The evergreen L. Ron Hubbard is back in town, despite having died in January 1986. Dude!
‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more’
Early doors post this week ‘cos I’ll be heading back to the undulating hills of Glastonbury tomorrow. Long-term readers of this stuff and nonsense may remember I reluctantly did something similar last year, hauled kicking and screaming into the furore by those who would not take no for an answer, and yet I came out relatively unscathed. Perhaps this time around the relentless assault of life will have conclusively exacted its toll, leaving me unable to manage much more than a couple of juniper-based sharpeners at dusk and a premature nosedown in whatever wigwam they have in mind for me. Or not. We shall see.
It hasn’t always been thus. There was a brief spell when I could gambol across the site, unfettered and nimble as a ballerina, drinking in the madness and whatever my tipple of choice was back then in equal measures. I would stay up all night, every night, insane with joy and totally beyond caring what was happening elsewhere. Music and adrenalin were my co-pilots, and when they were on board I owned the very core of those vast magnetic fields. You should have seen me, I was superb: I burned like magnesium, radiating like gamma and blistering in the sun like the Violent Femmes. Really, I did.
It didn’t last long though. When being grown-up became a thing instead of a distant concept, I gave in and learned the rules of the everyday. I did jobs I didn’t want to do. I went out with sensible people I didn’t really want to go out with. I feigned interest in all of the trappings of being an adult, when all I wanted to do was the polar opposite. I trod on a few toes along the way, which I’m not proud of but it happened. And then, a good decade after most regular folk are preparing for the final chapter, I decided to piss away whatever minuscule security I had mustered to date in favour of a much riskier, but ultimately more satisfying goal: to write. In an era when writers have less chance of staying afloat than ever. Because there are more writers than cockroaches these days.
This is what draws me back. Glastonbury, despite its inevitable nod to commerce, still represents the troubadour spirit. Anything seems possible here if you have a dream and the balls to see it through. And if it’s just an illusion, it is a magnificent one. Who cares who’s playing on the big stage? It matters not one jot. Someone in a tiny tent way out on the fringes has the potential to make an incalculable difference, and that’s what makes it special. That’s why I’m going in one last time. To suck at the marrow of a sprawling collective unconscious which can turn your life around on a sixpence. Even at its most desperate, outermost ebb.
It’s Glastonbury week again. Huzzah! So just to kick things off, here’s a timely reminder why people like me should stay indoors and do something more appropriate instead. Like reading the pink paper or fixing a lawnmower. Kim who?
Right. Three quotes in from the printers, time to do do some costings and make a film. Yes, a film. Apparently if you do a straight-to-camera pitch, people feel sorry for you and are more inclined to donate. Like on Facebook when they show you those wounded puppies with pleading eyes. So I’ll have a go at that then.
I didn’t really want to put up any of the artwork just yet, but these spreads are just too good not to give you a quick peak. Illustration here by the disgustingly talented DNA Factory, more to come when the campaign goes live. Looking like 17th July. There will be a launch party in SE London which everyone’s welcome to attend. Message me for cheap flights/hotels/personal peccadillo limitations etc… Or just to find out where it is.
Massive thanks to Ursula McLaughlin for getting these done x
Impending death kind of makes you get your skates on. All that time you spent dicking about doing nothing of consequence will eventually appear at your door tapping its watch. Which is no biggie if you happen to have chalked up some of the stuff you set out to achieve, but if, like me, you’ve tried and failed too often to even care about, you have to ask yourself two pretty searching questions:
Do I keep going, or do I shackle myself to the yoke of submission and admit defeat?
The death thing is quite a major pisser, but when you boil it back to basics it’s not actually life-threatening; just an expedient reminder for you to get off your arse and get on with it. If it bothers you, you can always hop over to deathclock.com (the internet’s friendly reminder that life is slipping away), where they kindly work out how long you’ve got until you are reclaimed by the Grim Reaper. I did briefly consider this, but thought better of it after browsing the search criteria and calculating for myself that I was already living on borrowed time.
I weighed it up. Yes, I could go back to a job that looks good on paper to those who don’t really understand what it entails, or load my bollocks back into the wheelbarrow of endeavour and run with it/them once again. To where there’s no safety net if things go a bit tits. Where the odds are stacked against you because you should have done it twenty years ago. Where the contenders are younger, media-savvy and hungry for that rapidly diminishing slice of the pie. And then, just as I was beginning to cave, someone introduced me to Jonathan Ames.
If ever an ageing, unpublished writer needed a tonic, it came then in the form of this man’s work. A self-deprecating, pushed alter-ego, doing (and penning) things most of us would ordinarily shun, in the tradition of the great American humourists but with a filthier edge, Ames was pushing all my buttons. The greater irony being that the exaggerated failure he casts himself as is, in reality, exactly who I am now. Although I too am writing as an exaggerated failure, and shall continue to do so despite any inconvenient impending success. It’s a headsmoker, make no mistake, but a glorious one nonetheless.
So where does that leave us? My newfound admiration for Mr Ames will almost certainly draw comparisons, the most apposite being that despite sharing a birth year, I am in South-East London writing drivel for 350 people and he is about to launch Blunt Talk (which, from the trailer, appears to be the sharpest comedy to come out of the States in decades) and is probably rather busy. But it is comforting to note that we have been singing from the same hymn sheet for quite a while. Independently, I swear.
Doubt, get thee behind me.
Bit of back story here. Not all that funny either, but at least it demonstrates we can pull something out of the bag if pushed.
An amalgam of some of the audio sessions we filmed in 2015. They were enormous fun to do, usually culminating in the consumption of copious amounts of Pinot and an absurd photo op with a potato. There is no adequate explanation for this. At the time, the excellent Rupert Ingham was doing the narration and I was directing it all from the sidelines. Although things are a little different now, I sincerely hope we can work together again in the future.
Of all the relationships I’ve ever had, perhaps the most difficult is the one I still hold with the booze. It’s pretty shit, to be frank, and I didn’t choose it either. My namesake grandfather died of it before I was born, as did my own father indirectly, and it will probably see me off prematurely if the snout doesn’t get me first. Its claws are pan-generational, way outside the boundaries of logic and reason, and conveniently, a quick re-read of the above somehow absolves me of any absolute guilt, thereby allowing me to persevere with more of the same in order to write dispassionately about it. As if that makes it okay. The obvious, entry-level question filed by those close enough to be concerned, is this:
‘Do you drink alone?’
And the most honest answer I can give is:
‘Yes, I do. I drink alone out of preference. Because then, finally, the ever-present critical voices (which extend into every cranny of my existence) shut up long enough for me to be able to do the things I actually care about. Until I go down the opposite slope and couldn’t give a toss any more. Can I get you a top up?’
It’s not what they want to hear. And those I’ve upset along the path (trust me, there have been a few) will see it as a romanticised excuse, along the lines of Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited, very much the architect of his own downfall despite every gift life bestowed upon him.
Someone kindly gave me a book last Christmas. Called ‘The Trip To Echo Spring’ by Olivia Laing, it discusses the troubled link so many writers have with the demon grog. Not that I have ever considered myself a bona fide writer, and thereby lies the problem. The very term has such powerful connotations that the unsure are crippled at the starting blocks, pitifully reliant on whatever it takes to be taken seriously. Until the crutch becomes counterproductive, by which time it’s usually too late. Between these, I walk a fine line: If that glorious moment ever comes about when something I have created becomes a thing, I’ll probably be too mullered to notice. But maybe you will, and I’d be grateful if you could let me know. We’ve been around the block together for nearly four years. You owe me.
I have a rule. When I spew this stuff out, usually late at night and alongside a bottle of Pinot, I resist the temptation to hit the publish button until the following morning. Because, no matter how cathartic it may seem at the time, the unforgiving light of a new day will invariably reveal my incisive efforts to be little more than a muddled, steaming pile of cack. But ask yourselves something: You’re reading this. Does that mean it’s through quality control, or am I slumped comatose over the return key?
I’ll leave that one with you.
This week, it’s the contentious subject of foodstuffs. Practical solution to the endemic crime of celebrity chefs also included at no extra cost, along with convincing dystopian alternative for those who prefer their lunch to take three minutes and come from a pot.
Just heard back from 3rd Rail clothing who are printing these up for me – Now shipping a bit late due to supply issues. They gave me the option to choose another brand but I’m sold on these babies, great quality, ethical etc… Like me, basically. So I’ll take the hit. Have also decided to use them as shameless bribes to make you pledge something for the book when the campaign goes live, so not for sale as such. More of a chicane.
On that subject & all being well, we’re aiming to kick off in the first week of July. It will run for 35 days, and there will be an escalating series of rewards (some of which are really special) depending on how much is pledged. I’m keeping the target as low as I can manage in the fervent hope that we meet it and the book can go into production. If it falls short, you all get your money back & I go into the Priory. If we go over, I’ll make it a hardback and/or print off more copies. That’s how it works. So forgive me if you start getting grovelling emails/requests to share posts/miscellaneous irritating intrusions into your lives. It won’t be for long and who knows? You might get a lovely shirt to polish the Chippendale with.