Some recent writing

Pluralistic ignorance and the modern condition – on social phycology and group behaviour.

Ol’ Red Eyes: Marxist TV reviews – a tumblr full of the Marxist television writing I’ve been commissioned to do recently.

Den Pen’s Shoes – on people who pretend to be dead authors on Twitter.

An interview with Stephen Duffy of the Lilac Time.

Plenty of stuff collected on Pop and Politics, including this on the death of the centrist protest vote.

By and about

There was a piece featuring me and the sale of BiNS on the BBC News site last week. As ever with ‘news’ I felt the interesting stuff didn’t make it to the actual article and in fact I’m sure I didn’t say anything about gaps quite like that. I thought what I said was a bit more like this tweet:

But that’s the way it goes.

There’s also two writing projects that I’ve contibuted to over the last few days. One is 280 stops—a sort of Internet piece of collaborative fiction. I’ll let Jon Hickman explain:

“This is a tribute to two wonderful things: the 11 bus route which runs through Birmingham (oh, and bits of Solihull and Sandwell), and Geoff Ryman’s novel/website 253.”

The other is not fictional at all. An idea by Jez Collins and Craig Hamilton‘101 Things Birmingham Gave the World’ is a tumblr that celebrates Birmingham’s impact on World Culture.

Fused – Special edition

Fused magazine, which (as well as sister publication Area) I’ve done stuff for in the past, has just released a very special edition. It’s thick, beautiful and perfect bound and it’s the first volume of what they’re calling the second volume of the mag. It’s got some fantastic photography and illustrations and rather wonderfully for me three of the best interviews I’ve ever done. Read what happened when I talked to bass-god Peter Hook, Barney out of noisecore legends Napalm Death and David Shrigley who’s one of may favourite artists.


Buy it for a fiver, here.

You can read it online too, here.

Paperback Collator

Poorly Collected Works 2010-11 is the title of an eBook I pulled together at the end of last year. It sold a few, and jumped into the Amazon charts when it was part of a promotion, but was more of an experiment. In continuing experimentation, now Createspace is working with Amazon UK I made it into a real paperback too. It’s available to buy now at a cheapish price.

It does contain a few treats not in the similar e-book—amongst them a previously unpublished interview with Barney from the grindcore band Napalm Death, a few pieces focussed on the referendum for an elected mayor that was held in Birmingham in the early part of the year, and excitingly I think a small piece of my half of Pier Review—that real book that I’m writing that will come out sooner rather than later.

Createspace also does DVDs/film downloads as well as books—it’s a fairly simple way of creating work and self publishing. You need to fiddle a little with their formatting and do a lot of checking, but it’s easy enough.

Spreading the word about the mayoral referendum

I’ve been supporting the Yes campaign for an elected mayor in Birmingham, and one of the big issues is awareness that the referendum is even happening (one poll said less than 40% knew) and especially when you think of younger voters. So it was really cool of local culture guide Area magazine to let me write an article for the April issue. I tried to keep it funny, neutral and relevant. Did I succeed? Have a read here:


Twitizen Kane

Yesterday, I tried the Twitpanto method on “the greatest film ever made”. As part of  ‘Yarn presents Five Stories High’ at Flatpack Festival, I re-interpreted around ten minutes of Citizen Kane. It was a tight deadline, so plans to do something really different fell behind just writing a script and getting together a few ‘actors’ I could trust.

In a live setting I was interested in how the audience would understand the language of the Twitter feed just being projected on the wall. I hoped to get heckles and confusing stuff too.

The script, is here. We got ‘moved on’ (for reasons of time I suspect) just before the bit about the principles, which I thought was the crux of it. Never mind.

I’m not sure everyone got what was going on but this quick review from another participant means that at least someone did:

[blockquote]”obviously, members of the audience start tweeting using the hashtag, and it was just hilarious. And silent, and awkward, but in a brilliant way.”[/blockquote]

The weekend’s other Flatpack activity for me was to chair a Q&A with Lawrence (ex of Felt etc), that was both more conventional and a little better received I think. Great fun, and really nice to meet a musical hero.

NewsJack — writing comedy quickly

I like to think I’m an amusing writer, and that I can think quickly. Doing a radio show for a couple of years I think demonstrated that, and I’ve tried my hand at stand-up comedy. But until recently, apart from the odd Twitter witticism  I’d not really tried writing topical comedy. BBC Radio Four Extra’s NewsJack is one of the few radio shows that has an open submissions policy, meaning that anyone can send in jokes and sketches and maybe get on and then get paid for them. I’ve had a few near misses that made it to the recording but not the edit, as they’re topical they’re disposable really so I wouldn’t share them. But this one from this week has a little bit of longevity so I thought I’d pop it up here. Hope it makes you chuckle.

NewsJack the Jung Ones

Buy, or get free, some ebooks I’ve written

I’ve been experimenting with ebook publishing, once the sheer hellish pain of writing something you’re happy with is over the format, upload and sales part is fairly easy. Well, when I say sales I mean ‘putting on sale’ rather than getting people to buy them… that’s a whole other story.

I’ve got two ‘books’ available at the moment:

Poorly Collected Works 2010-11

A collection of writing from various sources. 20,000 odd words from the last year or so, culled from blogs, papers, mags and Dirty Bristow (the literary magazine I founded and edit).

“Exclusively contains all the grammatical errors and jokes edited out by original publishers. It’s a chance to pay money to read what you can for free if you search it all out individually.”

Concrete and Cocktails: a journey to Birmingham’s glitter-stained independent heart.

Can you drink in all of Birmingham city centre’s independent hostelries in one day? Yes of course, although it might not be sensible.

An unchained psychogeographic adventure from the editors of Dirty Bristow: Concrete and Cocktails: a journey to Birmingham’s glitter-stained independent heart.

Concrete and Cocktails free on iTunes. And free on other formats too.

Pier Review review

I’m currently knee deep in postcards, books about the seaside and still have sand in my good pumps. It’s nearly six months since I spent two weeks traveling around all of England and Wales’s surviving seaside pleasure piers and we’re about halfway through writing the book. It’s hard going, but fun. Here’s the picture side of every postcard we sent (one of each) to each of our funders—the trip was paid for by around thirty people, all of whom are awaiting publication with anticipation I hope.

But what was it about? Well, we were lucky enough to get the chance to talk to the great Andrew Collins and Josie Long on 6 Music, and that’s as good an introduction as any is likely to be.

Listen to Pier Review on 6 Music 

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And we followed it up a week later with another slot: 

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And we’ve also made our secret blog open to all, you can read some behind-the-scenes stuff now.

Find our more and sign up at Pier Review dot co dot uk.