Anthony Irvine – The Iceman – appears occasionally in this blog.
I first auditioned his stage act – melting blocks of ice – in 1987.
In a later incarnation – AIM – he added painting to his creative output. Some of his fine art can be bought from the Saatchi Art website.
For example, a painting of his first ice block – Crazy Larry’s Painting – is currently on offer at a bargain price of £4,280.
And now Anthony has become an author…
JOHN: So you are now an author as well as a performer and painter…
ANTHONY: I have a literary background. When I was a young man, I studied literature at a very ancient institution.
ANTHONY: It’s a children’s book called Lockdown Melter.
JOHN: And you presumably wrote it during the Covid block-down…
ANTHONY: Yes. I thought of everybody suffering. It’s a fantasy where a young child – Debbie – is frustrated with the situation and escapes with the aid of Lappy, a polar bear – a small polar bear – who she meets in her bedroom and she goes on this adventure to Antarctica.
To facilitate this adventure, Lappy instructs her to get some ice cubes from the fridge freezer. The ice cubes are put on her head and there’s a magical transformation and she goes on this journey.
The idea is that Antarctica is a pristine, beautiful, relatively-undamaged place that we can all go to; the animals are in harmony and, in the story, the penguin says…
JOHN: The penguin?
ANTHONY: Yes, the penguin… There’s a penguin… As I wrote it, I thought: This is an amazing parallel to my Iceman stage act. It retains an ice theme. In a sense, I melt blocks of ice to achieve purification. Similarly, Debbie is finding something away from this world really – saṃsāra and all that.
JOHN: Saṃsāra ?
ANTHONY: The Buddhist concept of suffering. Do you chant?
JOHN: Not as far as I know.
ANTHONY: Lockdown Melter was a very simple story but I quite liked it, so I approached a publisher, Olympia, who have an imprint called Bumblebee who have published it.
JOHN: Well, if you write a good children’s story that doesn’t date – it’s a fantasy – it’ll sell forever and internationally.
ANTHONY: You can get it from WH Smith, Foyles, Browns Books, the Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon, the lot…
JOHN: You should tell Waterstones you will do a signing of the book AND melt a block of ice the same time. That should get people in. Does JK Rowling melt blocks of ice in a bookshop? No. She’s just not trying hard enough.
ANTHONY: Perhaps I should go Banksy-style and sell a book that melts. You know his picture that shredded itself?
JOHN: Yes. The water from your melted book might be worth a fortune.
ANTHONY: Is it technically possible?
JOHN: I dunno. You are The Iceman. Why become an author?
ANTHONY: I used to tell stories to my young son and I guess I’d always had the thought I might write a children’s story. It is really for young children. The idea is young children could read it themselves or parents could read it to them; it’s more like a picture book. So then I realised I had to get the pictures.
The illustrator is actually Greek: Sofia Stefanis Pons. She did some nice – I think dramatic – illustrations. My pictures were declined as being too ‘rough’. But hers are great.
JOHN: So do you have an idea for a second book?
ANTHONY: Yes. I like the innocence of Lockdown Melter.
When I was a child, I was very unhappy at one point and I built an arch with stiff cushions. I went through the arch and discovered I was happy. So the Lockdown Melter idea is simple but it is like going somewhere and attaining awareness. It’s the same principle.
Debbie goes on a journey. She meets animals who are nice to her and she finds the Antarctic world all very beautiful and something happens at the end which I can’t give away. But I think the idea of the story is the idea that human beings – the human race – need help and in this story it’s the penguin who gives that help.
JOHN: The penguin?
ANTHONY: Yes, the penguin… There’s a penguin… Next time I think Debbie might go to the Sahara.
JOHN: Difficult to work ice blocks into that story.
ANTHONY: An ice block could bring irrigation to the Sahara… I think if this first book is successful I WILL continue with the writing idea.
I have already written 13 little plays for drama classes in schools. That book is due to be published soon. It’s called Thespian Follies.
It’s an educational resource; I’m going quite mainstream, aren’t I?
Ice blocks were my life and still are my life to some extent but I feel I have to do a bit more. My next ambition is to write a Channel 4 type series: a bit like The Outlaws but based on car rental. When I was in debt at one point, I did a job at Hertz car hire, cleaning cars and taking them out to the Army and so on: that’s a ready-made situation comedy.
JOHN: You could call it Hertz of Darkness.
ANTHONY: I was thinking of calling it Hurts… That’s my next project.
Maybe writing will displace painting in time, but at the moment my main activity is still painting. I’m trying to sell Bill Bailey a painting; I’m playing tennis with his accountant this afternoon.
I sold a painting to Mark Thomas at the Electric Palace in Bridport recently. He was on tour and I hadn’t seen him for about 40 years. He gave me his book and I sold him a painting in which he appears.
JOHN: You are a born entrepreneur. JK Rowling will have to start learning how to melt blocks of ice…