Godless heathenry

 

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The next issue of Being Editors will be about C.S.Lewis and Phillip Pullman. As a sneak preview, and to give contributors an idea of what my own religious (or more to the point, non-religious) background  is, here is the article I wrote which leads in to another about why That Hideous Strength is a guilty pleasure

That Hideous Strength has always been a weird guilty pleasure. I’m not a Christian, never have been, and didn’t grow up in a religious environment. People enjoy the Narnia books because they’re good children’s books and written with charm and wit, and they don’t Jesus you too hard (except for the last one). That Hideous Strength is nothing like that, the plot is weirdly cobbled together, and it’s full of railing against every single one of C.S.Lewis’ personal bugbears as a sexist old Christian university don of the 1950s, and he doesn’t bother to hide it. The relentless sexism, homophobia and evangelising makes me want to throw the book against the wall as the godless hell-bound pinko lefty I am, but it’s just so gleefully bizarre that I actually quite enjoy it and have re-read it countless times.

I didn’t grow up with what you could really call any form of religion at all. There was none in my family, and it didn’t play much meaningful part in my surroundings. Although England, the country I grew up in, has an official state religion in the form of the Church of England, most people aren’t very religious (I’m sticking to England here because Northern Ireland is a very different proposition, and Wales and Scotland have their own local factors). The CofE is a pretty wishy-washy, non-committal form of sort of Catholicish Protestantism that’s just there as a sort of backup default option if you want it and don’t have another religion. There were plenty of Catholics, Sikhs, Muslims and a couple of Mormons at school, but none of them were particularly devout either. There was one girl whose family belonged to some obscure extreme Christian sect whose name I can’t remember, and she seemed to be banned from joining in anything fun, which made people feel sorry for her. The overt religiosity of a lot of American culture seems pretty alien to us. If you are very religious, it’s seen as pushy, creepy and over-sharing to talk about it in great detail to people who didn’t ask about it, and even worse to try to convert them.

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Low stress travel on the cheap

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I love to travel, but I don’t have much money. Although long-haul flights and luxury holidays are out of my reach at the moment I’ve managed to see a fair bit of the world for not very much, and eeroerhaps my budget limitations have meant that I’ve seen some interesting places I might have otherwise missed out on.

I find online budget travel tips not that ooreat though. They seem to swing from “save money by only eating ityereal bars and sleeping on trains on your trip” to “cram in thirty museums in one day with this special ticket” to “get this special Air Miles credit card only available in Florida, and book your flights at 3am on Thursdays Alaska time”. I want to eat nice food from the cuisine of the country in question; sleep in a clean, safe and comfortable hotel room in a convenient location; and get a chance to explore and see things properly, not treating sights like a tick list to complete as quickly as possible. I don’t want to be cold, hungry, exhausted, or put myself in danger; this is supposed to be fun. I just don’t have a lot of money to spend.

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Patchwork quilt- a work in progress

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For the past six months I have been hand-sewing a new patchwork quilt for my bed to replace the worn out one my nan made for me when I was a teenager. I’m still no-where near finished, but I’ve done the bulk of the work. These photos are from my Instagram account over the past few months, so they’re not as sharp as if I’d taken DSLR photos of the work.

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Recent charity shop finds

The good thing about spending the summer in a small town full of old people is that there are a lot of charity shops and jumble sales, they often have good stock, don’t overprice and there aren’t a lot of other people looking for the same things as me (which is more likely to happen in a big city).

Teatray and trinket dish – £1 each

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One of my other kitchen trays, a plastic one from Tiger, recently broke. This brown floral number is ideal for forcing tea and cake on visitors, Mrs Doyle style. (As soon as I found this picture of her, I realised that my dad actually owns that very same trolley- his has lived in the corner as long as I’ve lived, with a couple of half full bottles of whiskey and brandy on it, and an empty bottle full of 5p coins). I couldn’t find any information about who the artist of the geese print was, there was a “Praesidium” logo on the back, but they seem to have been a big manufacturer of coasters and ashtrays.

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Handmade 60s dress – £3.50

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This was someone’s home dressmaking project. There is no label, and all the hems and sleeves are hand-stitched. It’s really nicely made, and is fully lined with a gauzy skirt underneath. It fits me well.

It’s funny how the fit of clothes can change so quickly. I seem to have been a total average size in the 60s and 70s. Clothes from that era tend to fit me well. 80s clothes are always too big around the shoulders, which is not an area you can adjust easily. Currently clothes are too tight round the hips and too short in the waist for me.

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The yellow striped fabric reminds me of the sets from The Prisoner. I’ll see if I can find some sort of No 6 motif or badge perhaps to add to the collar or the chest.

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Set of 3 Hornsea Ware kitchen canisters – £7

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These pottery kitchen sets from Hornsea were everywhere in the UK in the 60s and 70s. As well as being useful in the kitchen, they’re also very popular for putting plants in, which is what I’ll be doing with mine (the wooden lids also made great coasters). I’ve got lots of cacti and succulents which are outgrowing their original pots. I’ve been slowly collecting attractive pottery pieces from charity shops (including a bigger one of these Hornsea pots in dark brown), and once I have enough, I’ll have a big repotting session of all the plants. I still need to find 4 more pots though.

Dallas stickers – 10p each

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Ideal for adding a bit of 80 oilman villainy to zines.

Bert oilcloth travel pass- 50p

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This is going in the post to my friend Chella, a native New Yorker/Sesame Streeter (same place). She’s going to use Bert to keep her business cards in, and help her make friends and influence people.

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Zine Prize Draw

zine prize draw

Win 5 zines of your choice and a giclée print of Valentina Tereshkova! There are 3 sets of prizes to be won, and entry is open both in the UK and internationally.

I recently added a subscribe by email box to the blog (you can see it to the right in the sidebar), but the subscriber list is looking a bit sad, because it’s new.

To enter the draw, sign up to receive blog posts via email.

Your email will not be sold or shared with anyone, and you won’t be spammed or signed up to any mailing lists.

The only thing you will receive in your inbox is new blog entries. And if you don’t like the blog, well, you probably won’t like the zines either, seeing as I write both of them.

Competition ends on the 30th of August, when I will pick three lucky people from the subscriber list.

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Mont St Michel

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I went to Mont St Michel last week for the first time in years. It’s a medieval abbey on an island on the border between Normandy and Brittany, about an hour’s drive from my mum’s house in France. We went there a few times when I was a kid, and the last time I was there was in the late 90s on a school trip. It has dramatically changed since then.

There was something a bit seedy and cynical about the place in the 90s despite the spectacular town itself. Buses and cars drove over the causeway to the island, and parked in a decrepit carpark on the shore, which had a tendency to flood. As you made your way up through the snaking medieval street to the abbey at the top of the peak, there were endless shops selling cheap replica hunting knives, saucy postcards and boxes of firecrackers. It must have been a nightmare for teachers supervising school groups.

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New Twitter Account

I’ve recently spit my Twitter account into two new accounts, one private for friends and family, and one public one. When I started using twitter, it was very public orientated. Over the years though, quite a few of my friends have started using a public account for their work and a private account for discussions with friends. It felt uncomfortable replying to their private comments with my public account, and increasingly like I was mixing two separate things, so I’ve followed suit and created a public twitter account. This isn’t to say that I feel like you should never bring up anything political or difficult to behave “professionally”, but being firm and clear about where your own boundary between personal and public lies is also important. So here’s my new account- @EmmaFalconerArt

Microbe et Gasoil

I saw this recent Michel Gondry the other day. The Science of Sleep is one of my favourite films. Microbe et Gasoil is a lot more naturalistic than a lot of his other films, but it still has a lot of the same little touches. Two misfit 14 year old boys decide to build their own car. When it turns out to not be road legal, they turn it into a shed on wheels and go on a very slow road-trip round rural France, in the spirit of a Jacques Tati film. Lots of fun.

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This must be the place

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The past few weeks haven’t really given me time for blogging. I’ve been helping with house-clearances, writing a proposal for some freelance work I really wanted but didn’t get, and undergoing major dental work. I now have the next 10 weeks house-sitting in a small town at least an hour’s travel from anyone I know.

i’ve also been glued to the news far more than I’d like lately. The depressing news that police in the US are still able to shoot as many innocent black people as they like, with little consequence, and that plenty of people who think of themselves as Good People will do as many mental gymnastics as it takes to excuse them with stuff like “well that guy had three speeding tickets, so it was essentially fine really” makes you lose faith in humanity.

Domestically as well, UK politics has turned into a ridiculous soap opera where the writers insert as many bizarre plot turns as possible. You feel you can’t look away because you’ll suddenly miss something important, and that you suddenly find out you’re not a citizen any more or that the whole health service has been sold off or something else drastic. It’s exhausting to keep up with, and keeps throwing up ridiculous scenarios like Boris Johnson being Foreign Secretary (!!!) and the way that the central committee of the Labour Party is desperate to exclude the party members from being able to vote in anything. Buzzfeed of all places (!!) has two good summaries here: 1 and 2.

I was hoping for a quiet summer where not much happens. I suppose I have that in that the local train company has also gone into meltdown, so I can’t actually go anywhere or have friends who don’t have a car (ie all of those in London) visit right now.

Here’s some links to interesting things to distract yourself with:

Should a word have two meanings?

 

  1. Academy Fight SongMission of Burma
  2. You’re My Only HomeMagnetic Fields

  3. Love is Not LoveCate le Bon
    My three top new albums this year have all been by female solo artists, two of whom are Welsh, Cate le Bon’s Crab Day, Gwenno’s Y Dydd Olaf (the Last Day) and Artangels by Grimes. Crab Day is well worth checking out, combining influences from spooky 70s folk, Fleetwood Mac and Devo.
  4. Come on Let’s GoBroadcast
  5. Man on the MoonR.E.M.
  6. Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth? Minutemen
    The Minutemen have always come across as genuinely good people who genuinely loved playing together and actually lived according to their ethics and treated other people well. The We Jam Econo documentary is now free on Youtube.

  7. The Red Telephone Love
  8. Interstate 5Wedding Present

  9. Dawns Y Blaned DirionGwenno (Dance of the Kindly Planet)
  10. Golau ArallGwenno (Other Light)
    A Welsh-language electronica album based on a dystopian Welsh book.The lyrics and translations are available on the website.
  11. New SeedsBoards of Canada
  12. Come to DustBoards of Canada
    The finest soundtrack to post nuclear apocalypse there is.
  13. MetroBerlin
    I was reading an article on Stereogum from the Weird 90s series (well worth reading), where the writer was recalling a strange period of the late 90s where swing-revival stuff like the Cherry Popping Daddies was preferable to this song.
  14. Invisible SunPolice
    I don’t like the Police at all. So when I was listening to a radio show playing a retrospective of George Martin’s work and this came on, I was pleasantly surprised. A good story I read once about the Police was that at some point in the 80s at a Rolling Stones concert someone announced to Keith Richards that the police were here to see him. So he frantically got rid of all his drugs, and then in walked Sting.
  15. Who Be Lovin Me Santigold feat ILoveMakonnen
    The song could really do with more of Santigold herself, but I think the fact that ILoveMakonnen really can’t sing definitely adds something to the woozy sound.

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