Following the release of his (very appetising) book, Menus That Made History, I caught up with 26 member Vincent Franklin. If you think you recognise him, you probably do. Not only is he the Creative Director at Quietroom, he’s also an actor and has starred in all sorts – from The Thick of It to Gentleman Jack.
We’ll be meeting a new 26 member each month. If
you’d like to feature, or nominate another member, drop me a line at email@example.com. Don’t
Tell us a bit about yourself – where
are you from and what do you do?
I was born in Keighley, the home of
racism, and brought up in Haworth, the home of the Brontës. Then, when I was nine, we moved to Kilnsea, a village
with a population of 39 that sits precariously on the thinnest part of
Yorkshire — a spit of land that pokes out into the North Sea and on rough days
with high tides gets cut off from the mainland. After a couple of years, my mum
and dad regained their sanity and we moved to Bradford. Where I think they lost
it again. For the first twelve years of my life we lived over or next door to
restaurants that my dad owned and ran. So writing a book about menus was
I have a portfolio career – portfolio
being latin for ’not quite good enough at any one thing to make a living at it’.
I graduated from Bristol University and then studied acting at the Old Vic
Theatre School, and have worked as an actor ever since. But I’m also the
Creative Director at Quietroom, which is packed with 26 members. We use words
to help people make better decisions about their future. So we cover everything
from pension freedoms and taxation, to climate change and diabetes. If it’s
complicated, a bit unloved, but really important, we like to get in there.
Where did your love of words come
My love of words (if I have one) comes
from debating and storytelling and a brief spell as a stand up comedian. I like
jokes and wit and passion and argument, so give me Donne and Blake over Keats
and Wordsworth any day. I know that’s heretical. Sorry. With Menus That
Made History, a book I’ve just written with Alex Johnson, it’s more about the
stories than the words. We didn’t reject any menus because the food wasn’t
good. We only rejected them when we couldn’t find a good story hidden away in
What made you join 26? How long have
you been a member?
Andy Hayes introduced me to 26, 7
years ago. I love the collective projects with lots of voices.
Have you been involved in any 26
I have only been involved as a reader.
What’s your ideal scenario for
writing? (A coffee shop? Quiet retreat? With or without music? What do you do
to get yourself in the right frame of mind?)
I like what I’m writing to fill my
vision, so I quickly learned that sitting in front of a big old-fashioned desk
top computer was much better than tapping away on a lap top. And silence makes
me panic, so I listen to music (with no lyrics). But I work best in short bursts.
The most important thing for me is to be able to stop every twenty minutes,
walk away, and make tea that I probably won’t drink. I should have been a
smoker. In that five minutes waiting for the kettle, my brain starts editing
and improving and finding a new angle on things. And then I can go back.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m not working on anything at the
moment. My excuse is that I’m filming various things and don’t have time. But
that’s just the excuse of a lazy and disorganised man. We’ve been asked to do a
follow-up to the menus book, so there’s mention of research around the corner.
After that, there’s a story about the industrial revolution and body snatching
that I’ve been playing around with for while and I need to settle down to.
Could you tell us about a piece of
writing you’re particularly proud of?
I’m not proud of anything I’ve
written. I just look at my work and see where it could be better or where it’s
Where do you get your inspiration?
I don’t write anything inspiring, so I
don’t need it. But for me, the story, like the devil, is in the detail.
Menus That Made History: Over 2000 years of menus from Ancient Egyptian food for the afterlife to Elvis Presley’s wedding breakfast is available now. – Vincent Franklin and Sophie Gordon