My new book, a music biography based on the strange life and curious times of notorious UK band, Fat White Family, will be published in February 2022. I have co-written it with Lias Saoudi – the band’s lead singer – and have spent the past 18 months of lockdown interviewing, researching, writing, and stitching together the band’s extraordinary story.
Flashback: Parties For The People By The People is a new fold-out publication on Rough Trade Books that tells the story of the infamous Blackburn Acid House ‘parties’, the vital part this moment of counter-cultural history has played in the social, economic and cultural lives of the area itself, and more broadly, of the country as a whole.
Taking in the post-industrial landscape of the area, the impact of years of regressive politics, both local and national, the confluence of football hooligans, casuals, gang violence, and eventually, the dispersal of all that into the culture of the parties and the emergent ecstasy boom, this rendering of time and place is told through a combination of reportage, fiction, poetry and oral history by contributors including Adelle Stripe, Alex Zawadzki, Anna Wood, Balraj Singh, Dorothy, Fergal Kinney & Jamie Holman.
This fold-out set is made up of three pamphlets including, ‘A Place Called Bliss’, by Adelle Stripe – an anti-love story of two friends and their doomed attempt to escape their daily drudge via the ecstatic promise of Blackburn’s legendary parties in the neighbouring county. It is a shadow story of those lost weekends—a tale of frustrated desire and frustrated aspiration, where the small miracles of love and hedonistic transcendence appear all but impossible.
Pre-order direct at Rough Trade Books
I will be hosting an online Arvon non-fiction masterclass on September 9th 2021 on creative biographical writing. It is open to writers of all abilities. We’ll be looking at texts including Janet Malcolm, Michael Ondaatje, David Peace and Gordon Burn, plus a few exercises in research and writing across the two hour session.
As part of Arvon’s wider effort to increase participation in the arts, concessionary places are available for this course.
I have written a new short story on football and masculinity for the debut edition of Ambit Pop (243), guest edited by Fat White Family’s Lias Saoudi. This new strand of Ambit invites maverick artists to guest edit the magazine under their tradition of Poems, Stories, and Art.
Featuring an oulipo exchange with Rob Doyle, flash fiction from Benjamin Myers, and poetry from Jenni Fagan, Zaffar Kunial, Connor Seed, Jeremy Reed, Nina Power, Vida Adamczewski and Niall Griffiths, this new issue also includes art by Steven Allan, Anna McDowell, Neal Fox (Le Gun) and Wayne Horse.
The Ambit quarterly was (anti) established in 1959 by Dr Martin Bax to expand on the times. Editors including JG Ballard, Carol Ann Duffy and Eduardo Paolozzi published early work of many admired names, including David Hockney, William S Burroughs, Stevie Smith and Linton Kwesi Johnson.
Copies are available for £10 via Ambit’s website
(Feature image: Wayne Horse Alles Wird Gut, 2017)
I am very pleased to announced that Stay Alive Till ’75 is published today at Ration Books. The pocket-sized edition features ‘The Humber Star’, a poem commissioned by John Grant for Hull City of Culture 2017, a memoir in make-up called ‘4 Ombres Dior’, and an extended essay of creative non-fiction set on the fringes of a religious cult in a fading East Yorkshire seaside town.
The book is available to buy direct from Ration Books, alongside new writing by Bill Drummond and Benjamin Myers.
Visit their website for further info.
Back in 2015, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the BBC broadcast of Delia Derbyshire and Barry Bermange’s Inventions For Radio: The Dreams, Sheffield’s Eccentronic Research Council released their own super-limited edition cassette soundtracking the recalled dreams (and nightmares) of friends, artists, actors, musicians, scientists, poets and filmmakers. The release was called The Dreamcatcher Tapes Volume 1. Five years on, and with a large part of the planet under lockdown and with nowhere to go but within their imagination, the ERC put a call out once again to music collaborators, nurses, teachers, truck drivers, writers, journalists and shop workers to upon waking, record their dreams straight into their phones and to then send them to the ERC to soundtrack. And thus, Volume 2 of The Dreamcatcher Tapes was born!
Across the two volumes there’s film maker Carol Morley, Andy Votel from Finders Keepers records, John Doran from The Quietus (who also wrote the albums brilliant sleeve notes), acclaimed writer Benjamin Myers, musicians such as Evangeline Ling from the group Audiobooks, Lias Saoudi from Fat White Family, Sidonie from The Orielles, journalists /writers Wyndham Wallace and Daniel Dylan Wray amongst a whole array of musician friends, eccentrics and people with actual proper jobs.
I was delighted to be asked to contribute a lockdown dream to this collection.
I have written a feature on the literary culture of Hebden Bridge in this weekend’s Yorkshire Post: ‘Aside from the proliferation of alternative lifestyles, its hordes of tourists, flooding incidents, or the title of ‘UK’s lesbian capital’, the small market town of Hebden Bridge has become renowned as an unlikely centre for literary culture in the North of England…’
It’s time for the annual end-of-year musings at Caught by the River, known as Shadows and Reflections. Since so many of our lives have been lived in thematic overlap this year, they’ve asked their contributors and friends to focus on the small, strange and specific as they look back over the last 12 months. Today it’s my turn to discuss a thwarted Algerian trip and the discovery of this beautiful country’s extraordinary musical heritage…
“As ‘Algeria’ had become my Mastermind subject this year, I devoted each spare hour to reading books on its history, the war of independence, or watching films, and reading its translated literature. When I wandered through Hathershelf woods in my hometown of Mytholmroyd each day, sheltering from pouring rain in wellington boots and fingerless gloves, my mind constantly wandered to that place I was supposed to be heading, rather than the one I was currently standing in, with its rotting leaves, knee-high bogs and vicious westerly winds that emptied their sodden contents above my head.”
It’s 30 years since the life of Andrea Dunbar was cut tragically short. I have written a feature for the Yorkshire Post reflecting on her plays and legacy.
The article is paywalled, but you can register for one free view a month by clicking the link below…
I have set up a new author page on Bookshop.org that contains links to all of my books that are currently in print (including anthologies etc) and a few books lists to whet the appetite such as Bitter Northern Classics, Best Music Books, Books of the Year 2020, Favourite Female Authors and 3:AM, Offbeat & Brutalist Writers.
Bookshop is a new online store for independent bookshops in the UK that allows readers to order directly through them and for booksellers to keep a healthy percentage of the sale. Please support your local bookshop by searching for them on the website, then selecting your lockdown/xmas books through the search engine. You can read more about it here.
Happy reading, comrades!