Portrait of Miss Caroline Bingley (courtesy of Jane Austen Prequels and Sequels)
If you haven’t heard about my soon-to-be released book Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts, now’s your chance! Check out my interview with Kory French on the Book Talk show at BreakThru Radio, where I discuss how I approached the writing of my version of the Jane Austen classic, along with a whole bunch of other bookish (and not so bookish) topics.
Well, I suppose it was inevitable: I’d have to screw up somewhere. And what better place to do so than right in front of a video camera for the entire world to see? Okay, I could have kept it hidden, saved my professional pride. But that would be cheating.
And you don’t want me to cheat, do you?
Because sometimes even Mitzi doesn’t get it right!
Mitzi Szereto at Mitzi TV "Born To Be Wild" video shoot
Mitzi TV head to the pastoral English countryside for some peace and relaxation, only to get a lot more than they bargained for when a hoard of Harley Davidson riders descends on their quiet country hotel.
Yours truly (that’s me!) recently took some time out to chat with journalist Michael Casey at a local Essex watering hole about my new entrepreneurial Internet television venture Mitzi TV – its origins, its direction, and its future, as well as the business of books, blogging, and social media.
In case you didn’t already know (like where you been, mate?), Mitzi TV is the new web TV channel to head to for all things quirky and eccentric in London. We’ve gone from crazy pub singalongs, eating jellied eel, and chatting about classic cars with such luminaries as Formula 1 racecar driver/BBC TV presenter Tiff Needell, couture shoe designer Jimmy Choo and Batman – to Morris dancing with software geeks. And no, this wasn’t in the same episode!
Of course, I couldn’t create all this madness and mayhem without the talents of cameraman extraordinaire/stand-up diamond geezah Steve Beer and cutie-pie theme musicman extraordinaire Andrew Shatnyy (Facebook/MySpace). And let’s not forget the talents of my handsome (albeit furry) production assistant extraordinaire Teddy Tedaloo, who also provides onscreen talent.
As for those buttocks I mentioned, how do you deal with a governmental body that has all the common sense of not even one buttock?
In my never-ending quest to bring you the ever-quirky and eccentric (while still managing to stay out of the loony bin), I recently found myself entering into a rather annoying fracas with a governmental body: the Royal Parks people. I knew I should’ve cut through all those buzzing drones and biscuit-eating/tea drinking middle men (and women) and gone straight to the top, specifically HRH. Now Lizzie’s a queen who gets things done!
I am referring to a recent attempt by yours truly to line up permission to shoot a Mitzi TV video at Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park. Because it’s a “Royal” park, I knew I’d need to obtain an official okay. I mean, it wasn’t like we’d be there with a little digital camera and could subtly blend into the crowd. We run a professional operation with professional equipment. (Plus people have commented on that big-ass mike I use, so “subtle” is not the word that springs to mind when we’re talking a Mitzi TV shoot.) Since Speaker’s Corner necessitates a substantial police presence (some of the speakers and audience members can get pretty wound up apparently), I didn’t fancy being led away by the Old Bill, therefore I decided to follow the proper channels to make the shoot happen. It’s a quirky kind of event, and Mitzi TV is nothing if not quirky, so it didn’t seem likely I’d be given an “on yer bike, missus!”.
When I received an email replying to my query, I thought, hey, this is great – sounds like we’re in! Here follows the exact text that refers directly to the issue about who and what controls the area in question:
Speaker’s Corner is an integral part of Hyde Park, which is one of London’s eight Royal Parks. The Royal Parks are owned by the Crown, but were passed to the Government under the Crown Lands Act 1851 to be managed as public open space. They are now the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who delegates their day to day management to The Royal Parks. They are funded by the taxpayer.
Teddy Tedaloo in Mitzi TV video opener
“Public open space.” “Funded by the taxpayer.” Well, I’m no lawyer, but this sounds like the definition of a public place – and you do not need permission to film in a public place (not yet anyway). That is why it’s called “PUBLIC.” That statement about being funded by the taxpayer put a further stamp of approval on the process, because guess who’s a taxpayer? Yeah, moi. Just to make certain there was no misinterpretation on my part as to what clearly looked to be a clear description of who controls the park, I messaged once more to confirm that I’d be allowed to shoot some video of the speakers, and asked which specific days they were there spouting off.
The reply came back that these Soapbox Annies and Alis are there on Sundays only, and yes, I would need permission to film, but my message was being forwarded to the Appropriate Party. Not wanting to waste time, I shot off an email to this A.P., explaining what I wished to do and that I’d like to take care of the details as quickly as possible. A.P. messaged back, informing me that they do not permit filming at Speaker’s Corner on Sundays, but I could phone them to discuss the matter further.
Umm… did they not just tell me that I couldn’t film there on a Sunday? So what was there to discuss, the weather? Of course we all know how the Brits love to talk about the weather.
So did this mean they’d give me permission to film at Speaker’s Corner on a day that was not a Sunday? Now forgive me if I’m wrong (or extremely stupid), but what’s the point of filming speakers at Speaker’s Corner when there aren’t any speakers there to film? This is the very question I put forth to A.P. in my reply, also mentioning the fact that plenty of people have shot videos there – how could this be possible if they needed to obtain permission? Needless to say, my email did not receive a response.
Mitzi Szereto at Mitzi TV "Baby You Can Drive My Car" video shoot
Now I have nothing against doing a bit of guerrilla filming – I’ve got more cajones than any of the men I’ve known. However, what I do have something against is being harassed (and led away by handcuffs) by the police. There’s a time and place for handcuffs – and this isn’t one of them. Besides which, London coppers aren’t as cute as they used to be. They’re getting a bit wide, if you know what I mean, looking more and more like their doughnut-eating American counterparts. So we’d better forget the handcuffs for now.
As for Mitzi TV, keep an eye out for me at Speaker’s Corner, because I don’t like taking “no” for an answer.
Guess it’s a good thing they abolished beheading in this country…
Mitzi Szereto at Mitzi TV "Knees Up Mother Brown" video shoot
Mitzi TV go for a right old knees-up at a proper authentic English “local”, The Duke of Kendal pub in Central London, where all forms of madness ensue. From colourful characters to rude Cockney songs and operatic arias, this is English eccentricity at its very finest!
Mitzi Szereto at Mitzi TV Morris Dancing video shoot
Mitzi TV ventures into Central London to meet up with the Westminster Morris Men, a team of Morris dancers who do a lot more than shake their booty as they keep alive this wonderfully rhythmic English folk dance!
Mitzi TV goes on the prowl in London in search of the famous East End Cockney delicacy, the jellied eel… (Turns out these scary denizens of the deep weren’t our cup of tea. We should’ve ordered the pie and mash instead!)