Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn

Professor Higgins opens the My Fair Lady Song, “I’ve Thrown A Custard in her Face” with a long string of Damns, which I am in a mood to repeat. I have a ten-ton deadline hanging over me suspended by a single human hair. If I don’t stay and stare at my screen all day every day until I have bled out a screenplay I will have my nipples torn from me like medals from the tunic of a disgraced officer and Shame will know me for her own.

Douglas Adams liked deadlines: “I love the loud whooshing noise they make as they go past,” he said. My deadline has whooshed past four times and this is now IT. I deliver or ELSE.

I remember putting the final full stop to the last essay of my final exam at university and thinking to myself, “There! That’s that. I shall never have that awful exam feeling ever again.”


How was I to know that not only would I have it always but that it would seem to get progressively worse? I’m not complaining, I just … oh wait, it seems I am complaining. Well, I don’t mean to. I mean merely to observe. Most of us in the world of work have these horrors looming over us. Reports to be written. Shelves to be stacked. Orders to be completed. Calls to be made. Duties to be done. Many of us wake in the mornings with a deep terrible feeling of foreboding inside us: hot lead seems to leak into our stomachs as we contemplate the day. When I’m in acting or presenter or comic prancer mode it isn’t so bad – but writing. Writing is bloody.

So you must expect a few days of radio silence from me on Twitter and here on my site as I descend into my particular hell.

See you the other side. I hope. Enjoy your bank holiday weekends and try not to think about work if you can help it.

Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn.

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113 comments on “Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn”

  1. Farrell Grayson says:

    Ah. Come-to-Jesus time. I am familiar. I’d offer sympathy, but it looks like you’ve got plenty already. I’d offer a swift kick in the tail, but I’m not certain that I could outrun you afterwards. I have no incentives to offer unless you’re fond of squirrels, which seem to be the only thing I have in abundance these days.

    Misery loves company, though, right? So you go write, and I’ll go clean the grout in my bathroom. That should be sufficiently distasteful.

  2. trullybrit says:

    Dearest Stephen, the sun is shining and all is right with the world…… isn’t it funny that the thing you excel at is giving you the most trouble. Knuckle down and let your imagination run free, you will triumph and think of the pleasure when you do. Oh the pain of creativity…… sending you some comforting cuddles of encouragement across the ether.

  3. Archy_sailor says:

    My dear Mr Fry, if you are in your own personal hell right now, I’m right there with you. Fourteen days until I have to hand in my masters thesis, and I’m having to drag it out of my head one tortured word at a time. To say that your blog was timely is putting it just a bit too simply. It’s comforting (in a rather sadistic way) to know that someone else is out there staring at a blank computer screen and cursing quietly under his breath. In solidarity, I think I shall change the way I start my day of writing. Instead of the usual despairing sigh as I take a sip of coffee and bury my head in my hands, I’ll just repeat a long string of Damns and try to ignore the puzzled looks of the other students in the room.

    Hmmm….maybe I should challenge you to a race and see which one of us finishes writing first?

  4. Gertrude Susanne says:

    Alles, alles Gute beim Schreiben! Es ist zweifelsohne knöchernste Knochenarbeit! No-one can begin to imagine how exacting writing is, especially when the finished product reads well. Thus, you will make it look particularly easy… :o)
    Hope you come out alright at the other end, dear Stephen. Take care. GS (medical writer who subscribes to your quote “Writing is bloody” [especially in the field of biosurgery/regenerative medicine ;o)] )

  5. cat_decibel says:

    Feeling your pain! Like the archy sailor, I have a masters thesis due. In 5 days. But hell, it’s only about 20 pages too short.

    Someone said: postponement is the deadliest form of denial. I agree and am kicking myself bloody…

    But we’ll sleep when we’re dead, right?

  6. gadgetgeekgirl says:

    Take care of yourself and see you on the flip side!

  7. funnelbc says:

    I registered (thus wasting more precious time) to say that I’m exactly the same boat. Good lord I hate being under the pump. It’s nice to see I’m not the only one who gets in these situations. Sort of cheered me up a bit. Sort of.

  8. Ghost Code says:


    Duties descend and holiday suspended
    Completed shame and bloody disgrace
    Horrors to be written
    Silence getting progressively worse

    Repeat deep foreboding
    Deliver orders and noise
    Contemplate hanging
    The final full stop.

  9. crystalgrl says:

    Dearest Mr Fry,
    As always, too harsh on yourself. You have such a natural gift in your writing, all will be fine. Sending you love and warmest hugs,

  10. Linda52 says:

    Think of all the wonderful things you have accomplished, the places you have visited, the people you have met, the food you have eaten and the joy you give all your followers. If that means you have to have your damn, damnn, damns to get achieve the aforementioned then quit your bitchin’ and get busy. Pretend you’re RKR, find a nice quiet spot you like to write and produce. You are my favorite genius, so have at it.
    But wait, you are probably too busy to read this, so…. I hope it wasn’t too painful this time.
    And I promise to stop asking about dongle. Hugs.

  11. Barbara D says:

    I’m so creative that I used to do a word count after every sentence.

  12. chumley says:

    Playing Horace Walpole to your Sam Johnson, your repitition of “Damn”, which seems incantatory, could perhaps be termed a “quintology”. Well, I do hope your quintological repitition has become a diminished note, a mere triptology by this time. Wishing you, in quintological anticipatory fashion, five cheers of hip hip horay for your screen play completion.

    Now I have to check the o.e.d to see if quintology has already been coined. . . . damn, damn, damn, damn, damn.

  13. lantaugirl says:

    So sad – we don’t get ‘bank holidays’ in Hong Kong….. Dammit. Just got my graphic design diploma 30 years to the day after my funny old fine arts degree – easy peasy lemon squeezy. I am just proud.

  14. Lavenza says:

    You’ll never guess. I also JUST registered to say: DAMNDANMDAMNDAMNDAAAAAAAAAAMN
    one week to go. and then … exams :(((((((
    But the 59 comments on “Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn” made me feel quiet happy. Good luck, stephen!

  15. ProfZarkov says:

    Why can’t a woman be more like a man?
    I could have tweeted all night . . .
    Chin up, knuckle down . .

  16. hesspartacus says:

    As school bully, deadline time was a breeze for me.

    I’d simply locate the nearest pimply swot, cuff him about the ear and lower him head first into the nearest lavatory until he pledged to complete my essay for me.

  17. Nele says:

    This is great! We’re procrastinators anonymous! My deadline’s tomorrow. And once I’ve handed this paper in, I have another due on the 4th of sept. which I haven’t even started yet… 15 pages on linguistic regional differences in humour in GB. It just keeps getting worse. And by the way, the quote I use instead of Higgins’ formidable damns is “It’s all a muddle!”. I don’t know why, but it helps. Whoever guesses where that one’s from gets a virtual banana peel with which the better to procrastinate.

  18. shadowflower says:

    Feeling your pain. Am in same creative pickle. Confident we both shall emerge victorious, gold tipped nipples intact. Sending you boatloads of encouragement, buckets full of creative inspiration and if that doesn’t help, I have a cage full of randy plot monkeys itching for a good tussle.

  19. newday says:

    While, as they get close, some deadlines can seem like monolithic slabs of granite waiting to crush and destroy you. You must not forget the excitement and sense of purpose they give you and your life. As you race towards these immovable events they impart the texture and challenge that gives meaning to your very existence. To take away those way stones is to flatten life’s landscape into a desolate plain devoid of interest, intrigue and relevance. For me I’m not certain which is worse a deadline approaching or no deadline to stalk.

  20. NurseShannon says:

    I am in nursing school to become a RN and I have to take a stupid speech class, which would make sense to me if I wanted to be a nursing educator, but I don’t…and I also have anxiety. I literally wanted to puke reading “I am the very model of a modern Major-General” last wk. ‘Tis torture I tell ya…torture!!!
    I guess we all carry our own burden…

  21. Jim Cricket says:

    and these nipples ?
    once removed i presume will fetch a fair penny on ebay

  22. Jim Cricket says:

    i like to imagine that at some level one becomes able to call ones own shots…
    is donald trump, for example put under pressure by some young tv executive upstart ?
    if he is, what hope is there for us mere mortals ?

    damn, now i really must get back to work Zzz

  23. Jim Cricket says:

    and the final item on todays auction….
    the “stephen fry niplets”….
    this particular pair is in excellent condition and will not be sold seperately…it would make a wonderful addition to any sophisticated residence its an amazing talking point and it certainly has the “wow factor”
    i’m going to start the bidding @

  24. Sair says:

    I remember with affection my father singing “I threw a custard in her face” around the house when I was a child, which always made me giggle. Gratifying that you use the same words.

    As a typist in a busy typing pool, deadlines are a daily occurrence. Documents needed for court at very short notice. They HAVE to be done on time.

    Deadlines are worrying and stressful. You will feel better when all is finished, however.

  25. kezza4kix says:

    see life as simple, overeducation can lead to too much to think about. but you are as dry as a chip and so funny be happy mr fry you make everyone else happy love kez xx

  26. DIY Sheep says:

    I was a bit worried. I check in with Twitter every so often and this time there was no post by Mr S. And I have to admit that my first thought was ‘he’s dead’. So to reassure myself you were not lying on your kitchen floor being nibbled by the cats I checked. Good to know you are just busy and not dead.

  27. IdeaCollector says:

    *watches yet another of her deadlines zoom by*

    Each time I watch a deadline pass I sink a bit deeping into depression. I do hope you get the piece churned out so that you can have one bit of writing off your mind. I’m sure it will be fantastic, in the way that only the writing panic can make a piece.

  28. shibumi says:

    As they say in Japan, Stephen, “Ganbatte kudasai,” which translates roughly into “Good luck/Go for it/Just do it/best wishes and kick some ass.” -TS

  29. I_written_books says:

    This is an easy one: Whilst cursing, get yourself a small Bodum Columbia presscoffee mug of polished chrome, 35 ouz or 2 cups. It is small enough to let you drink as much coffee as you like all day, fooling yourself with the modest quantity of each brewing. Interestingly, this is a peculiar similation of the writing process; one small sentence at the time. Not that YOU need any such advice! But then we all know it is coffe that writes, not people. Go get that mug. Put it on, sit down, drink slowly. Suddenly you are writing, not cursing.

    Excuze my angleish, Aim norwegian,

  30. Sophoife says:

    “I’ve Thrown A Custard in her Face” – not a song with which I’m familiar…

  31. Susan says:

    Ahh, that sinking tightening wrenching gradually consuming constriction of the gut… the overwhelming and inexplicable sudden interest in all things unrelated… trying to hide from the fear, the greatest fear, that of Failing To Deliver.

    Was it true that Victor Hugo had someone hide all his clothes so he couldn’t go out when he was supposed to be writing… Or would that set the QI alarms going I wonder to myself, while avoiding the things I should be doing.

    In absolute faith that you shall deliver! :-D

  32. I_written_books says:

    In that case: Tie yourself naked to the toilet of a moving train with nothing but a laptop at your fingertips. Something will come out of you …

  33. Aurora says:

    It seems impossible, but we are in the same situation,the only difference is that I didn’t wanted to finnd myself studing things I didn’t imagine,or things I never understood, like math,to start having heavy gym sessions,and all this to become an officer …ha! I studied theater …Lots of bitter laughts …Hope you feel right! See you soon!

  34. rasmaestro says:

    You should outsource some of your responsibilities to your immense fandom.
    Sort of like those letters we used to do as children, folding up paragraphs (except every last line) and passing them on, co-creating narratives.

  35. Luvs2laff says:

    As the queen of procrastination, I can totally empathize with your situation. I’m sure if in a relaxed state, and not all jittery about missing a deadline, you can do this, you can work magic! Try not to think about the deadline, and let your mind wander a bit, it will come to you.

  36. Ian the Duck says:

    Oh to hear Mr Fry complain so! I am an unpublished writer in the middle of editing the 830 pages of his book. Yet do I complain? Well, yes I Do; but Mr Fry gets paid to do such work! Oh what I would give for the pain of a deadline that once reached will elicit uncounted bits of paper enriched with the head of that old bird with the crown…. I yearn for the day when a publisher rings me to say: “Where is that manuscript you promised me? If I don’t get it soon I want the 300 grand advance back!” Do I have that luxury? No. All I have is my loving wife pestering me to finish because, in accordance with the theory of blind love, she is under the misapprehension that I have creative talent, and the ability to harness it in the production of cogent sentances that are spelt and grammatified correctly. So no more whining Mr Fry, or I shall withdraw my support for your beatification…

  37. hellopeter says:

    carry-on. i shall be forging your signature..

  38. Linda52 says:

    Sophoife: Joking, right? “I’ve grown accustomed to her face?” One of the great songs of Lerner and Loewe. I find it impossible to say the lyrics without the melody.
    Sair: I love your Dad’s lyrics. I shall be singing and smiling about them all day now…… and not getting my work done…. damn damn damn.

  39. pianomarc says:

    You’ll be reet lad, you have a big head FULL of words and you know you dont need to use ALL of them.

  40. EoinSheehy says:

    hhhmmm interesting taughts, I will be pondering those words for a long time to come.

    PS I would be Honoured if you were to follow me on twitter, My Username is: Eoinsheehy. Please

  41. preroll says:

    NOUN (1)
    1. something of little value

    I guess if you utter enough of them, they’ll add up.

  42. Whirlochre says:

    Deadlines are no fun, but thankfully the miracle of the internet is at hand.

    No idea what your screenplay is about, but here are some words you can cut & paste to SAVE TIME…

    the the the the the the

    it it it it it

    a a a a a a

    and some capitals for the above, just in case…

    T T T

    I I I

    A A A

    If everyone in Clubfry submits a just couple of words, I’m sure that between us we can make SF’s life so much easier.

  43. Lady in Red Bull says:

    I am the Queen of Putting Things Off. That deadline is looming but there’s all those other less important but essential jobs to be done like washing my nets or unblocking the shower plughole. I simply MUST do them first!

    Found this link on the net….made me chuckle, hopefully it’ll make you smile in a wry way.


  44. Kakareen says:

    A deadline can give a rude shock,
    when suffering acute writer’s block
    But there’s no need to fear!
    Must needs persevere!
    Or, brain your editor with a rock.

  45. v4ictori says:

    Ok Mr F, you can do it, oh yes. . . I suspect too that you would be miffed if somebody suggested you couldn’t. So, you could be dealing with the anxiety of finishing, but I imagine that you are experienced in finishing things, more likely perhaps, the anxiety of wanting to produce another jewel, another masterpiece, and not knowing if you will love it in the morning. . . as you surely know better than most mere mortals, your job is to “turn up at the page”. Worry about it between half past seven and eight in the evening only. The rest of the time you can get on with it, knowing that you have set aside time to worry about it. Remember, people want you to do it because they like the way that You think. . . So, go for it, one word at a time, one sentence, paragraph, one shining poignant scene at a time, whatever arrives in your mind for you to spread on the page like the finest apricot conserve on the freshest, fragrantly steaming and most sumptuous slice of home made bread. Very best of luck.

  46. The Network says:

    Dear Mr Fry

    My name is Christine and I work with an Organisation called The Network. We work in Barnet and are funded by Barnet Council and Mental Health Trust for people with Mental Health Issues.

    The reason I am trying to contact you is to invite you to our launch on the 8th October as the 10th October is the World Mental Health Day. We have changed the way we help people with mental health issues and are hoping that you will become our guest of honor on the day to publicise our new service.

    Our organisation is to help people in Barnet with mental health issues by promoting Social Inclusion – to support people to gain/ regain skills and confidence to participate in the community. Guiding people to support themselves i.e. Service User Lead Groups, this includes being a part of the service as well as society as a whole.

    We sincerely hope you will be able to find time to attend and help us to promote mental illness and reduce stigma in the society. If you can speak for a few minutes even a brief visit would be appreciated as we know you are a busy man.

    If you wish to contact us directly we look forward to hearing from you soon. Our phone number is 020 8359 3230.

    We hope to seeing you on the 8th October in Hendon.

    Kind regards
    The Network Team

  47. Mele says:

    I hear you Stephen, I’m a graphic designer, it’s either twiddling one’s thumbs reading your blogs/tweets or complete terror and hysteria with a deadline. In a perfect world of course I would kindly ask my clients to send through the projects when I’m inclined to do them. My job would be perfect if it wasn’t for clients!

  48. Rillaby says:

    Well – through dedicated procrastination in the face of a uni assignment due Friday, I’ve discovered this site! What a wonderful new displacement activity! Thank you Stephen.

  49. Rewi says:

    Dear Colonel Fry,

    If you are reading this then perhaps you have completed your screenplay! Huzzah!

    However, it may also be the case that you are procrastinating. For shame.

    Now I really must cease projecting my own guilt and get on with some writing…

  50. Nimrod Fartelchease says:

    Dear Mr Fry,

    your mention of Douglas Adams reminded me that I have a suspicion that I was the model for the character Dirk Gently. I think I once met Mr Adams at a party in Cambridge in the 80s, and there are a number of eerie coincidences between Dirk gently and myself, not least of which was the similarity of our names (I’m not really Nimrod Fartelchease) and chain-smoking Gauloises Bleu ciggies. I was in the process of composing a careful letter to him to clarify this when I heard of his tragic and untimely demise. Did he ever confide to you how he came up with the Dirk Gently character? It would be nice to know whether I was the inspiration or that it was just a very weird coincidence.


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