Thursday, 31 July 2008

Dear Mr. Editor...

The blog has been a bit Latitude/BAD IDEA heavy this past fortnight, but I simply couldn't help posting this marvelous video of us doing our thing last weekend.

Check out the tune- it's almost as though it was written for us!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

There's a New Mag in Town

This is not the post I had originally intended. Initially I had desired to rave about a new free mag Susology, that has appeared on the shelves, well surfaces, of London’s trendiest shops this week. There’s a glut of free publications at the moment, and although they vary in quality and independence, you can’t really grumble, they’re free after all. But this beauty, it delighted me. It was slick, stylish and most importantly the editorial was innovative and well written. Here's an approximation of my original ideas:

"Wow, this looks good. The paper’s such high quality; that beautiful matt stuff that oozes luxury. With articles on guerrilla gardening, Blek Le Rat, and skateboarding in China, they’re targeting the young hipster market, but the journalism isn’t too obvious. Actually, it’s rather good.

The editorial team have had some pretty smart ideas as well. They’ve commissioned some fantastic artwork, including stand alone pieces from Monorex and Le Gun. Each editor has created a soundtrack to the issue, which they’ve displayed as a double page spread of individually hand-written cassette tapes. It feels personal, and you start to see the magazine as a project, and a labour of love.

Damn it, they’re even championing creative writing, as each issue will feature the work of a blossoming new writer/poet. The layout and typography is so innovative that it makes The Face look as dated as Cross Stitch Monthly. And the tag line is perfect: 'All that we ask is that you pay attention.' I certainly am."

But then it hit me. No adverts. A free magazine, with no advertising? Impossible. So then I started digging. It turns out that Suso is actually a soft drink, and although there is absolutely no mention of the beverage in the magazine, I guess the company's aim is that the reader's newly made association between 'susology' and 'cool' will help to shift more stock.

I admit, I was disappointed. It's cunning branding, truly inventive, but almost too sly for me to feel comfortable with it. As soon as I associated Susology with a product, other than the magazine itself, I immediately became suspicious, doubted it's editorial independence and felt duped. My vision of a team of young, creative editors listening to some hefty tracks as they nurtured their baby into print was shattered.

This doesn't mean I don't think Susology is a quality read. I still maintain that the writing is excellent (especially the pieces from BAD IDEA's Jean Hannah Edelstein) and the art direction is really exciting. I'm just wary that it's trying to sell me something, especially as they were doing it without my knowledge and consent. I'd love to think that I was just being cynical and that the editorial team (also responsible for an edgy blog) were supported by a forward-thinking and somewhat philanthropic corporation. But with suspicions that the "independent" Art & Music Magazine recently bought by the Saatchi gallery may have actually belonged to Saatchi all along, it's difficult to know where a branding agency ends and an objective publication begins.

Whether you feel Suso's methods are pioneering or just plain devious, the articles themselves are definitely worth a look. They'll even send you one for free! Just email

Artwork by Oliver Hydes for Susology.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Blogger's Delight

Ahoy there! My contribution to the BAD IDEA blog is now available to read here.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Good things come to those who write

Voyeurs of the world unite. Here's a copy of Issue 6 of BAD IDEA's Latitude confessional magazine (edited by yours truly) to satisfy your sneaky desires. It was a dark shift that produced this zine. Alcohol and the cover of nightfall gave shape to admissions of the blackest kind. Get help guys, or at least write a sordid autobiography!

If you like this one, you can read the other five editions on Keep your eye on the BAD IDEA blog for my account of the Saturday night shift. Fun times.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Dirty Secrets @ Lattitude

The BAD IDEA team donned our wellies and bravest countenances for Suffolk’s Latitude festival last weekend. Sun-worshiping, band-stalking and boozing aside, we were there to produce a confessional magazine for the festival’s ne’er-do-well writers. The Printing Press pumped out six issues over the weekend, filled with the kookiest, crudest, and funniest confessions that were scribed. We didn't offer advice or absolution, just bloody hilarious reading matter!

As far as the punters are concerned, the Printing Press works like this. They place their writing in the machine’s IN tray, a speedy hand snatches it away, and a few hours later, their dirty secrets are published in the zine, which they lovingly collect from the OUT tray. Little do they know (ha ha!) that behind the scenes were a team of chain-smoking, sleep-deprived editors, a laptop, a photocopier and a giant stapler. As the cogs of the press turned, we swiftly selected the choicest submissions, edited them up, laid them out, and then printed and bound the magazine.

The rag’s reception was phenomenal. Contributors came back every couple of hours to check our progress and when a new issue came off the press (often hours late!), we had to do our best to prevent a small scale riot.

Bad Idea’s photo maestro Sebastian Meyer captured the magic of the press in these snaps. Check out more of his amazing work here:

Monday, 14 July 2008


Your faithful pseudo-hack and procrastinator extraordinaire ventures to the big smoke this week to begin a month's internship at BAD IDEA magazine. Check back for fuck-ups, commuter moans and maybe some insight into the making of one of the hottest mags on the market. A bad idea? I hope not.


Thursday, 10 July 2008

The Story of India

Telling the tale of a country as ancient and massive as India is no easy feat. But distinguished TV historian and housewives’ crumpet, Michael Wood has succeeded in doing just that for his BBC series and book, The Story of India. Dressed in his trademark fuchsia shirt, Wood delighted the Chichester Festivities audience who came to hear him speak this week. The veteran travel broadcaster took an entranced audience through his favourite journey in India; the trip from the Kerala coast across the mountains to Tamil Nadu. His enthusiastic and sensuous descriptions were accompanied by his down to earth holiday snaps, taken during numerous trips he has made over the last three decades.

Wood’s narrative confidently married opulent descriptions of his Indian experience with details of the country's history and culture. He recounted dates, figures and names with such ease that his speech was more like a relaxed conversation rather than academic lecture. Enthusiastic at all times, most of the audience left with seriously itchy feet. Or maybe it was Michael rather than Mumbai that captured the predominantly female audience!

The book that accompanies the series delivers a portrait of the county in an equally fluid style. His text follows the very first nomadic inhabitants of the country all the way though to growth of India’s bustling cities. Wood’s rambling style of asides, anecdotes, myths, anthropological facts and vivid description make the book difficult to categorize but incredibly enjoyable. It flows like the monologue of an old friend. A pleasant journey indeed.

The Story of India is published by BBC Books, £8.99

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Lucha Libre

My pen's been a-wandering this week, straying from 'work' towards all manner of strange things. Too much Oddbox, methinks. Here's one of the places it ended up:

Thursday, 3 July 2008


Ellie and I ventured into deepest, darkest Broadmead last Saturday night to witness the launch the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology. The book is a collection of the top twenty submissions from the Prize's first year. The winning story, 'The River' is a moving account of the relationship between a granddaughter, her grandfather and the third party in their lives, the nearby river. Here's what Rebecca had to say about receiving the prize.

"The whole experience was terrific. Someone told me I did a double-take when my name was called out. I felt as if I was a character inside one of my own stories. Or, as if I was in one of those dreams we sometimes have that make us feel comfortable and at peace when we wake up in the morning. And I had the chance to see my daughter’s face in the crowd, all aglow and smiling, and that was very special to me.

Because I love teaching creative writing, and because Bristol is full of creative people, I’m hoping that more people who want to write, but just need a hand to get started, will join my course and begin their own journey into fiction writing."

Congratulations to Rebecca and to the lovely Joe Melia, the champion behind this literary adventure. To read my interview with Joe click here.

(Unfortunately Ellie and I drank too many glasses of free wine and arrived at Mother's Ruin ruined.)