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Shoestring

These quarantine days are heavy – working on three projects (one good, one bad, and one weird) seemed like a good idea at the time, but after five days it’s starting to take its toll. My hands ache, my head aches, and I am absolutely sure I will never be able to write a single line of decent fiction for the rest of my life.

So to recharge my batteries and take my mind off the plotlines and what else, I’ve found a piece of my past as a TV viewer on Youtube, and I’m spending my lunch break going down memory lane.
because I was a very unhappy student in my first year of high school when I first saw Shoestring.

Shoestring was a BBC mystery series produced between 1979 and 1980, featuring young Trevor Eve as Eddie Shoestring, a computer programmer that suffers a nervous breakdown and ends up working as a private investigator for a radio station: you phone in your troubles, he sees into your case, and then talks about it on late night radio.

The series was a mix of novel ideas (the private eye working as a private ear on a private radio) and an offbeat, often noir-tinged atmosphere that was quite evident from the title sequence on. Eddie Shoestring was a weird, melancholy joker, a man with a past in a psychiatric ward: he did not always come out of his cases as the winner, and the ending of his stories was sometimes bittersweet. Throw in the filming location (Bristol during the Thatcher years) and the radio-based soundtrack, and Shoestring was very much a product of its time, and a nice reminder of the fact that the ’80s started in ’78.

With a good cast, interesting plots and a great attitude, I realize now how much the series stayed with me through these forty years. There’s a bit of Shoestring in Buscafusco, and a few years back I pitched a series of novels based on the same premise -a private eye taking on cases submitted by the audience of a news service. The pitch was very solid, but alas it went nowhere.

As far as I know, all 21 episodes of the series are now found on Youtube. They seem to be the cut, edited version, but they are still a nice way to spend an hour during lunch, thinking about something that’s not writing, writing, writing.

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