Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Folk me

Another Cambridge Folk Festival passes us by and it's been a corker again. Some great headliners this year including Joan Armatrading, Clannad, June Tabor, Richard Thompson, Martin Simpson, The Unthanks, Seth Lakeman and The Proclaimers who were, as you'd expect, fantastic. My top act this year, however, was The Treacherous Orchestra who were astoundingly talented and wonderful to watch. here's a taste:

I was also very taken with the virtuosity of Lau (who have an album out with the divine Karine Polwart soon), Karine herself of course, Ross Ainslie and Jarleth Henderson and Juju.

Also worthy of note, and new to me, were The Staves; three sisters from Watford who sing like angels. I will seek their music out.

Roll on next year! (And I can't wait to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain in Windsor this September). Smiley face.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Dash it all Holmes!

I wrote this two page Holmes spoof - illustrated brilliantly by James Murphy - back in 2002 for the Tripwire 10th Anniversary Annual. How extraordinary that we're now at the 20th anniversary. If you want a copy of the Tripwire 20th Anniversary Annual for the UK's best comic and film review magazine, visit here. Click on the images to make them bigger (and more readable for people wit eyes like mine).

Friday, 27 July 2012

Ig's amost here ...

Here's the first promo for my good friend Marc Abraham's new book This is Improbable, which comes out in September.

Marc will be over in the UK to promote the book in a month or so and intends to put on some events. I will almost certainly be reading or speaking at one of them.

Marc, as you may or may not know, is the founder and coordinator of the annual Ig Nobel Prizes, awarded for 'Science that makes you laugh, then makes you think'. You can read all about them here. And you can watch the Ig Nobel London event that took place earlier this year by clicking here and here. I was part of that and it was tremendous fun as always. 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Thursday Guest Blogger - Darren Goldsmith Part 2

Welcome to this week's Thursday guest blog, an occasional series of discussions, opinion pieces and reviews. This week, another well-written, heartfelt and searingly honest guest post by writer, musician and artist Darren Goldsmith.


At the end of 2006, I fell ill. It was my own fault. Too many late nights, not enough sleep, not eating properly. Stress at work. We’ve all done it but I took it to the extreme… then out the other side. And kept going. On average, I’d been getting about 10-12 hours per week. Yes, you read that correctly. Per week. And I did this for about 6 months.

At some point, no matter how strong you feel, no matter the few hours of kip (or calories) you think you need, your body will decide to do something about it. In my case, I collapsed. Nervous exhaustion. Everything hurt. Even my hair. My body felt battered. My vision was blurred. I couldn’t speak properly. Couldn’t think straight. Understandably, I was pretty worried but stupidly assumed I was just ‘a bit run down’. I thought a few days’ (a week at most) rest would solve it.

After said rest, instead of feeling better, however, I felt worse. On top of everything else, I started to experience dizziness, light-headedness and feelings of disassociation. The doctor checked me over and said it was probably some form of Labyrinthitis, even though I wasn’t presenting classic symptoms. She gave me a prescription for some pills to nullify the motion-sickness and told me it could take up to 3 weeks to clear up.

Part of the problem is I worry about my health. I always have. Not the physical pain stuff - I can handle that just fine - but wooziness, dizziness, light-headedness… call it what you want, that stuff freaks me out. So, I took the pills, which made me feel more nauseous than I was before and 3 weeks later nothing had changed. I started panicking about my condition.

I’ve suffered panic attacks since I was about 5 years old (that’s another story). Not the general feelings of dread or worry that a lot of people call panic, but the hyperventilating, chest pains, think-you’re-going-to-die sort. Awful. And they can come out of the blue, even if you’re feeling OK. In the last ten years, I’ve managed to crack it and I can prevent a full-blown one occurring. During this period, however, with no reserve of energy to draw on, they were coming thick and fast.

I’d wake in the morning, dizzy and sick. Weak. I couldn’t stand without feeling I was going to fall over. It was like being on the deck of a boat in stormy seas. I’d hear screaming in my head. My own voice… unintelligible shouts. I had typical symptoms of disassociation - not feeling as if I was ‘here’ or that anything was real. Everything looked and sounded wrong, like I was underwater. Days and weeks of this. Not able to work, not able to function properly at all. It then stretched into months. Besides work, I couldn’t maintain any kind of social calendar. My friends dropped off the radar. I became agoraphobic and avoided social situations. Not because I was scared of the outside or people, but because of how dizzy those situations made me feel. All the things I’d taken for granted, like walking in a straight line… driving, watching TV (especially fast motion), pubs, restaurants, train journeys. None of those things were possible, without some violent adverse reaction.

To make matters worse, I’d checked up on my condition online. Trust me. Never. Do. This. I became convinced I had contracted something fatal or near to it. A brain tumour, Ménière’s disease… multiple sclerosis. All the horrible ways in which the body can break down and fail. The symptoms were identical, you see. Or so I thought.

I had umpteen tests. All of which came back negative. I was put on beta blockers to help keep me calm but they only made me feel even stranger. A specialist performed yet more tests and I had a brain scan. He told me the only reason I was feeling this way was stress and anxiety. There was absolutely nothing physically wrong with me. He gave me some exercises to do, which helped me with my balance. After an evaluation with a psychiatrist, I had sessions with a £200 per hour psychologist. And entered a period of enforced rest. I didn’t think any of this was working at the start but, gradually, over the course of 8 months or so, I started to feel more human. I stopped thinking I was going to die. I recovered.

For a period of two years after, I felt good. I still had the odd wobble here and there but nothing serious, nothing lasting. Then at the end of 2010, as a result of trying to get a novel written, I got into the same bad habits. Now, no one in their right mind would have done that to themselves twice, right? But that’s exactly what I did. I overworked. I didn’t sleep. Didn’t eat properly. Perhaps I thought, having gone through it once, I had become immune or something. I’m shaking my head in sheer disbelief while typing this.

So, for pretty much most of 2011, I suffered the same symptoms. However, this time I was determined it wouldn’t stop me getting on with my life. Despite feeling utterly horrid, I did manage to carry on pretty much as normal. Knowing that rest was essential, I made sure I got some. Because food was essential (who knew?) I ate properly. I tried to attend more social events and so on. Stress and anxiety were still high though and the dizziness and disassociation were still very much present. After another round of doctors’ appointments, I was sent for some further counselling. To be honest, I wasn’t confident this would work. I’d got it into my head that the way I felt, especially since all my symptoms had come back, was now a permanent thing.

The counsellor, like the psychologist before, used a method called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, for short. If you Google this, use the long form otherwise you might find sites that offer… erm, therapy of another kind altogether! Anyway, I didn’t feel the sessions in 2008 with the psychologist had been that successful - my recovery was glacial, and didn’t appear to be inline with any of the treatment – so I wasn’t expecting much from this new batch. Imagine my surprise then, when after the very first session, I felt better. It’s hard to describe. I knew (and it had been explained to me) that I had a long and bumpy road ahead to full recovery but somehow I felt… lighter. For the first time in several years, there was actual relief, as opposed to suppressed anxiety and false hope. I have no idea why this counsellor worked when I felt the psychologist didn’t. Perhaps it was because I was more receptive to the treatment at that point. Perhaps how she conducted the sessions just clicked for me.

As expected, it did take several months but I was discharged at the beginning of 2012 and have felt great ever since. I do still get the odd day when I don’t feel quite right (who doesn’t?) but, as a result of the therapy, I now have a set of tools that I can use to counter symptoms of stress and anxiety. I won’t go into the specifics of the treatment here, not because it’s private - because I’m perfectly willing to share if anyone asks - but because if you feel you might benefit from this kind of therapy, it would be much better to speak to your GP. And I’ve already written far too many words.

There’s a stigma surrounding mental health. If you succumb to any one of the number of issues, it’s perceived as a weakness, rather than an illness. Even some of my friends… those I considered to be good friends, reacted strangely (and badly) to what I was going through. I’d like to think this post helps dissolve some of that stigma but I suspect not. It’s hard to understand something you can’t see or haven’t experienced for yourself.

If you are experiencing mental heath issues, anything from anxiety/panic attacks through to depression, please… don’t feel alone. Don’t feel embarrassed. Speak to a professional. The route back to feeling better may be hard and long but there is plenty of help available.

There are two things I’d like to sum up with. One is that although I’d paid for the psychologist in 2008 (via a work insurance), the latter CBT sessions in 2011 were available completely free on the NHS. I couldn’t have afforded this treatment, as it happens, so I find it very hard to hear of essential services being closed down or that our wonderful health service may be carved up. What will happen to those, like me, who aren’t able to pay for healthcare?

The second is another thank you to my wonderful wife, Hayley, who was an absolute rock throughout the whole thing. I hate to think about what I put her through. I could see the distress and pain my illness caused. Yet she was, as always, wonderfully balanced and patient. And full of good humour. And love.



The content of guest blogposts do not necessarily reflect my views (although they often do) and are the views of the writer alone. Fancy being the next Thursday guest blogger? Drop me line at stevyncolgan@mac.com or tweet me @stevyncolgan.

Monday, 23 July 2012


Scientists have 'taken a rat apart and rebuilt it as a jellyfish'. Look at this extraordinary footage:

This 'medusoid' is actually an artificial organism made from silicone and muscle cells removed from a rat's heart. When placed in an electric field, it pulses and swims exactly like its living counterpart.

'Morphologically, we’ve built a jellyfish. Functionally, we’ve built a jellyfish. Genetically, this thing is a rat,' says Kit Parker, a biophysicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the work. You can read the full story by clicking here.

Final Week of Emperor Yes and Friends Exhibition

It all ends on the 29th folks so do go along and have a look at the art exhibition if you can.

It's at the old Top Office Machines premises at 133 Bethnal Green Road, E2 7DG (Nearest tube station is Shoreditch High Street but it's just a 10 min walk from Liverpool Street station too). Map here). Facebook page is here.

Some top art on display ... including two of mine (see them here).

If you can't make it, you can view the entire catalogue of artworks here.

One of the most uplifting videos I've seen in months

The Earth at night from the International Space Station. Gloriously beautiful.

View from the ISS at Night from Knate Myers on Vimeo.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The tuck stops here

In a few weeks I'll be 51. I have no idea how this has happened as I'm pretty convinced that I should be about 26. Time is racing past on rocket shoes and every so often I have one of those 'WTF?' moments when I realise things like Titanic came out 15 years ago and Freddie Mercury has been dead for 22 years. WTF??

Mention of Freddie Mercury also reminds me that 1990 was also the year that my dad died of a sudden and wholly unexpected heart attack. He was 51, the same age that I will be on August 11th. And, as I've written about in previous posts, it still hasn't quite sunk in that I will soon be older than he ever was.

Yep, that's him on the left at the age of 50 and me on the right at the same age. And who looks the healthiest? The clue is in the number of chins.

The idea that I will soon be older than Dad ever was is unsettling. Firstly, it forces me to realise my true age. In my head, Dad is an older man, beardy, grey and mature. In my head I'm in my 20s and still have a chance at being the saviour of rock and roll. It's something of a smack in the jowls to suddenly realise that anyone who is in their 20s probably now sees me as an old man. Sheesh. That's my ladykiller days gone for a burton.

The second thing that reality twats me with is mortality. I don't want to die quite yet. I've got lots to do. Hell, I've never even been to New York, one of my great ambitions that I've never quite had the time, money or opportunity to fulfil. And yet, what am I doing towards lengthening my life? Not very much I'm afraid. Yes, I packed in smoking the same year that Dad died. And yes, I no longer do the silly dangerous Jackass type things that I used to do. But I am unfit and hugely overweight. And that isn't good. People say to me, 'Ah, stop worrying! Life's too short. You could be hit by a car tomorrow!' To them I say, 'But there's no sense it making it even shorter is there? And, while I could get knocked down by a car, I increase the likelihood if I act recklessly. By carrying all this excess weight, I'm practically lying across the fecking carriageway.' All of this means that I knew, with utter certainty, that I needed to lose weight. But there was always that party or that event or that dinner invite that I conveniently used to sabotage my plans.

And then, two things happened. The first was that my eldest daughter Sarah (above) got married. And when the wedding photos came back, I felt awful. There she is, looking gorgeously glamorous and princess-like. And there's me, looking like a dugong stuffed into a suit. And the fattest dugong in the river at that. It almost made me feel as if I'd ruined her wedding photos (believe me, there are far worse than the one above - especially when I'm sat down and the belly gets to spread itself). And then, about a week ago, the BBC added to my shame. I saw this link was buzzing around Twitter and decided to follow it as it looked interesting. It took me to part of the BBC News website where you can find out how you stack up against people elsewhere in the world in terms of your Body Mass Index (BMI); your height to weight ratio. I popped my details into the boxes fully expecting to be told that, at 5'10" and 19st 6lbs, that I was morbidly obese and probably American (no offence intended to my many American chums but obesity is even more of an epidemic in the USA than here. It takes a food-heavy country to make a show like Man versus Food when kids are starving to death just across the sea). What came back was 100% more damning.

I was told that I have a BMI of 39 and was most like a person from Micronesia. But, more than that, I was also told that 'You have a higher BMI than 100% of males aged 45-59 in your country' and 'You have a higher BMI than 100% of males aged 45-59 in the world'. Wow. I am, apparently, one of the fattest people on Earth. And, just to add another dollop of insult to injury, I was reliably informed that, 'If everyone in the world had the same BMI as you, it would add 185,216,897 tonnes to the total weight of the world's population.'  As you can probably imagine, this news filled me with joy. Or it would have done if I wasn't quite so full of fat. Several days of self-loathing followed these revelations. But self-loathing takes energy and I figured it might be more useful to channel it all into positive action. And so, I decided that the weight must go.

The last time I felt this bad was in 2006 and I lost six stones. The 'before and after shots' show me when I was at my heaviest (21st 3lbs) and after the six stone loss. I got down to 15st ... which, scarily, was still at least two stones heavier than I should be. For my height, weight and build I should be around 12 to 13st. That means that I have 7st 6lb to lose. That's a total of 104lbs I have to shed. Daunting, no? But not undoable. I know that because I've done it before. The thing I have to do this time is not put it all on again afterwards. This is, I believe, my last chance at redemption. Weight loss becomes harder as you get older and if I don't do this now, I probably never will and my next rapid weight loss will be in a box six feet below the sod.

I trained to be a chef in my teens (before becoming a cop) and I understand food and its effects on the body. I also understand all of the lies and tricks that the food industry uses to lure us to buy. I watch TV shows that educate me about food - just recently, the Channel 4 Dispatches programme on the '5 per day' scheme, and BBC2's excellent three part The Men who made us Fat were required viewing. They absolutely vindicated what I've known for years.

So I've designed a diet for myself that is healthy, filling and tasty. And it's working. I started on Friday 13th (auspicious?) and now, a week later, I've already lost 6lbs. I know that I won't continue to lose at the rate of 1lb per day - this is mostly fat around my liver that I'm shifting to begin with. Realistically, I'm looking at 2lbs per week. That may not sound like a lot but, if you think about it, 2lbs is four blocks of butter. That's pretty substantial. It's going to take me over a year to lose my tonnage but I am focused and I will do it. After all, a year will fly by (Titanic was 15 years ago remember? Fifteen! It feels like last year). I've also upped my exercise with long walks and frequent visits to the Wii in my lounge. My 'Mii' is curiously accurate:

So, I apologise now if I'm grumpier than usual. Food and drink are pretty much the only vices I have left and I love cooking, good ale and dinner parties. It's taking a little while to adapt to a new lifestyle. It's also taking time for my enormous body to get used to the new chemical balance and the lack of 'happy' endorphins I'd usually get from things like wine, chocolate and beer. I was getting so curmudgeonly in fact that I decided to take a break from Twitter; I don't want to piss off the lovely people who, for reasons known only to themselves, choose to follow me. I'm grateful to them and have no wish to make them rue their decision. My mood is slowly improving, the scales are making me smile and I'll be back soon; a few weeks maybe.

Meanwhile, there's that 51st birthday to look forward to. And, if I have anything to do with it, many more after that.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Even more things you Pesky Kids didn't know about cartoon/animated characters

If you enjoyed 10 Things you Meddling Kids didn't know about Scooby Doo and 10 more Things you Pesky Kids didn't know about Cartoon Characters, then you'll enjoy this little update:

1. The Cookie Monster's real name is Sid.

2. Hello Kitty's surname is White.

3. Toy Story's Woody is called Sheriff Woody Pride.

4. Winnie the Pooh's actual name is Edward Bear.

5. The 'Comic Book Guy' from The Simpsons is called Jeff Albertson.

6. Mr Snuffleupagus's first name is Aloysius.

7. Peppermint Patty from Peanuts is actually called Patricia Reichardt.

8. That poor black cat who always gets white paint on her and then attracts the amorous attentions of Pepe le Pew is called Penelope.

9.Casper the Friendly Ghost's surname (when he was alive) was McFadden.

10. Snoopy's birthday is October 2nd. He has seven siblings called Andy, Belle, Marbles, Olaf, Molly, Rover and Spike.

Editors! Be vigil, though!

It used to be quite hard to find genuinely bad books. Traditional publishing houses have commissioners and editors and critical readers who sift the wheat from the chaff. The odd corker slipped through now and again but it was a rarity.

But the landscape of publishing is changing rapidly. The arrival of affordable digital printing now means that anyone can publish a book. So-called 'vanity publishing' (I prefer the less judgemental term 'self-publishing') is on the increase and companies like Lulu, Café Press, Blurb and Authorhouse now provide a complete service from manuscript to marketing and can organise print runs from one to a million copies if you’re willing to pay. You can also post an e-book directly to Amazon or iTunes; a fact that's had a huge injection of publicity since 50 Shades of Grey came out. All of which means that publishing is now a realistic and affordable option for everyone. It's a good thing. But it's also a bad thing because the floodgates have been opened and there are no filters in place.

Writers need good editors. Just pick up a newspaper or magazine today and count the number of errors. Mistakes have increased dramatically in the past few years because cost-cutting has led to the laying off of sub-editors in their droves. Without editors, we're utterly reliant on the author who may be a wonderfully imaginative storyteller but doesn't necessarily have a good grasp of proper grammar, spelling and syntax. Without editors the author may miss a glaring plot-hole or continuity error; as I know from experience, it's very easy to become so close to a project, so deeply involved, that you can't see something that's staring you in the face. I once wrote a novel and gave it out to several critical readers who all pointed out the same omission regarding one of my characters. I'd created an entire back story and biography for the character. I'd also had a very clear idea in my head what they looked like but hadn't described them as fully as I should. Consequently, when something happens later that relates to his son having lost an eye as a child, my editors pointed out that I hadn't mentioned that before. It was a silly mistake on my part. Thank goodness for editors.

All of which brings me to the point of this ramble. I know that many people who read this blog are writers or budding writers. What I'm saying to you is, take advantage of new media. Get your book out any way you can. But do let people read it first: people you know who read, who know books; people who are good writers themselves; people with good English skills; people you know well enough that they can be honest and constructively critical with you. I do it all the time and it is invaluable.

But let me show you what happens if you don't.

Back in 1997, I was asked to paint the front cover of a book. The book was called The Wayfarer: Bilbabalbabul and it was by a man called Aaron Jones. How he'd heard of me I don't know. Why he chose me is even more of a mystery. I was a cartoonist and illustrator back then - I've only really learned to paint in the past couple of years and I'm still learning. However, he started talking some quite decent money so I said yes, callow money-grubber that I am. Naturally I wanted to read the book to find suitable inspiration for the painting, so the reclusive Mr Jones sent me a copy of the manuscript via his printers (I never got to meet the man) and a copy of his previous book Souls of the Universe.

The back cover blurb for the book told me this:

‘He had heard of the great immortal city; the citadel of mystery and foreboding. It was the fabulous infamous city all outsiders feared to enter. Yet the bold wayfarer became obsessed by its existence, thus he sought to find it. On his far journeys he would confront all evil obstacles, encounter the wizards of science, the wondrous characters; wild and weird communities. He visited the inns and taverns, braved the deep forests, and he relished the damsels. But he knew he must one day find and behold the phenomenon; thence brazenly enter into the citadel of Bilbabalbabul.’

This was English of a kind I'd not really encountered before. I started to read the manuscript. The book begins with a description of the Middle Earth-like world of Gyral the Tall Elf:

‘This was a world known by so many names in aeons past, whose indigenous life intelligence had evolved through millions of years; through epochs of profound science and technology, through an age when they had mastered space travel; ventured to the far stars and had brought back many alien things. Super minerals and materials, life forms of numerous kinds; thus had created a world of time resilient synthetics; a world of hybrids, of humans; a mixture of countless breeds gone wild.’

Having set the scene, Jones then goes on to tell the tale of Gyral the Tall Elf, his flatulent talking mount Lollyvok, and their adventures in the grimly mysterious and extraordinarily named city of Bilbabalbabul. He does so with a disregard for English grammar and punctuation that borders on genius. He sprinkles semicolons around like sawdust on a Hobbit’s floor and happily substitutes synonyms without realising that he’s swapped from verb to noun or vice versa or has used a word completely out of context. The result is curiously mangled sentences like:

‘He climbed the hill for to get a better vista.’

'Thus I reassert you; my house, my ladies, viands and refreshments are yours.’

‘You have style in your mode.’

And the delicious:

‘He is diseased beyond repair’.

The book was an extraordinary read. Among my favourite pieces of prose are these treasures:

‘And one room in his grange was said to be filled with a great jumble of curios, antiques, preserved ancient books of wizardry, incantations, and tales of bygone aeons, and everything.’

'The effeminate albino pursed his thick lips in that certain way to suggest he was male, but homosexual.’

‘Gyral was ever vigil with shifty eyes, hand ready with sword. He then heard voices again and saw something shifting among further Orcle trunks. He just kept walking until he came to a clearing. And nothing happened.’

'He then looked on to his destination again, tilted his feather billed hat, Lollyvok broke wind, and off they shuffled under the frowning red sun’.

And my personal favourite:

‘A couple of pigmy beings then came out from a hut, hobbling in that odd swaying simian manner. In fact they looked like pigmy simians.’

Jones self-published the book and kindly sent me a copy. He later released an expanded second edition with over 10,000 additional words. And then, either because the edition sold out (I have no idea of the size of the print run) or, more likely, he’d given them all away, he ordered a third print run and expanded the book still further. This third edition is twice the size of the first. I suspect that Jones may have run out of money by this time though as the cover of the third edition is monochrome rather than full colour.

You can still get copies of The Wayfarer: Bilbabalbabul through outlets like Abebooks and it still has a listing on Amazon. I was surprised to see myself credited as the illustrator (under the nom de plume of Stephen Meryk Colgan - I was still experimenting) as I only painted the cover. And I didn’t do a terribly good job of that. But it was the best I could do at the time and Mr Jones was massively happy with it, apparently. But I say to you now – buy it while you can. It will become a cult classic I’m sure.

But, to be serious for a moment, as much as I love the book, this episode in my life is tinged with regret. I wish I'd had the balls to tell the man that his book was full of mistakes. I wish I'd known him well enough to point out the obvious flaws. But I was just the cover artist; I didn't ever meet him. If anyone did ever get to read it and feedback to him, he obviously ignored it. I suspect no one but me got to read it before it was published. And that's a great shame. I'm not sure the book would ever have been a good book but it would have been a better book with some editing. As it stands, it's so laughably bad that it's unintentionally hilarious.

If it seems like I am attacking Aaron Jones, rest assured I’m not. I think that the book is brilliant in its naivety. It is apparent to anyone who reads The Wayfarer: Bilbabalbabul that Aaron Jones is not a gifted writer but he loves to write. You can feel his passion and you cannot fault the man’s self-belief. And that’s the whole point isn't it? If you love to write then you should write. If it brings you joy, write all the time. And if you desperately want to get published and can't do it by conventional means, there are more avenues available to you than at any time in history. Just make sure you have someone edit it with you before you put it out.

I hope that Aaron Jones is still writing. I hope that seeing his book in print brought him joy. Because that would mean that, despite all of the knock backs and rejections, his passion is undimmed.

Good for him. There's a lesson there for us all.

For more on the world of self-publishing, see my previous posts The worst book ever written and Naked came the spoof.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

25 other uses for my new book (besides being a corking good read)

The hardback edition of my new book, Constable Colgan’s Connectoscope, costs just £20. If that seems like a lot, do bear in mind that you will also get the e-book and audiobook editions free with it, so it’s more of a package for £20 really. Plus, free postage and packaging within the UK. And your name will be listed in the back of the book as someone who helped to support the book becoming a reality. And you get access to my Author's Shed where I put pictures and content you won't see elsewhere. And I run competitions for my pledgers and just by becoming one you are automatically entered into the draw to win the original cover painting. Suddenly £20 seems quite reasonable doesn't it?

And there are at least 25 other good reasons why my book is good value at £20. It has a myriad uses, such as ...

1. Torn in half and strapped to the feet as emergency show shoes.
2. 250 paper hats for a popular kitten’s/leprechaun's birthday party.
3. To plug a gunshot wound.
4. As a stage for a leprechaun concert.
5. As a bookmark for a really, really, really big book e.g. a giant's.
6. Confetti (requires garden shredder).
7. To beat off a shark attack.
8. As a cricket ‘box’.
9. As a bottom protector.
10. As a front bottom protector.
11. As a spice in a really disappointing curry (requires garden shredder).
12. As a club to club seal clubbers to death with.
13. Made into paper chains as Christmas decorations for the blind.
14. To plug a stab wound.
15. As a very small bridge over a tiny stream (for leprechauns).
16. As a crash helmet (not advised).
17. As the roof for a birdhouse or cuckoo clock or leprechaun cottage.
18. Fake snow (requires garden shredder).
19. As wrapping paper for a leprechaun-sized gift.
20. Torn in half as a makeshift bikini top/ bosom protector.
21. To beat off a badger/leprechaun attack.
22. As a wine press.
23. As a giant's beermat.
24. As an ingredient in Haggis (requires offal, sheep’s stomach, oats and garden shredder)
25. As an aerodynamically dubious Frisbee.

You see? Pledge now ... and tell your friends! Oh, and if you have any other excellent possible uses for the book do let me know by leaving a comment.

Because I hope I'm worth it

As you know, I'm trying to get my latest book published using the crowd-funding site at unbound.co.uk. It was a conscious decision to do so as I felt that they gave a fairer deal to the working writer than more traditional publishers, with which I have had some dealings. If the book is published, I will get the same advance that I was offered elsewhere. But, importantly, I will then get a much higher percentage of any profits than the 10% I could expect otherwise.

It's not the easiest way to sell a book, I'll admit. I'm on Twitter every day flaunting my wares like some street corner hooker, hoping someone will like what they see. Some days, if I'm lucky, I get one or maybe two new pledges. Most days I get nothing at all. Occasionally, I get some troll telling me that I'm asking for too much money. '£50 for a signed book? But you're nobody' wrote someone a few weeks ago. Well, thank you for that morale booster. I desperately wanted to reply that, 'Firstly, it's not compulsory and there are lower levels of pledging. And, secondly, for £50 you'll get a beautifully made hardback book, signed and doodled in by me, an e-book, an audiobook and you'll help me put food on the table for less than the price of a curry for four'. But I didn't. I'm better than that. I even get people telling me that '£20 is too steep for a hardback book'. Is it really? That's the price of a takeaway pizza. For that you get 65,000 words that I've spent more than a year assembling in an order that is, I hope, entertaining and enlightening. It's a year of my life for the same price that you'd pay for 10 minutes of a plumber's time. Oh, and you get the audiobook and the e-book included in the price too. I make no apologies in asking the amounts I'm asking. I won't get the book published if I don't.

Life is tough for the jobbing writer. Back in March, the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS), in conjunction with Bournemouth University and the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM), surveyed 25,000 authors to ask them about their working lives. What it revealed (or, rather, reinforced) is that most authors still struggle to survive. Here are the facts:

A typical UK author earns 33% less than the national average wage. Only the top 10% of writers reap any real rewards - it's a 'winner takes all' market. They earn more than 50% of total income from book sales. In other equally skilled professions the bottom 50% of workers earn nearly 40% of total income. Research by the Society of Authors shows that 75% of writers earn less than £20,000 a year and 46% earn less than £5,000. Only 20% of writers earn their income from writing; 60% of professional writers need another job to survive.

Advances are paid by a publisher so that the writer can pay the bills and conduct the research they need to. Advances have shrunk to pitiful levels. The Society of Authors states that new writers could expect an average advance of £10,000 around 20 years ago: 'Now they're lucky to get between £1,000 and £3,000.' This is partly due to the fact that the pool of money for advances is getting smaller and smaller due to the outrageous sums being paid out to celebrities. Early this year it was reported that Pippa Middleton had recieved a huge advance - reputedly £400,000 - for a book on party planning. And just last week, I felt physically sick when I read that Little Brown had paid out a whopping £350,000 to secure the biography of the winner of Britain's Got Talent 2012. If you need reminding, that was Pudsey the dog. £350,000 for the biography of a dog? That could have been 35 advances of £10,000 to keep 35 writers afloat and put many wonderful new books on the shelves.

Publishers are now so unnerved by Amazon's dominance, e-book downloading and the closure of independent bookshops, they can no longer afford to take much risk on new talent. In the past, they would pay an advance beyond a debut book's value because they recognised that they were nurturing a promising author but the tradition is disappearing.

In a recent article for The Guardian, bestselling author Ian Rankin wrote: 'The internet has pluses and minuses. It's easier than ever to get your stuff seen by people. But it's harder than ever to make a living from it. Look at the money that publishers are paying for new writers … less than they paid 20 years ago. They know first novels don't sell many copies and, if writers decide … to sidestep the traditional publishing route and sell their stuff by themselves online, they're having to sell it for virtually nothing – 99p.' He has made a plea for tax-breaks for writers. Rankin believes that a scheme modelled on the artists' exemption arrangement in Ireland would invest in the next generation of creative talent. 'If you want to give new writers a start, then a tax incentive is one thing you can do,' he said. Under the 1997 Irish scheme, the first €40,000 (£33,000) of annual income earned by writers, composers or visual artists from the sale of their work is exempt from tax. As Rankin explained, the scheme was capped because some well-established names were 'tempted to move to Ireland' to avoid tax.

Very few of us writers will ever earn good money from it. Very very few of us will ever be bestsellers. But some of the best books I've ever read have been by writers whose chances of making the Top 10 in W H Smith are very unlikely. Unbound offers me the best return on my investment of time and effort. If the book is published, I will earn less from it than I used to earn in a month when I was a policeman. But it will be more than I could ever hope for from traditional publishing.

So that's why I'll continue to whore myself. And that's why I say to the trolls 'You think £20 for a book is too steep? I'm sorry you feel that way but I happen to think I'm worth more than three packets of fags.'

And if you're supporting my book, thank you from the bottom of my heart.



It's still pop in any language - Part 2

A couple more familiar songs sung in unfamiliar languages from my collection. I posted three others earlier in the week here. Sadly, I can post no more due to copyright issues. Frankly, I'm probably doing wrong posting these though, goodness, they are decades old.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Bucks Free Press Interview

There's an article about me and the new book in today's issue of the Bucks Free Press, my local newspaper. Click here to be taken to their website.

That was the online edition of course. To my amazement, they gave me the whole front page of the leisure section for the print edition. Is it me or does the headline make me sound like a stalker? Or some kind of celebrity frotter?

Star Crazy

Today I've found myself grappling with a question I can't answer. And, despite several hours of research I still can't answer it. It's bugging me, I can tell you. It involves stars. Let me see if I can explain this clearly.

When we look up at the day time sky we see the Sun which is round. When we look up into the night sky, we see the Moon which can look round, nearly round, or like a pointy banana. We also see stars which, for the most part, look like small dots of light. Which is how it looks in the oldest depiction of the night sky we have, the 4500 year old Nebra Sky Disk:

 The ancient Egyptians depicted the stars in the sky as spider-like, with rays coming off from them ...

the ceiling is decorated with several astrological scenes, including a depiction of the sky goddess, Nut.

... and so did the Native American Indians.

It's also the way my kids and grandkids draw the Sun.

Now, I get this. Refraction caused by the atmosphere will make a star or the sun look like it has arms/legs/rays/call them what you will. But no optical effect that I'm aware of can make them look like a geometric object. So WHY do we draw stars like this?

Yes, these kinds of shapes - pentagrams and hexagrams - do appear once you start mucking about with regular polygons and, as the result, they appear in art from the year dot. I have seen them in decorations in churches and ancient palaces. I also know that they form part of the symbolism within some belief systems.

But how and why did they become associated with stars in the sky? Because the stars in the sky look absolutely nothing like them!

Any ideas?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

It's still pop in any language

I'm a great collector of music on the fringes of the industry. On the one hand, I love the 'have a go' amateurs like Florence Foster Jenkins, Mrs Miller, William Hung, Alan Gillet, Anna-Lisa Ingemanson and others who made records despite their singular lack of talent. On the other, I love ill-considered novelty songs; I'm not talking about those deliberately recorded for comic effect, but rather those songs that time has made cheesy and awful like Reggie Bosanquet's 'Dance with me' or Patrick MacNee and Honor Blackman's 'Kinky Boots'. And somewhere in the middle, there's a place in my heart for foreign language versions of well-known songs originally recorded in English.

Many professional artists do record in non-English languages of course. The Beatles, Dusty Springfield and ABBA all recorded some of their songs in French, German and, naturally in ABBA's case, Swedish. But it doesn't happen so much any more as English has become the lingua franca of business and the music industry. Just look at Eurovision. I think that's a shame. There's a charm in hearing a familiar song sung in an unfamiliar tongue. It adds a freshness to them that is quite delightful.

I thought I might share some of my collection with you, starting with Thailand's brilliantly named Sakarin Boonpit with his version of 'All shook up' or 'Kotmorn Yoop Yap':

If you enjoyed that, you'll probably enjoy this Hindi version of ABBA's 'Dancing Queen' ('Mitha Maze Dar') by the wonderful Salma and Sabina Agha:

And to end with, how about the Bulgarian version of 'I will survive' (Ya Budu Zhit') by popular combo Strelki?

More soon?

The Thursday Guest Blogger - Andy Kerr

Welcome to this week's Thursday guest blog, an occasional series of discussions, opinion pieces and reviews. This week it's home maker, charity fundraiser and all-round good egg, Mr Andy Kerr. Enjoy.


Be Sweet & Retweet a Charity's Tweet

Each day on Twitter there are 340 million tweets!

There will be people Chit-chatting, playing hash-tag games, tweeting their favorite celebrities in the hope of a mention or follow and in amongst all these millions of tweets there are people wanting your help!


Now before you get all panicky, I should write this is not about you donating anything.....well except one thing that is.... I would like to put forward the idea or notion that each day you should "donate" one Tweet in the form of an RT to help support someone who is taking part in a charity fundraising event or to promote Tweeters like Stevyn Colgan, who is looking for pledges for his new book. A simple enough idea which sadly I don't see enough of.

Twitter used to have a lovely wee community feel to it when I first joined in early 2009. But now it all seems to be a numbers game.

How many followers do I have?

How many Retweets did that tweet get?

How many people have Favorited my tweets?

Now I don't want to be a party-pooper and say you must only Tweet or RT stuff about charities or helping people. Hell no. I've typed my fair share of good and bad jokes on Twitter! I've even tweeted a celebrity or few in the hope they'll tweet back. I don't want to take the fun out of Twitter, what I want to do is put back the community spirit into Twitter; a Community Spirit where we RT a Tweet from a fellow follower who is walking/running or hopping for charity rather than scanning past the Tweet to see what a celebrity is up to today.

Someone asked me why they should they should RT a charity tweet, because they felt they might not be real. Now in the light of a Twitter scandal where a Tweeter wasn't all they claimed to be and allegedly took money from fellow followers, I better address what you should do if you wish to donate to someone on Twitter. Only donate to the charity or fundraiser via www.justgiving.com or uk.virginmoneygiving.com The Fundraising Tweeter should have a charity page set up at either one of these places if they are legitimate. The same goes for Pledges for Stevyn Colgan's new book http://unbound.co.uk/books/42.

Tweeting is a fun thing to do and can only be enhanced by RTing more charity and support for other's tweets. You might think 'How can ONE TWEET ever help someone?' I would say to that, ONE TWEET might be all they need to help them. If you donate one Tweet each day, that would add up to 365 Tweets in a year ... and that is a lot of help to give someone.

Check your followers to see if someone has a fundraising event coming up and give them an RT (maybe even a donation too).

Thank you

Love Andy (@Support_Charity) xxx


The content of guest blogposts do not necessarily reflect my views (although they often do) and are the views of the writer alone. Fancy being the next Thursday guest blogger? Drop me line at stevyncolgan@mac.com or tweet me @stevyncolgan.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Keeping Mum

The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things is always a website worth visiting and I dally there far too often and for far too long. Just recently, it posted a series of these extraordinary portraits of Victorian mothers hiding from the camera.

Lest you think this is typical turn-of-the-century female modesty or some very poor entrants in a hide and seek competition, I shall explain. Or let the Museum explain anyway:

'The first photographic images in the late 1820s had to be exposed for hours in order to capture them on film. Improvements in the technology led to this exposure time being drastically cut down to minutes, then seconds, throughout the 19th century. But in the meantime, the long exposures gave us a few unmistakable Victorian photography conventions, such as the stiff postures and unsmiling faces of people trying to remain perfectly still while their photograph was being taken.'

'Seems children were just as squirmy then as they are today, because another amusing convention developed: photographs containing hidden mothers trying to keep their little ones still enough for a non-blurry picture.'

You can see more of them here at the Museum. They've also been featured on Chris Wild's always excellent Retronaut site and there's a great archive at the Hidden Mothers Flickr Group. Do visit them.

Doing The Right Thing

I appeared on my first panel show recently. And here it is:

Sony Award-winning Do the Right Thing is hosted by Danielle Ward and the team captains are Michael Legge and Margaret Cabourn-Smith. Each team captain is aided and abetted by a guest comedian and the teams have to describe how they would cope if presented with a particular scenario. It goes out as a podcast and is definitely too rude for radio.

Here's how the show was reviewed by Elisabeth Mahoney in The Guardian:

'Do The Right Thing, a new panel show podcast recorded in a pub, sounds so like something you'd hear on Radio 4 it comes as a shock when the air turns blue. 'It's not fucking QI!' host Danielle Ward tells contestants in the second episode. As the programme ends, the audience applause fizzles out a little. 'Keep fucking going!' she yells. Language aside – and, you might want to note, there are quite a few c-words – it's not surprising this feels so Radio 4: producer Ben Walker has worked on The Now Show and the Vote Now Show, as well as producing Richard Herring's podcast, As It Occurs To Me. And it is mostly very funny, with a tendency towards the peculiar as guests riff on the idea of doing the right thing in different scenarios. That might be when you're accidentally buried alive. A vegan contestant thinks of his body feeding the worms and insects: 'Maybe I should just die.'

Other rounds involve asking an expert and posing questions to an agony aunt. This uncovers creepy tales of first kisses ('her first boyfriend learned to kiss with his mother'), tips of triggering labour late in pregnancy ('have you tried being shot out of a human cannonball?') and a paramedic faced with a bridegroom who'd aspirated a pickled onion. It didn't end well.'

I was the 'expert' in 'Ask the Expert' round of the show that I appeared on, with Jenny Eclair and John Finnemore. Two episodes were recorded that day and the expert for the other was Jon Ronson. His panelists were Robin Ince and Josie Long.

You can hear all of the episodes broadcast to date from series 1 and 2 by visiting here. And I advise you to do so. It's great comedy.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Emperor Yes and Friends - Private View

I spent a chunk of yesterday afternoon and evening at the Private View for an art exhibition organised to coincide with the release of Emperor Yes's first single. The event was hosted in an old computer shop that is being slowly converted into a gallery - Top Office Machines in Bethnal Green Road. It's a huge space with lots of rooms and built over four floors. There was lots of tidying up to do but, eventally, the doors opened, the music started and the beer flowed (a special batch from the brand new Hackney Brewery).

However, before we partied, I went around and took some photos so that I could share some of the art with you. I haven't posted even half of it here but it will give you a taste of the very talented company I was keeping. I am proud to have my art hanging among theirs. Among the artists on display are Low Bros, Billy and Malarky, Mr Penfold, Bromley, MVF, Milo Tchais, Oliver Dorman, Tony Lee, Super Haunted, Anders Furevik, Sephryn Grey, Peter Rossiter, Sam Ballard, Tyler Wallach, Ayano Fukuoka, Paul Shinn, Alec Jones and Collective Era. You can see my two pieces here.

The show runs until the 29th July and will feature live music, a comedy quiz night (with me and Dan Schreiber from QI and The Museum of Curiosity), magic, photography, science experiments and there's a talk by Ben Hardwige about Chinese medicine and the myth that 'sharks don't get cancer' on the 22nd at the venue. It's a tie-in to the Skeptics in the Pub movement.

If you're in or around East London in the next three weeks, why not pop in? It's free! But if you can't make it, the full catalogue of art is here, along with prices.


Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Thursday Guest Blogger - Darren Goldsmith

Welcome to this week's Thursday guest blog, an occasional series of discussions, opinion pieces and reviews. This week, it's writer, artist and bass player for Thomas Dolby, Mr Darren Goldsmith. Enjoy.


I have observed the reaction to the success of E L James’ ‘50 Shades of Grey’ with fascination. Can’t say I’m surprised, however. I’ve been around a bit and I’m big enough and hairy enough to know how people can behave. For the most part, this is nothing more than sneering and snobbishness.

I do wonder how many of the nay-sayers have read it. Not many, I suspect. At least, not more than a passage or two, to confirm what they already know; this is a terrible book, terribly written. How can it have sold so many copies? I blame the hype. Etc.

I’ve not read it either. It doesn’t sound like my cup of tea. But I have no problem – none whatsoever – with the author’s success. I wish her only the best. Seriously, has she killed someone… or dined on kittens? Perhaps people are so enraged because this is the death of literature itself?


In a conversation on Twitter yesterday (which I backed out of), I made a comment that people liked the book and it made them happy. It doesn’t really go any further than that, does it? Sure, a large percentage of sales will be down to curiosity, based on the news of its success, but that’s how hype works, folks. I understand the book was already selling thousands of copies before the media got a hold of the story anyway, hence their interest in it. But if the concept of hype puzzles you or annoys you, you might need a reality check. Or more time away from the internet/TV.

OK, perhaps the book is badly written (I have no idea) but so what? Really… so what? For the people sneering (mostly writers, I have observed), how the hell does it affect you? It’s probably safe to assume those who read ‘50 Shades of Grey’ are unlikely to be in the market for your work. So don’t worry, your ‘tightly plotted prose’ and ‘brilliantly realised characters’ are perfectly safe. And the book isn’t dragging the publishing industry through the mud, is it? A single book isn’t going to topple (or significantly boost) an industry that’s going through so many changes right now anyway.

E L James was rejected by agents and publishers alike when she first sent the manuscript out. She invested her own money in editing and a decent cover, and word of mouth (the best hype there is) did the job instead. Now those same publishers want a slice. This doesn’t necessarily mean the industry was mistaken regarding the book’s quality, or the author’s ability, but they sure as hell were wrong about what the public want.

One responder to my ‘people like it/the book makes them happy’ comment stated yesterday that she would prefer people to be happy reading better material. Fine. But perhaps those who read ’50 Shades of Grey’ will make that very decision for their next book. They might not. They may never read another. It’s not up to us to judge or enforce.

Another responder claimed my argument was shaky, saying ‘heroin also makes people happy’. What the f**king f**k? I understand that heroin (up to a point) makes people happy… but it’s not harmless. Far from it. Books about soft porn/erotica aren’t addictive and don’t kill people.

Anyway, this last response was why I had to back away from the conversation. My cousin, who would have been 40 this year, died of a heroin overdose when he was 19. I only wish he had been into something as innocuous as ‘50 Shades…’

Keep quietly creating, folks. Don’t sneer. It’s beneath you.

Cheers, Darren.


The content of gust blogposts do not necessarily reflect my views (although they often do) and are the views of the writer alone. Fancy being the next Thursday guest blogger? Drop me line at stevyncolgan@mac.com or tweet me @stevyncolgan.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Mitchell and Webb (and me)

Here are two very odd things that I own. They're paintings on canvas. And they were commissioned for use in sketches for the BBC series That Mitchell and Webb Look. Both were featured in the 'Get me Hennimore!' segments; a series of running sketches that spoofed 1970s sitcoms. Here's the first painting, a Christmas scene with David Mitchell's 'Boss' character as Santa:

You can watch the sketch it appeared in by clicking here. I would have put the video on my blog but whoever posted it to Youtube disabled the embedding and I can't find an alternative link. Pft.

The second painting is this rather bizarre piece, also from a Christmas-related Hennimore sketch:

And this time I can embed the video;

So how did end up with these paintings? Bizarrely, I found them, and all the others featured in the series, for sale on ebay. Bids were low so I got in there and bagged two of them. It was just a chance find, simple as that.

I have no idea what I'll ever do with them but it's nice just to own a teeny tiny piece of TV comedy history.

Box of delights

A whole box of publicity postcards arrived today. I'll be doleing these out all over the place. I may even run a little competition and doodle on a few(on the backs obviously).

Still taking pre-order pledges on the new book! Click here. Or read the first two chapters for free (see top right of blog page).

Curioser and Curioser!

Some exciting news!

This year, I am officially one of the researchers for the fifth series of BBC Radio 4's The Museum of Curiosity.

Devised and produced by Dan Schreiber and Rich Turner, the show is hosted by QI supremo John Lloyd (above) and a guest curator. Three guests are invited onto the show to donate items to the museum that inspire curiosity and fascination. This has, so far, included the yeti, the death of Father Christmas, Spiderman, nothingness, the urge to press red buttons marked 'do not press', a walrus's penis bone, and God's wife.

Donators have included Sir Terry Pratchett, Jon Ronson, Philip Pullman, Clive James, Leigh Francis, David Eagleman, Neil Gaiman, Marcus Chown, Sarah Millican, Suggs, Professor Richard Wiseman, Brian Blessed, Alain de Botton, John Hodgman, and many many more from the worlds of science, literature, entertainment and academia. Each series has a different curator and, to date, the post has been held by Bill Bailey, Sean Lock, Jon Richardson and Dave Gorman. This fifth season sees the appointment of Jimmy Carr, a regular on sister show QI and a very clever chap.

The show starts recording in a few weeks and will go out on the radio in the Autumn.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Wasps and Fishes

The two new pieces I've done for the Emperor Yes and Friends launch event later this week. The brief was, simply, 'Wasps and Fishes' as they are the titles of the tracks on the launch EP.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Interestingness - June Roundup

I'm fascinated by all kinds of things. Some stories that caught my eye this past month that you may have missed:

Dinosaur farts and burps may have had a huge impact in warming the Earth. British scientists have calculated the methane output of sauropods, including the species known as Brontosaurus. By scaling up the digestive wind of horses, they estimate that the total population of dinosaurs, produced 520 million tonnes of gas annually. They suggest the gas could have been a key factor in the warm climate 150 million years ago. Full story here.

Portrait mistaken for 18th-century lady is early painting of transvestite. National Portrait Gallery in London buys portrait of celebrated diplomat, soldier and cross-dresser Chevalier d'Eon. Full story here.

Build your own paper-craft beasties from Heironymous Bosch's 'Garden of Earthly Delights'. A Japanese site called The Glue2 Chronicles show you how. See here.

A helpful infographic showing the difference between legal tax avoidance and illegal tax evasion. The difference between Jimmy Carr's ill-considered if legal savings compared to Vodafone UK. See here.

What if Leonardo Da Vinci had designed the Large Hadron Collider? Some clever artwork by Dr Sergio ittolin, an actual researcher at CERN. See here.

Who's afraid of Greater Luxembourg? A fascinating feature on the rise and fall of europe's most bijou country. Full story here.

The Gnome Experiment. Scientists are measuring the force of gravity at different part of the world. Using a gnome. They really are! Full story here.

Eight of the weirdest conspiracy theory websites you'll ever visit. Antichrist aliens, messages from angels, 7th dimensional light beings, star children and reincarnated knights ... it's all here.

500 new fairy stories discovered in Germany. Collection of fairytales gathered by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth had been locked away in an archive in Regensburg for over 150 years. Full story here.

More soon.

Emperor Yes and Friends

My very good chum Ash Gardner - the man behind the House of Strange recording studios - has been part of a brilliant collaborative music project over the past few months. Called Emperor Yes, it's experimental pop of the best kind with trippy little riffs, fun lyrics and great musicianship. It features Ash on keys and vocals, multi-instrumentalist Hugo Sheppard, the mighty Adam Betts of Three Trapped Tigers on drums and a host of guests. Here's a sample track called Fishes:

There's a great interview about the band here.  Anyway, they're having a launch party that lasts a week or two to celebrate the release of the first EP ... and it starts this week. They've asked me and a whole bunch of other artists to create original new pieces of art based on the tracks Wasps and Fishes.

If you're in East London, come an have a gander. The exhibition will be at Top Office Machines, 133-135 Bethnal Green Road, Bethnal Green, London, E2 7DG. Nearest station is Shoreditch.