So I moved back to Kent last week. (I’m knackered after travelling round Germany for three weeks and then moving house back-to-back). To Margate in particular. I grew up in Medway, a little way to the west, but left when I was eighteen to go to university, as it didn’t feel like there were any opportunities for me. Nearly fifteen years later, here I am. A lot has changed in that time. London is not a desirable place for young people to live any more. Not because of crime (going down all the time), or pollution, but because it’s so impossibly expensive and offers such a poor quality of life.
Last weekend I went up to Manchester to do a stall and run a Zine 101 workshop at the first Northwest Zinefest. I had the luxury of a day off work, and enough money to take the train rather than coach, and stay at a bed and breakfast. The last time I was in Manchester was well over a decade ago, and it was nice to have a whole weekend rather than rush to and from the event.
Today is the UK election, and while I dearly hope we get rid of the Tories and all their terrible policies tomorrow, I also have something exciting to announce.
For quite a while now, I’ve been part of the DIY Space for London co-op, working to open a non-profit, co-operatively run accessible music, art and general creativity & activism venue in London along the lines of Wharf Chambers in Leeds. Operating in London has raised its own unique challenges. Most projects of this nature in other places can find a building and have trouble raising the money. We had the opposite problem- we had an incredible amount of goodwill, and people kept giving us money, but we had trouble spending it. London is in the middle of an uncontrollable property boom, and we had immense trouble finding anywhere suitable. Places went immediately, had residential neighbours or plans to build flats in unsuitable places that would immediately result in noise complaints, had legal issues or wanted ridiculously huge deposits.
A little while ago we found a large industrial unit in SE London, just off the Old Kent Road (the cheapest Monopoly square in the UK edition). It’s ideal, being in an affordable area that isn’t in the middle of nowhere, having no residential neighbours, and being essentially a blank slate for us to do as we like with. The co-op have sat on the news until today though, because we had to wait until all the bureaucracy and legal aspects were handled, and we had the keys. Today we got the keys, so DIY Space for London is going to become a reality this summer. The blank slate aspect though means that we will need a lot of help with fitting it out before opening up. If you’re in London and want to help out, see the post on the website here for more details.
I’ll be tabling and running a zinemaking 101 workshop at the inaugural Northwest Zinefest in Manchester on the 29th of May at the Star and Garter, and having a nice mini-break in MCR and seeing friends. Check out the Facebook event and the website.
It’s organised in association with the Salford Zine Library, who have built up an excellent collection over the last few years. They are still looking for zine donations for the library- more details can be found here.
For the past few months I’ve been weighing up whether to stay in London or to leave. I’ve lived here since 2011. In that time I’ve been a part-time postgrad (and finished the course), done an interesting but mostly not well-paid assortment of jobs, and lived in an assortment of sublets and property guardianships. Since the end of 2013 I’ve lived in a property guardianship that’s unusually cheap, but not at all homely, but far too cheap to give up needlessly.
I used to do a lot of photography, but I don’t do half as much now, which is a bit of a pity. My flickr account (which I started in 2007) has 376 albums and 4976 photos. I thought I’d do some regular posts with photos from some of the older albums. I’ll tag them as “from the archives”, especially as a lot of them are from well before I started this blog, or moved it from blogger to wordpress. Here are some photos from a trip to Whitstable in January 2008. It was my birthday, and I went on a trip to the coast with my friend Bryony and our then boyfriends. I had this Kodak slide duplication film I’d got in a giant bag of expired film I’d got for 50p per roll a few years earlier, and kept in the freezer. I’m not sure if it was taken with a Lomo LCA or an Olympus XA2. I had both at the time. I still have them in a box under the bed, but they’re both slightly broken, because I got them very, very cheaply second-hand (I think they were both about £15). I should get round to fixing them at some point. I think they’re fixable. These pictures were cross processed in C41, and then scanned. The pictures on my flickr account are a little small by modern standards, but screens were smaller then, and storage space on Flickr limited. I still have the negatives filed away, anyway.
Bryony doing some beach-combing.
Not many updates recently, I’ve been really busy with university applications and DIY Space for London organisation (some exciting news to come from us on that very soon, once we’ve got certain things fixed in stone).
I went up to Sheffield again a few weeks ago for the zinefest, organised by my friends Bettie and Chella, and staying at Rebecca’s with Tukru. I think there must be something around Sheffield in the Spring that I’m horribly allergic to. Whenever I go up in March or April I have some kind of horrible reaction, yet when I’ve been up in the Autumn, no problem. Once when the bus went past Chesterfield, a nearby town, my whole face puffed up like a hamster and no amount of anti-histamines would deflate it, and was that way the whole weekend, spontaneously deflating again once I was clear of Derbyshire on the way home. I had no hamster face this time, but sinus pain and a nasty rash on my shoulders and nausea. Perhaps I’m allergic to steel. Nowhere else in the region seems to give me this problem. (It’s also sad because the zinefest venue has a slide, and I’ve never been able to go on it in any of the years I’ve been, it not being a good idea when you’re pukey or suffering from balance problems due to a giant swollen face and glands.)
So I wasn’t firing on all cylinders, and missed out on a friend’s birthday drinks, and didn’t get to hang out with people as much as I would have liked, but overall I still had a good time, and came home with a big bag of traded zines which I haven’t had time to read properly yet. Here’s some photos I took of the event and with links to the work of the excellent people in the pictures.
The next zine fair I’m tabling at is the NW Zinefest up in Manchester on the 30th of May.
This weekend I’m going up to Yorkshire to run a table and workshop at the Sheffield Zine Fest (Facebook event here) and see friends. I’ll have lots of issues of zines from both myself and Charlotte Richardson Andrews and some other goodies, and I’ll be running a workshop on getting started with zine-making (and my good pal Tukru will be running a hands-on minizine session).
The venue is in the centre of Sheffield, right next to the bus and train stations, and is disabled accessible. It also has an excellent slide and carpet that looks like astroturf. If you want to help promote the fair, there’s a whole load of different graphics for you to use here, designed by the lovely Chella, one of the organisers.
I often like to get some fresh air in my lunch break by walking along the canal near my work. There’s not a lot there, just some houseboats and a small lock, and a lot of lunchtime joggers and the odd person eating sandwiches on a sunny day. I’m a big fan of canals, and I think I’ve walked along pretty much the whole length of this one at various points.
(Christmas Steps in Bristol- the photos are all from my old phone, which turned out not to have the greatest camera)
I actually attended this funeral/memorial for children’s writer Diana Wynne Jones over 2 years ago. I had meant to write about it for a long time, but I didn’t want to write anything without having the programme of speakers from the event to hand, and it stubbornly disappeared until recently when I had a big clear out of papers (and faded with some print rubbed off after 2 years), so here it is.
Diana was my favourite writer growing up. A few years ago I made a zine about her books (you can see/order the zine here, and there will be a new reprinted/re-layed out edition very soon), and Diana was kind enough to answer my interview questions in great detail (you can read the interview in full here) and various people contributed essays. Sadly, I didn’t get the zine finished in time for Diana to see it, because she died of cancer. Terrible procrastinating.
The family had a private funeral, and then a year later had a public memorial in Bristol, where she had lived. An editor from one of Diana’s publishers named Sharyn November sent me an invitation, because she’d seen the zine, so I booked a cheap bus ticket and took myself off to Bristol. I considered inviting someone, but my then boyfriend had never read any of the books, and the two people I thought might be interested had both recently given birth (and one was living in Scotland). So I went alone.