
JULIE: You’re late.
LYNDA: You’re fired. I win.
JULIE: Why don’t you just tell Spike you give in?
LYNDA: Because I’d rather die than let Spike win anything ever.
LYNDA: You know what he’s like, he’s so competitive.
SPIKE: Lynda, you’re the only person I know who eats dinner to win.
I love a lady in charge.
LYNDA: See where it says ruler? That’s who it belongs to!
LYNDA: I don’t do conversation. Anything I say comes out like an order. I say hello and people salute.
She also had just shocking dress sense. I mean it was the eighties so everyone did, but it was a plot point that Lynda’s was awful. You have to have talent to be considered a bad dresser in the eighties. (Trust me, I was alive then and I rolled my socks up the legs of my leggings. I was six but it’s no excuse.) It causes her devoted swain no end of distress.
SPIKE: Lynda, you’ve got the dress sense of a clothes line. I mean those cardigans, even I wouldn’t look good in those.
SPIKE: I like your dress.
LYNDA: What about the jacket?
SPIKE: I like the dress.
LYNDA: You think the jacket goes?
SPIKE: I hope it does.
Of course, Lynda has a roooooomance. Spike Thompson, American leather-jacket-wearing juvenile delinquent and perpetrator of an incident at the school dance which is too disgusting to ever spell out, is assigned to the Junior Gazette as punishment for his many crimes. He is devoted to the pursuit of total idleness, until he sees Lynda Day, is smitten on sight, and devotes himself to the cause of journalism as a knight would slay a dragon for his lady.
They’re both smart, though Spike is quite committed to hiding it. Furthermore, he’s the one who’s super concerned with physical appearance, he’s the one who cooks, he’s the one who’s easy in social situations, he’s the one who’s wistfully pining, and she’s the one not ready for romantic commitment.
SPIKE: Hey Frazz, Frazz. What’s with the negative attitude?
SPIKE: Get involved, man.
FRAZZ: Who is she?
FRAZZ: Which one is it?
SPIKE: What are you talking about?
FRAZZ: It’s Lynda Day, isn’t it? You always did like the bossy types.
SPIKE: I looked in the mirror this morning, I was looking so great, it just gave up.
LYNDA: You’re shaking.
SPIKE: What? Me? I’m steady as a rock. That’s just the world moving.
LYNDA: Spike, I think you’re getting the wrong idea about this kiss.
SPIKE: Ah, no no, absolutely not. This is just a goodnight kiss. A thank you kiss between friends, right? I understand.
LYNDA: I knew you were getting the wrong idea.
SPIKE: Do you love me Lynda?
LYNDA: Of course I do.
LYNDA: Of course I love you. But what good does that do either of us?
SPIKE: What do you mean, what good does it do either of us?
LYNDA: I don’t want this. I’m not ready for it. I just want to make a newspaper.
Plus, Lynda and Spike had BANTER. My most favourite of all the things.
SPIKE: You don’t happen to be jealous of a girl I’ve never even met, do you?
LYNDA: Of course I’m jealous, Spike. I wish I was the girl you’ve never even met.
SPIKE: I’m temporary acting assistant editor – is that a come on or not?
LYNDA: Spike, you weren’t exactly my first choice. I asked everyone I liked first.
SPIKE: That’s encouraging. Out of everyone you don’t like at least I’m your favourite.
LYNDA: For what it’s worth… the l-word.
SPIKE: I ‘l’ you too… We gotta get better at saying that, Lynda.
LYNDA: How about anagrams?
SPIKE: I vole you?
LYNDA: Me too.
Here is a thing about me! I love fan-made videos. I watch a ton of them. I think they are great! They’re kind of the essence of fan-created material for me–you take this source material, and this song, and you make something new! So I went on a noble youtube quest, and I found myself a Lynda Day tribute.
Suffice it to say, I watched all of Press Gang and loved it, and talked to the Durham Lass about it.
SARAH: And then Lynda took the chopstick and-
JENNET WILDE: Hi ladies.
SARAH AND THE DURHAM LASS: *conspicuous silence*
JENNET WILDE: … What were you talking about?
DURHAM LASS: Nothing.
SARAH: Hiring assassins to kill you! No, I mean, nothing. That’s better. Nothing.
A few months afterwards, my friends Mark and Donna (a writer and an actress) were getting married, and they sent me the password to their register for gifts.
It was ‘lyndaspike.’ I felt like I’d been given a password to a secret club for awesomeness.
So of course when I was writing Unspoken, I thought, self, you want to write about a bunch of teens getting into a Gothic adventure? This is how you write about a Crack Team pitching itself into adventure. And a lady who passionately wants to run a school newspaper will stop at nothing.