Book Update No. 16

cover_mockup_2

lunar_twits mr_reynard tyranny_sex vox_humana windows_soul

Idle_Eye_postcard_web

Remember this? If you can’t, please allow me to bring you up to speed: almost exactly one year ago, following on from an intense yet successful Kickstarter campaign, Amateur of Life and Death was released into the world via my very own little publishing wing, Ward 10 Books. Twenty brilliant artists from disparate disciplines and locations all contributed two illustrations, it was beautifully designed by Ursula McLaughlin and it became a hardback as we raised £1000 more than I had originally pitched for. It sold quite a few copies to begin with, but then came the inevitable slowdown and the impenetrable wall of the big stores was never adequately scaled. This upset me at first, but it lead onto the alternative route I have adopted since April; live performance and the Broken Biscuits shows. Which I adore, but the book is still a very real thing, still available and I am immensely proud of it.

As we prepare to enter the season of goodwill, may I humbly suggest the above as an adequate token of affection for a loved one, a colleague, a pet, an accountant or anyone else who knows you. It is quite easy to wrap, has pictures if you don’t like the words, and it fits under most doors. Simply click on the link below and I will sign it & send it to whoever you wish. If the link doesn’t work, could you let me know in the comments please? I’m a bit shit at this stuff which is why I’m not rich.

I thank you x

paypalbutton BW

Book Update No.15

bookmark_v2_2

It’s nearly over. The little seed that germinated on January 7th will be made flesh on 20th November, and what better way to celebrate than to throw a party. And what a party it promises to be! The godlike Flame Proof Moth (aka Tim Siddall, a contributing artist) will provide some of his hilarious, bone dry tunes; Richard Amp and Donald Ross Skinner their ambient wizardry. I’ll be reading out a few posts with the help of a few special guests, books will be available to buy (c’mon, it’s nearly Christmas!) and some of the book artwork (originals and prints) are up for grabs, kindly provided by the artists. The DnA Factory will also have their 25th anniversary exhibition running alongside all of the above, more than worth the journey in its own right. And all set in one of the most beautiful members clubs I’ve yet come across, just a stone’s throw from London’s iconic Tower Bridge.

If you’d like to come along, please make contact at the RSVP address/number on the invite. Obviously we want it to be well attended, but the club will need names and numbers so we can plan ahead and make it a comfortable night for everyone. If you don’t/can’t make it, I’m deeply sorry but you can always say you were there, like the 5000+ people who claimed they saw the Sex Pistols at the 100 Club in ’76. Lying is one of the most creative things you can do when you get past forty. Unless you’re me, when it becomes a default setting.

Finally, a mahoosive thank you to all those who helped make this happen; you know who you are. A less mahoosive one to those who actively didn’t; you also know who you are and yes, you will be judged; in this world or the next. I don’t make the rules.

Book Update No.14

IMG_3636

Artwork is in, got the ISBN, layout’s looking pretty swanky, paper type’s chosen and Amateur of Life and Death is now in the hands of the eagle-eyed Elinor who will hack out the unremitting repetition and cut it all down to about thirty words. And then I must be brave and send my first child off to the printers.

It’s a strange old feeling when you know you have to let go, but like my mother on my first day at school I’ll probably don a huge pair of Foster Grants and weep discreetly behind them. And then I’ll worry so. Will it be bullied by weightier tomes? Should I send little pots of jam for it to share with its chums? A couple of spare blankets now that autumn’s upon us? And how will I fill those endless, friendless evenings from now on? No one tells you this stuff.

I’m also a bit scared about the bill. I know we raised the hardback funds but now I’m getting all fussy about paper thickness and bleed. And, to be honest, I forgot about the VAT which is a pisser. But come what may, there will be a book in November and I do hope you will all buy a copy. Make that a few – Christmas is coming and I don’t want it to be just the goose that gets fat.

There will also be a launch on Friday 20th November at 6.30pm at the very same venue I mentioned in Update 13. It will be busy and entry will be by RSVP invites only, but if you’d like to come and listen to me butcher my own work as you drink the good drink, or enjoy some of the art from the book as you take in a bit of live moosik, get in touch. Usual channels. I’ll sign a few books if you want, and if you pay a bit more I won’t. Every little helps…

Book Update No.13

EFC_Release from Solitary

Well, that’s the first bit over with. Now I’ve got just over a month to put it all together and off it goes to the printers. Thank you to all you beautiful pledgers out there, you’ve helped make this kooky ole ship sail. And sail it most certainly shall. Got to say it though, I’ll be glad to get out of the flat for a bit when the time comes. The builders below have made every day an agony and I’m getting a bit sick of my own company (now I know how you feel). But there are plans afoot for the big launch in November which I’ll go into in detail when a few more things are confirmed. All being well, it will be in Central London at an impossibly cool venue very close to Tower Bridge with gallery space, a bar and it’s run by lovely people who just get this kind of thing. Perfect!

If you can’t wait that long, I’ll be doing some readings and enjoying a few sherbets in Crystal Palace’s own Numidie Bar tomorrow evening (Saturday 29th August) from 7pm. Just an excuse to say thanks and…er…enjoy a few sherbets. Like you do. Please pop by if you can, should be fun.

The second lot of artworks have already started rolling in and they are, as with the first, superb. Ursula is laying them out and I’ll be working on the final order over the next couple of weeks, harder than you might think. And we also have to decide whether we’ll have a dust jacket or just go commando, hmm. So much to think about, so little time.

Until the next one (without the annoying Escape from Colditz cards, you have my word) x

Idle Eye 167 : The Contractual Obligation

Right, the book fundraising is officially done and dusted. Time to roll up my sleeves and make the bloody thing, and if you’re reading this from said tome and not online, you’ll know that somehow I pulled it off. But lovely though it may be to have the printing dosh in the bag, I do have other contractual issues to consider. For example, I promised Philippa Burne, Trish Dicey and Simon Phipps that I’d write them all into a book post and now that we’re out of the blocks, I haven’t a clue how to do it. I mean, they’ve never met each other and they all live in different countries for starters. So it’s not as if I could set up a chance encounter in a supermarket or nightclub, is it? No, I’m going to have to be way smarter than that. And possibly a tad duplicitous:

I’ve also told Melinda Doring and Pierre Woollard that they will be illustrated by the godlike hand of Mark Weighton, and I got to thinking I could somehow shoehorn the whole lot of them in together. No one will be any the wiser and my workload would effectively be halved. Confused? I know, I know. But what if Mark does this drawing of me scribbling away at my desk and there, legibly on the paper, are three names: Philippa, Trish and Simon. I’m lost in the muse, brow furrowed and clearly on edge. As per. Fortunately, Melinda is there pouring me a glass of Pinot and Pierre is carrying a ramekin of liquorice in from the kitchen. See, it’s genius! All bases are covered and I get a night off.

Obviously, this cunning ruse is fully dependent on Mark stepping up to the plate. Because if he locks horns and does something different, my cover will be blown and I’ll have to do it again, which kind of defeats the object. So I’ll tell him the pledge specifically states that he does all the graft and bank on him being too busy to check. He’s an artist, for Christ’s sake, as if he would. Next, I contact everyone concerned and tell them the good news. What’s not to like? I surpass myself sometimes, I really do.

In case you’re wondering, it isn’t easy being this Machiavellian. A lot of time and effort goes in at the deep end. Thinking about it, probably about the same amount of time and effort to just do it properly and skip out the cod cloak-and-dagger stuff entirely. But that’s not the point, is it? I have an obligation to my pledgers and I shall fulfil it by whatever convoluted method is necessary. And if it so happens to make my life considerably easier, well that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

My brighter readers will have spotted what I did there. But that’s between us and it goes no further. A lot hangs on this, capiche?

Idle Eye 166 : The Rec

In order to combat the insomnia I’ve covered previously, for the last few weeks I’ve taken to power marching the boundaries of a small park behind my flat. It’s called the Rec, short for recreation ground, but the obvious homonym is far more apposite. For every day, I encounter troubled souls doing something similar, usually alone and lost absolutely in thought. As I myself have discovered, there is comfort to be had in movement, but more particularly in the routine of it. So it comes as no surprise to see now familiar faces in now familiar spots at very specific times.

If I set out at 9.30am, I know that at approximately 9.40am I will see an elderly jogger under one of the horse chestnut trees, his face distorted, eyes dead. He does not acknowledge me, nor I him, but we both know. Similarly, if I leave twenty minutes later, I’ll twice pass a woman dressed rather more formally than is required for a walk. She moves at a crawl, her head tilted in reflection. Every time I pound past them, trying desperately to get to a place where the body becomes exhausted enough to allow the brain to function, I can’t help but wonder what it is that brings them here. Tragedy? Loss? Loneliness? Or is it perhaps something altogether more banal? Whichever, I have found myself actively anticipating these fleeting moments and building them into my own routine.

The dog walkers are a little different, for they have a companion and are more inclined to offer up pleasantries as I approach them. This induces mild panic, as I will momentarily be forced to leave the safe haven of contemplation in favour of an appropriate response, usually preceded by an active engagement with the pet itself. It is enormously disruptive, so if I see one looming on the horizon I tend to adopt the requisite speed to avoid them entirely. Sadly this isn’t always possible, and it takes a good lap of resentment to get things back on the level.

There is one character I haven’t quite yet figured out. He wears green municipal fluoros and carries a large bag, presumably for collecting leaves. Invariably he stands inside one of the hard tennis courts, clutching the wire mesh with his free hand and staring out at something in the far distance. He hardly moves as I circumnavigate, and the only times I haven’t seen him is when the court is occupied. Which isn’t all that often. It is a magnificently solitary pose, akin to John Fowles’ French Lieutenant’s Woman but lacking the insider knowledge as to why this is so. In all probability he’s just on the skive, but where’s the romance in that?

When the book campaign ends this Sunday, I’m going to knock it on the head. I’ll have stacks to do and it’s all too easy to become yet another ghost. But I hope they’ll notice I’ve gone.

Book Update No.12

EFC_Bribe Sentry Card

Struggling with a few things at the moment, but that’s no excuse not to update. So here goes:

Amateur of Life and Death is now £495 away from hitting its Stretch Goal of £5000. This will allow it to become a glorious hardback, printed by the lovely people at TT Litho in Rochester, and that wine glass on the cover will be UV varnished so you’ll think it’s real. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it’s nice to know that it will definitely happen and you pledgers will get the result by the end of October, all being well.

I’ve just allocated the second posts to be illustrated to all artists so now it’s a waiting game. And if we hit that £5000 target, all backers will get something quite special, as well as the rewards they’ve pledged for. Can’t tell you what just yet, but it’s rather good. You’ll see.

The campaign finishes on Sunday 23rd August at midday. My final push will be a flurry of grovelling emails so please forgive this in advance if you happen to get one. Finally, one last plea to anyone who hasn’t yet pledged:

Click on the fag card above and it will take you to the campaign page. And when you’re there, if you spare this ole boy a dime I’ll love you longtime. Thanks x

Book Update No.11

EFC_Talisman Card

Very happy to announce that Amateur of Life and Death hit its Kickstarter £4K target on Tuesday, which means that whatever happens from now on, this book will be made. Apologies for the late heads up here, I’ve been wading through the dark treacle of insomnia which gives you time but steals the impetus to use it (see latest post). So, I’ve done a few more costings and I think we can make it into a hardback if we raise another grand. Not an exact science, but it’s a nice round figure to aim for and art books should be hardbacks, right? This is called a Stretch Goal apparently, and has nothing at all to do with losing a bit of cellulite. So let’s go for that then. And any ‘stretch’ funds raised beyond that will go towards amassing an arsenal of brutally loud power tools which I’ll load into a van, follow the builders downstairs to their family homes and drill into their roofs throughout the night until they too are driven to misanthropy and despair. Worthy cause, right there…x

Book Update No.10

EFC_Key Card

Six days into the Kickstarter campaign and we’ve raised 68% of the target and got that Staff Pick to boot. Not bad, not bad at all. But my time spent online getting to know other crowdfunders has revealed that in just about every campaign, there is a lull and it can get quite scary. Like when a marathon runner hits the wall and feels like he/she can’t go on. The key (see what I did there?) is not to give in to it. What no one prepared me for is the intensity of emotion felt on just about every level. Every pledge feels like a personal blessing, and when things go a bit quiet it makes you feel physically sick. It will be interesting to see how I’m faring by the 23rd ‘cos I’m right on the edge as it is. And all to the soundtrack of relentess hammering from below. It’s Kafkaesque, man!

Anyway, my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have stumped up something. All being well, I’ll crack on with the second half pretty soon now. And if you haven’t, click on the key card above and help make it happen. You won’t regret it x

 

Idle Eye 163 : The Builder Jour

Now don’t get me wrong, I know people need to get works done from time to time in our fair capital. How else can we justify those absurdly inflated prices for what effectively are outmoded hunks of Victorian brick? But there comes a point when you just snap, and last Friday I did exactly that. When you’re running a Kickstarter campaign from home and the din and dust from downstairs penetrate through to the very fibre of your being, words have to be said.

To be fair, I held off as long as I could. I was pleasantly chatty (in that monosyllabic way builders seem to enjoy) when our paths crossed in the street. I pretended not to mind having to listen to Taylor Swift thirty times a day at ear-splitting volume, I managed to feign some kind of interest in the project and I even shrugged off the endless banging (that made my treaty glass of Pinot do a Michael Jackson across my desk) as the inevitable consequence of home improvement. What’s all that about? Why hasn’t someone come up with a device that just hits whatever it is they’re hitting once, very hard, job done? I don’t claim to understand what’s going on down there but it is positively Neanderthal. Yet still I did not react.

The final straw came when my water got shut off for the weekend. The builders had done a POETS day, the owner was on a train to somewhere foreign up north and I hummed like a lactating hyena. Then, finally, I saw red. A torrent of pent-up fury was unleashed down a broken phone line, made worse by the excruciating platitude that these things happen. I calculatedly escalated the intensity and tone of my delivery which would have culminated in a commanding Sgt Major roar, but unfortunately I had lost my voice a couple of days beforehand and ended up coming across as a mildly peeved Joan Rivers.

At approximately 11.30pm, a builder reappeared. He had hightailed it back from Southampton and was clearly steeling himself for the raving neighbour I’d no doubt been portrayed as. However, I was the consummate gentleman. Together we investigated the site and found the main feed, wrapped in white tape and haemorrhaging water into the back garden despite being turned off. Calls were made. Brows were furrowed. Not a lot could be done. Until tomorrow. Sorry, mate.

At this stage of the proceedings, there remained but two courses of retaliation. The first being an out-and-out screaming match which, as we’ve already established, was sadly denied to me. The second, ultimately more satisfying option was to plough into a freshly purchased bottle of Bulldog gin and stay up most of the night ranting and listening to vintage Australian pop. And then turn up at Crystal Palace Food Market (where I had a stall to promote the campaign) still steaming, still stinking and looking like death itself. Which is what I did. Obviously.