the creative publication for the north-east issue four /// sept-oct free ///
04 /// John Adams /// Andrew Donaghy /// Lucy Farfort
/// Matt Ferguson /// Michael Finnigan /// Richard Kenworthy /// Jen McHugh /// Cai Nyahoe /// Thomas Reid /// Graeme Ruddick /// Murray Somerville /// Heather Taylor /// Joe Turnbull /// Andrew Waugh /// David Williams
Exploration and Innovation
17-23 17-23 October October 2011 2011
i i O
Marcus MarcusBrigstocke Brigstocke BB Ann AnnCleeves Cleeves Alistair AlistairDarling Darling Lord LordRichard RichardDannatt Dannatt SS Richard RichardDawkins Dawkins Tony TonyHarrison Harrison Val ValMcDermid McDermid OO DavidMiliband Miliband David OO ChrisMullin Mullin Chris AdeleParks Parks Adele BB DonPaterson Paterson Don JonRonson Ronson Jon AliSmith Smith O Ali O Lucy Worsley Lucy Worsley
ere man, we’ve made it to issue four. We can’t explain how much we love doing this; how much we enjoy receiving the work of the North-East’s creative tribe and how much we buzz off compiling it into the end result you hold in your hands. Massive thanks to all contributors – standard. Because summer months are ripe for travel and finding the time to get round to those tasks that you have procrastinated on for so long, we thought ‘exploration and innovation’ was an apt theme.
Once again, novel has grown and looks set to remain ‘The Creative Publication for the North-East’. The foundations of the platform we are building are stronger; the community we are interacting with is widening. So many people are saying how ‘dark times are for the arts’ at the minute and undeniably times are tough on many levels at this present epoch. But let’s not stand in pub doorways lamenting our sorrows, tears falling into spilt beer. Let’s explore new ideas; let’s innovate a new approach and let’s shed some light on the darkness.
novel emerges emphatically from a profound desire to consume art, literature and culture, in both an aesthetically pleasing and tangible way. Consumption need no longer be such a dirty word. Much of novel’s content is timeless, so once read, why have it cast to the landfills? Printed on thick, uncoated, renewable stock, novel is as textural as it is textual. After all, it is still the palpable pulp we call paper that artists and writers turn to first as a medium for expression. With the majority of novel being composed from the creative contributions of local writers and artists, it acts as a much needed platform from which talented individuals can build a portfolio, as well as inform the public of their work, websites and upcoming displays or events. novel plays host to a plethora of art, media and prose, as well as previewing and critiquing upcoming local and cultural events. Still in its early stages, novel is sure to transform through time and space, as it becomes even more ingrained into the fabric of the cultural North-East. We pride ourselves on being a local publication with highly interactive qualities and our website offers you all the chance to comment on the content found within; as well as suggest new topics for upcoming issues and new ideas for features and editorials.
In For A Tweet
Tweeting with a difference
Our United State Of Exit
Debauchery in Serbia
Exploration of the mind
Huxley’s Mescalin adventures
Cache Me If You Can Summer Holiday Event Horizon Novel Enterprises Africa, Right Ahead Coming Home Born Digital
Editors (Print & Web) Lee Halpin email@example.com Kerry Kitchin firstname.lastname@example.org
Sub-Editor Joe Turnbull
Design Kerry Kitchin email@example.com
Social Media Ruth Comer firstname.lastname@example.org
Directory Choice Pick: Carivina was our web editors favourite from our online directory in the last two months and the illustration shown above is an example of her work. To feature in our directory send an example of your work and a short profile to email@example.com
Geocaching. Have you tried it? Fun
Short-story – man sets fire to garbage Hilarious tales from the American Mid-West The launch of our new sister company All of Africa’s woes... solved Boomerang Newcastle. Uni and back. Newcastle based web-design agency
Front Cover: This piece was contributed by David Williams, a local photographer with an impressive portfolio and list of clients. View all this and more on his website: williamsphoto.co.uk
Contributors: Writers John Adams,Andrew Donaghy, Michael Finnigan, Cai Nyahoe, Thomas Reid, Heather Taylor, Joe Turnbull Artists, Illustrators and Photographers Lucy Farfort (lucyshappyplace.com) Matt Ferguson (inkonpaper.org.uk) Richard Kenworthy (richardkenworthy.com) Jen McHugh (jenmchugh.com) Graeme Ruddick (graemeruddick.co.uk) Murray Sumerville (murraysomerville.blogspot.com) Andrew Waugh (thismeanswaugh.blogspot.com) David Williams (williamsphoto.co.uk)
www.novelmagazine.co.uk Twitter: @ novel_magazine Facebook: /novelmag
Back Cover: This piece was contributed by Graeme Ruddick.View more of Graeme’s work at graeme ruddick.co.uk & freerangemachine.com
novel issue 4. Published bi-monthly by Novel Magazine, all rights reserved. Printed in the UK. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in articles are those of author.
In For a Tweet Joe Turnbull takes a look at the innovative and creative uses of one the most established social networks. Illustration courtesy of Matt Ferguson.
feel I should start this article with a few qualifying statements about my position on Twitter and social networking more generally. Firstly, I’m not usually in the business of writing articles that act as cheerleaders for multi-billion dollar companies. In fact, the very thought of such an act makes me feel a small but very important part of me has just died a traumatic and painful death. Secondly, I am far from an advocate of the usual social media/networking circus and I’m probably one of the more cynical 23 year olds you are likely to meet on the matter. I happen to think it is often no more than a grotesque carousel of desperately insecure posers, infuriating spam and mind-numbingly mundane bullshit about people’s equally banal lives. Instead, this article aims to highlight the informative, amusing and innovative uses of Twitter in the hope that perhaps we may be able to use these devices outside of the watchful eye of a corporate profit machine. Indeed, hacking group Anonymous has recently announced plans for a not-for-profit, un-intrusive and uncensored social networking platform, but that’s a story for another day. Protests: The marketing team at Facebook must have had to change their underwear when certain pundits spectacularly overestimated its influence on events in the ‘Arab Spring’, all but crediting it for bringing about the Egyptian Revolution. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just all a marketing campaign on Facebook’s part that planted the seed for such an idea. Personally, I think the effect of social networking was probably pretty minimal but there’s no doubt it can be a useful tool for organising and informing movements. The constant updating and immediacy of it, makes Twitter the weapon of choice for activists whilst actually out protesting. I know from personal experience at last year’s student protests that updates via Twitter allowed protestors to inform each other of developments and helped facilitate a more fluid form of protest, whereby marchers could deviate from the agreed route and splinter into smaller groups. This proved to be an effective counter-strategy to the controversial police tactic of kettling and opened up the protest to a wider area of London. Protestors were also able to inform each other of concentrations of police, evening out the playing field a little. However, protestors beware! If using Twitter in this context, never forget that it is completely public and the police monitor it closely. For these reasons it is important not to use it in ways that might incriminate yourself or others, just report what you see in ways that might help your fellow protestors. The ill effects of Twitter being monitored is something I found out about the hard way, when I was sacked from my job at the Census for divulging too much information and criticising its parent company Lockhead Martin on what I believed to be an anonymous Twitter account; it can happen! But I digress. Twitter as a source of information: Having read Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s excellent critique of the media ‘Manufacturing Consent’ and also from personal experience of witnessing events and then balking at distorted media coverage of them, I am fairly sceptical about relying solely on corporate
“I happen to think it is often no more than a grotesque carousel of desperately insecure posers, infuriating spam and mind-numbingly mundane bullshit about people’s equally banal lives”
and state owned media for my daily hit of news. Thankfully, Twitter provides a passage through the mire of bile and disproportion when used correctly. Once you have invested a bit of time developing a network of intelligent, informed and like-minded tweeters, Twitter acts almost as a tailored news service which uses a much more balanced variety of sources. Tweeters often still provide links to mainstream coverage but this is offset by a healthy dose of personal analysis in the form of blogs, alternative media from sources such as Indymedia and eyewitness accounts from videos posted on Youtube, not to mention the odd bit of insider information that often gets shared via the ‘retweeting’ (effectively re-posting a tweet by someone else) system. This is really what makes Twitter stand out from other social networks and undoubtedly a major reason for its success; it facilitates alternative, personalised media and news when used properly. This sharing of links and retweeting of people in the know is all bread and butter for experienced Twitter users, a given if you will. However, there are some more innovative uses of Twitter as a source of information. Several users I follow use it in a genuinely informative but refreshing way. For instance, a tweeter whose opinion I respect greatly, @agent_of_change often condenses the interesting books he reads into say 15 tweets (remember each is only 140 characters long or roughly 20-25 words) distilling the most salient points for his followers and presumably also cementing his own understanding of them. Recently he also did a sort of ‘Greek Debt Crisis Made Simple’ in 13 tweets, breaking things down simply and concisely for those of us who are a little confused by it all. For example: Greece might ‘default’ (refuse to pay back), but that would be a disaster from the banks’ point of view. So the real vultures - IMF, European Central Bank - come in and offer more loans so that the old loans can be repaid But the loans come with conditions: cut government spending - on jobs, schools, education. Privatise. Deregulate. In light of the Metropolitan Police’s recent ridiculous statement urging members of the public to report any anarchists to them as part of an anti-terrorism directive, I recently posted a number of tweets debunking some myths about what anarchism really means: Do u wait in line at the bus stop forming an orderly queue without being told or threatened 2 do so? Yes? Uh oh ur an anarchist! Creative Accounts: Twitter also plays host to a plethora of specifically themed accounts ranging from people posing as celebrities to the personification of entire ideologies. One of my favourite such examples is a user who tweets as if they were capitalism (@_Capitalism_).The tweets range from biting satire to the macabre underbelly of everyone’s favourite exploitative economic system:
“I am capitalism and you want to travel the world? Why don’t you shut your mouth and watch the Travel channel, you have work tomorrow. “ “I am capitalism and there’s nothing like bombing the shit out of a country to make it understand the true force of democracy.” Equally, other users post useful and informative information on a particular topic such as @InjusticeFacts who hourly tweet an unbelievable, often eye-opening fact such as: “No deaths have ever been directly caused by marijuana use, however, the U.S. has executed 322 people for using and dealing it since 1982.” “The average American spends $3100 on entertainment each year, enough to provide the malaria vaccine to 20,000 children.” Another of my favourite Twitter users fills my timeline with a little gem of wisdom at least once a day, @AncientProverbs, who tweets just that, from a myriad of different cultures and places: “When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, educate people Chinese Proverb.” Finally, there used to be a user on Twitter who tweeted a synopsis of a Shakespeare play every day in just a single 140 character tweet. Check out their summary of Measure for Measure: MfM: “A lazy duke puts a pious jerk in charge. Things get out of hand, the duke takes the reins, the pious jerk sees the error of his ways.” These are just a few examples, I have barely begun to scratch the surface but it certainly gives you an idea of the sheer variety and ingenuity of some Twitter members. Certainly,Twitter, like any social network, can be the grotesque carousel I mentioned earlier; far too many of the people I follow tweet about being at the gym, which is tiresome. The trick is to be selective, only follow users with something interesting to say; like anything you only really get out what you put into it (there’s one for @AncientProverbs!). I’ll come full circle now and reiterate my first point; this is not an article that’s trying to sell you Twitter. If anything, I hope to have shown the vast well of creativity that is out there being published by normal people, most of whom do so in their free time or sneakily under the desk whilst they’re bored at a job that probably makes no use of their talent. It just goes to show that even average people can surprise you with how innovative they can be, given the right opportunity and a platform. Which does make you wonder what we could achieve if more of the world’s population were given even greater opportunities outside the realms of a profit driven social network. Until that time, I am sure Twitter will be a useful tool and resource in informing and inspiring the lives of many.
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Our United State of Exit This article is a fitting read for the post-festival point in the calendar we currently rest, or rather recover in. Andrew Donaghy is the editor of Under the Influence, he’s twentyfive and his craic is decent. The summer music festival: an idyllic state of carefree abandon where time holds no rule and rules no reason. The f-word is an opportunity to throw away the uniform, drink in a field and do as you please to an exclusive live soundtrack; watching musicians, artists and wired people twist and shout their way across a number of stages, genres and weird scenarios.That is / was a festival. Over the past five years I have witnessed the dilution of the BIG TIME festival, washed away by commercialism, sponsorship, price hikes and Topman androgyny. It’s not about the music anymore it’s about having your photo taken for Facebook points. It’s about that tee-shirt with these jeans and those loafers. It’s about haircuts and £150 sunglasses and morons that don’t know why they’re there, only that it’s the right thing to do in order to fit in to whatever genericism they’ve been sold that month.
I am not suggesting that my younger years were a rich vein of originality in an unimpressionable world. I was very aware of the cool thing to do back in the day, 2002–2004 aged 16-18. Back then there was a different feel to the notion of the festival and why we wanted to go. For instance, in 2003 my friends and I bought Leeds Weekend tickets five days before the event for £90. If I wanted a ticket now, stick £100 on top of that as well as eight months forward-planning, saving and finger bashing to beat the online hoard. This considered rant is my flag in the sand after returning from Serbia’s Exit Festival. In the UK, the festival has been sold down the river to the hyper self conscious 18–30 year old Radio 1 listener. Not an evil thing of course, but it’s not what you want in a field, off your face, trying to embrace another place, an altered state. Here you want to experience the plain camaraderie of the unconcerned; here together for one thing, to get loose and forget the world back home. Perhaps this is merely the result of four days without sleep, but at least it’s raw like the crowds I turned my head to see at 5 a.m a Sunday morning in Novi Sad’s Petrovaridin Fortress. But before I get to that euphoric state there is a journey to go on. I begin in arrivals at Belgrade airport with a bag too full and a rattling head of anxiety. Serbian men skulk through the over-encumbered swathes catching travel weary eyes and slurring “taxi” under their breath to the weakest and most confused. The initial hint of heat is now slapping me across the face as I wait in a queue for currency. I repeat “no” several times to several lurching advances and shuffle towards the exit to breathe it all in. Outside there’s a sense of calm, patience and confusion. My arriving party and I are equally in the dark at this very bright point in the afternoon.Void of all knowledge and experience about what awaits us on our adventure into the Serbian hills, we stand and wait. When we are 10 strong we leave for the city of Novi Sad.The passport and wallet patting is now a fading distraction as the ex-KGB looking
hard man in the driving seat is wielding two phones like a pair of hand grenades.The ring tone is the sound of automatic gunfire and goes off every 3-4 minutes. My thoughts are firmly on the grave mistake we’ve made, the hole in the hot earth and that scene from Casino. It’s only when we veer off to overtake on a blind corner that I genuinely start to see the end and grip the seat. Turns out the road through the national park quite subtly splits into a dual carriageway. I look to my friends and share silent relief. Once out of the national park we shortly arrive in Novi Sad.The landscape is lush and green, but the town strikes me as grey and dusty as we drive quickly past a dilapidated stadium that has the headline ‘HYSTERIA AND TRAGEDY’ written all over it. Exiting the car and grabbing the bags we’re soon stretched out in padded seats drinking Jelen, a local beer, in an evening heat you’d kill for back home.We relax and initiate various conversations about how this is much better than whatever it is we could be doing. A warm satisfaction takes hold and we all sink into the experience in a very rare, sober way. It is here we meet our Serbian friend Vukasin. Some of the guys have already taken to calling him our “Serbian fixer”. I like it but hope he never hears. He is 22, stocky and has short afro style hair. He’s an all round cool guy. He and his friend Marko look like brothers but they’re not. Marko it turns out is the crazy one. His English teachers must have included such luminaries as John McLane and Snoop Dogg as his frequent use of “bitches” and “motherfucker” builds throughout the four days. Vukasin is quieter, more reserved, but not without an edge. He is now busy and concerned as we learn he was not expecting us until tomorrow. It soon doesn’t matter - he fixes it. It’s now dark, I’m now drunk, we’re all drunk and high on breaking the first three hours mark. It’s that stage when you know everything’s sorted and the real fun is still to come. In the convoy to the villa, we stop off at the supermarket for essentials. The locals look in dismay but not disgust as we invade and load up with booze, spirits, water pistols, bats, beach balls, crisps, cheese, ham and litres upon litres of water. I never got the not-wanted-here feeling in Serbia even in a situation like this, causing mayhem in the late night shopping aisles. 5000 Dinars (£50) gets me more bags than six people can carry 10 yards.We did well. It would last only one day. As we veer off onto a dirt track with potholes that can only be the scars of land mines, thoughts of sun and beers at the poolside turn to massacre and an international incident.They’d never hear the screams. Vukasin laughs as our nervousness fills his Renault. In his thick accent he says, “Don’t worry guys we’re not going to kill you?” Our choked sniggers can’t hide the fact that we’re wondering at what moment the armed men will appear from behind the trees.Thirty minutes later the car’s headlights see us turn left and through some open gates.We finally make it. I can see a pool and so far nobody is here to kill us.We spill out of the car in celebration. The next hour is spent drinking heavily, smoking and diving head first into the pool. Some minor injuries later and minus luggage, we get changed and head back into Novi Sad. The nightlife is hot and busy. The place has a Mediterranean vibe as we hit a narrow street filled with bars and restaurants and pick our spot. Everyone is outside and the dance music is loud.There’s an obvious foreign festival-goer presence but I get the feeling it’s always this way.Vukasin and Marko saunter around greeting every other hot local girl and we start to like them more by the hour. Chatting shit, we do rounds of the Serbian Rakija until my mind melts in a good way. By 4.00am the unwanted flirting with the beautiful hostess has ended
and so has our search for a club.We apologise to ‘the fixer’ for keeping him up and catch our lift back for a couple hours boozing and the wait for the sun. No sleep. Only when the days reach 44 degrees can you live like this. Like those dogs I saw in Naples last year, half dead in the shade, not sleeping, not eating, not doing much of anything. I am in total neutral mode during the hours of 7.00am-7.00pm for the next four days. I nap, I drink, we call for a lift into Novi Sad and we eat. I eat the same meal from the same place three days in a row. It’s chicken, it’s ham, it’s chips and this strangely brilliant vegetable mix-up on the side. I like the waitress most of all though, she’s feisty and always says, “This is your bill... without my tip.” I don’t know if it’s just the difference in temperature at this point but I notice the gene pool is pretty special. My time spent by the villa is some of the best. The world is different, we’re completely isolated from the madness in the camp site and town, here time wears no wristwatch and the days can freely merge into one long cool happening. Private pools and villas must be in life’s top ten things, nothing grand, just somewhere on its own with nearby cool bars, restaurants and people. Maybe if I try to record that wall of noise that crickets make in hotter climates and play it in the office I’d relax more? Who knows? Nature’s soundtrack to the summer holiday that your mind tunes out almost instantly until it breaks into the foreground when you look up and realise where you are. Thursday night is now upon us and so is the first night of the festival. Everyone is in that state of drunkenness that won’t pass if they choose for it not to. After more Rakija we stride up the hill, our group of seven guys and three girls, nine from London and one from somewhere up North. At the entrance to the ancient Petrovaradin fortress, a place where the Austrians’ ended the Turkish threat to central Europe in 1716, we exchange money for beer, energy, water and wine tokens. I imagine things were slightly different 300 years ago. We move into the festival like some strange collective of computer game characters having rolled our dice and selected our levels of energy and beer to take us through to sunrise. Out of breathe, we reach the first stop, the reggae stage. The layout feels mazy straightaway, separated by pathways and tunnels rather than fields and tree lines. I’d liken my first traipse round to a stroll through a film set with more alcohol and drugs. I come across an outdoor cinema, numerous tucked away genre based music stages, one silent disco (I never make it here, the closest I come is napping outside on Sunday night), one salsa area, one really shit indie stage, a zip wire, suspect hot dog stands, and everything else as standard until we hit the dance stage... To read the rest of this article, go to novelmagazine.co.uk or follow the QR link above.
King of Egypt A British MusEuM tour
16 July – 25 September 2011 Free entry Great North Museum: Hancock
newcastle upon tyne www.greatnorthmuseum.org
Supported through the generosity of the Dorset Foundation Statue of the Pharaoh Ramses II. Egypt, c.1200 BC © The Trustees of the British Museum.
Exploration Of The Mind A brief history of Mescalin: It was in 1886 that Ludwig Lewin, a German pharmacologist, published the first systematic study of the cactus, to which his name was subsequently given; Anhalonium Lewinii was born to western science. To primitive religion and the Indians of Mexico and the American Southwest it was a friend of immemorially long standing; its use is anciently appreciated. A miscellaneous quote from the early Spanish visitors to the New World declares ‘they eat a root which they call Peyote; and which they venerate as though it were a deity’.
Aldous Huxley wrote The Doors of Perception in 1954 to large acclaim and some outcry. It features in this edition because of its description of Huxley’s mental journey and his experimentation with the drug Mescalin (spelt as Huxley wrote it; now more commonly spelt mescaline). Words by Lee Halpin, illustration by Murray Sumerville.
hen Aldous Huxley took Mescalin in 1953, he did so under controlled circumstances, for the benefit of scientific research, accompanied by a loved one and a pharmacologist. Furthermore, he did so with a mind better tailored than most to cope with and understand incredibly profound cognitive feedback. This is not an advert for, or a promotion of, Mescalin use.The reason the author composes this article is because he believes, like Huxley, that since the dawn of time, mankind has sought to transcend the mundanity of human existence via the use of plants, toxins, chemicals and drugs; that we have a perennial fascination with that which alters our consciousness. Like Huxley he also believes that we stand a better chance of leading more free, more interesting and fulfilling lives if we seek to understand our mind and its relationship with the world; what Henry Bergson might have agreed to call, ‘the relationship between body and image’. Huxley was not the first westerner to be fascinated by this venerated cactus root, which is the active principle in the drug now known to us as Mescalin. He wasn’t even the first to consume Mescalin with a scientific approach (Jaensch, Havelock Ellis and Weir Michell all came to the drug beforehand). He is, however, the author of The Doors of Perception (TDoP), the most widely read, detailed and popular account of the Mescalin experience and it is a discussion of this text to which I would like to draw the reader’s attention, starting with the following quote from Huxley’s TDoP: [Mescalin has] a position among drugs of unique distinction. Administered in suitable doses, it changes the quality of consciousness more profoundly and yet is less toxic than any other substance in the pharmacologist’s repertory.
What are the biological, scientific explanations for Mescalin’s effects? What is the nature of its effect on the consciousness? Why is its effect so unique? It is not within the remit of this article, or within the author’s experience to fully answer, but he shall seek, via the use of select quotations and some paraphrasing of Huxley’s text, to throw what dim light he is capable of onto these queries. Starting with the first question, Huxley, quoting Cambridge philosopher, Dr. C. D. Broad, asserts that the function of the brain and the nervous system is ‘eliminative and not productive’ and moreover that we are ‘capable of remembering all that has ever happened to us’. In far more articulate terms Huxley then puts forward the notion that although humans are capable of remembering all that has ever happened to them, the brain and nervous system filter this knowledge, in order to keep us more focussed toward what is essential and not what is merely interesting. We usually only access what is practically useful to us in the immediate present; what is necessary to ‘get on in the world’. In very basic scientific terms: Mescalin inhibits the supply of glucose to the brain which results in an opening of the valves of this filtering system. This awakens the type of thought-processes, visions, feelings
and sentiments we usually only find demonstrated by visionaries, poets and geniuses; the William Blakes, Swedenbourgs and (insert your favourite genius here) so on. Huxley describes this ability to access filtered knowledge as ‘Mind at Large’ throughout TDoP. Mescalin’s effect changes the quality of consciousness profoundly, but what does this mean to the user? How does it feel when you’re on Mescalin? When the brain runs out of glucose, the undernourished ego grows weak, and loses all interest in the tiny amount of knowledge usually permitted by the cerebral reducing ‘valve’ referred to earlier. All of a sudden, the brain has access to this infinite multitude of hitherto ‘filtered knowledge’. Now, listen to Huxley describe what this engenders: As Mind at Large seeps past the no longer watertight valve, all kinds of biologically useless things start to happen. In some cases there may be extra-sensory-perception. Other persons discover a world of visionary beauty. To others again is revealed the glory, the infinite value and meaningfulness of naked existence...
The rational sceptic may be wont to scoff at such phrases as ‘extrasensory-perception’, ‘visionary beauty’ and the ‘glory’ of ‘naked existence’, but rarely are such phrases backed-up by potentially scientifically viable reasoning. Some sceptics have altered their attitudes towards such phrases after regarding such reasoning. If one does accept such reasoning, the implications are fascinating for people who believe in visionaries. Chemical induction aside is it not possible that some people, perhaps, like P.B Shelley or Caravaggio, are born without the ‘cerebral reducing valve’, have a naturally low or inhibited amount of glucose supply to their brains and that these people have innate access to ‘Mind at Large?’ In other words, do real visionaries exist? It certainly seems more feasible after hearing a Mescalin trip described so empirically by a man of Huxley’s intellect. Before moving on, there is, of course, a consequence, a side-effect if you will, to this – I’m weary of the word benefit, though it’s tempting – primary effect of Mescalin. The will to act suffers greatly. The brain becomes uninterested in the small amount of knowledge it usually has access to, that which is utilitarian and essential for ‘getting on in the world’. A person on Mescalin sees no reason for doing anything in particular and ‘finds the causes for which, at ordinary times, they were prepared to act and suffer, profoundly uninteresting’. They can’t be bothered with such things because they have more interesting things to think about. Why chase the greenfly off the carnations and water the garden when you’ve just realised that the greenfly, the flowers, the water and yourself are all interrelated aspects of the same existence, glowing with beauty and significance? What distinguishes Mescalin from other drugs and prompts Huxley and others to offer it a ‘position among drugs of unique distinction?’ It must be declared openly that there is not a plethora of accessible evidence – even less so at the time of Huxley’s writing- regarding the effects of long-term Mescalin use. Huxley cites the research of a Professor J.S. Slotkin and his monograph Menomini Peyotism (1952). Slotkin spent time researching usage of Peyote amongst Native American Indians who attach a religious significance to the cactus and made a ceremonial rite of ingesting it. In 1952 he was one of the very few white men ever to have participated in the rites of a Peyotist congregation. In summary or direct quotation here are some of his findings. A Mescalin “trip” produces no hangover, or come-down. ‘Habitual use of Peyote does not seem to produce any increased tolerance or dependence’. Slotkin observed of his congregation: [They were] certainly not stupefied or drunk...They never get out of rhythm or fumble their words, as a drunken or stupefied man would do...They are all quiet, courteous and considerate of one another. I have never been in a white man’s house where there is so much religious feeling or decorum.
“In some cases there may be extrasensory-perception. Other persons discover a world of visionary beauty. To others again is revealed the glory, the infinite value and meaningfulness of naked existence” “they eat a root which they call Peyote; and which they venerate as though it were a deity” “reading Huxley’s account of his Mescalin experience is enough for this author to have had his ‘Doors in the Wall’ opened, his attitude to all drugs permanently changed and his appreciation of life and art enhanced”
People do not binge on Peyote because the amount needed to produce the desired effect is so small and does not increase from one occasion to the next, and they do not crave it because it is not addictive, so it seems. Huxley adds that by contrast alcohol is addictive; is incompatible with safety on the roads, and its production, like that of tobacco, condemns to virtual sterility many millions of acres of the most fertile soil. Mescalin, he goes on, is far less toxic than opium or cocaine; is less likely to produce undesirable social consequences than alcohol or the barbiturates and is less inimical to the heart and lungs than the tars and nicotine in tobacco. It does, Huxley says, ‘on the positive side, produce changes in consciousness more interesting, more intrinsically valuable than mere sedation or dreaminess, delusions of omnipotence or release from inhibition.’ To most people Mescalin is almost completely innocuous; it does not drive the taker to behave offensively, violently or criminally. ‘A person under the influence of Mescalin minds their own business’, says Huxley. On this latter point one must note the phrase ‘most people’. Mescalin, as Huxley readily admits, is ‘not the perfect drug’. Earlier on in TDoP, Huxley also qualifies a positive Mescalin experience with ‘to those who approach the drug sound in mind and liver’. Before the author concludes, it is his duty to remind the reader that this is not an advert for, or promotion of, Mescalin use. A warning: for a small number of people, and particularly those who come to the drug plagued with anxieties, instead of opening up a perceptual Nirvana, these people are introduced to a ‘schizophrenic hell’ (see Huxley’s Heaven and Hell). Nonetheless, simply reading Huxley’s account of his Mescalin experience is enough for this author to have had his ‘Doors in the Wall’ opened; his attitude to all drugs permanently changed and his appreciation of life and art enhanced greatly.
Cache Me If You Can
Michael Finnigan has introduced us to Geocaching and really nailed the type of subject matter we wanted to include in this issue. Michael is currently doing a Master’s degree in Journalism. Illustration is by Lucy Farfort.
developer from Seattle, discovered the activity for himself and used his abilities to set up www.geocaching .com where he added all of the features - like descriptions and clues - that make the activity so accessible today.
t midnight on May 1st 2000, Bill Clinton’s order to remove Selective Availability on GPS systems increased their accuracy by over 80 metres. Until then, the best a GPS could do was to tell you that you were sitting in a football stadium. After the switch, it could tell you which row. For Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant from Beavercreek, Oregon, the novelty of having something he owned improved tenfold at the press of a button seemed too good to be true. So he decided to put his GPS to the test by burying a stash of treasures at a location near his home. The stash, which later became a cache, contained four Dollar bills, a slingshot and George of the Jungle on VHS. When he was satisfied the cache was suitably hidden, Ulmer returned home and uploaded the coordinates to the internet where he invited people to take part in his “Great American GPS Stash Hunt.” By May 6 the cache had been located twice and logged online once. His rules were simple: “Take some stuff, leave some stuff.” And that’s what Geocachers do to this day. In the beginning, only a few people had GPS devices, mostly for backpacking and sailing. So when they stumbled upon Geocaching, the early adopters had a steep learning curve. There were no clues, no description, and no indicator that they were in the right place other than a set of coordinates. It wasn’t until Jeremy Irish, a web
So if you’re ready to join in there are a few fundamental items you will need; the first being a GPS. Now if you’re lucky enough to own a GPS enabled smart phone all you need to do is download the Geocaching app. If not, you can mosey on over to www.geocaching. com and input the coordinates of nearby caches directly into your GPS. The downside to the latter is that you have to prepare the coordinates beforehand. When you’re ready, the first thing you will notice is the sheer wealth of caches hidden in places you’ve walked past a hundred times. Being from the North-East, I could hardly believe that there were caches concealed on almost all of the most iconic places in the region, ranging from the Tyne Bridge to the Angel of the North and even inside St James’s Park. There were even ones just 100 meters from my house. It’s not until you investigate a little further and find out that there are over 1.4 million active caches in the world today that the volume begins to make sense. Of the 1.4 million, each cache has been found approximately 4 times, meaning that over 4 million caches have been found and
logged online. The activity is now enjoyed in over 100 countries around the world. With so many people enjoying Geocaching it’s not surprising that more and more innovative ways to enjoy the activity are cropping up. One example is the Geocoin; an intricate custom made coin which has been crafted to look like anything, from a local landmark to the Star Wars insignias. The idea is to leave the coin with specific instructions to be moved to a new location. The finder must then make the decision whether or not to move the coin to a location closer to its final destination. One local example of Geocoining was set up by Stephen Waddington, Managing Director at Speed Communications. He ordered three unique British Geocoins and placed them in an already established cache near St James’s park in Newcastle. Staying true to Dave Ulmer’s original Geostash, he uploaded the details of his project to the internet and asked the world to take part in his “Geordie Jetsetter Project.” But Waddington had an ulterior motive: “With the Geordie Jetsetter Project I wanted to see if people would be sufficiently motivated by geocaching to move three separate Geocoins from Newcastle in the UK to the Newcastles in Australia, South Africa and even the US.” After a year and a half the coins have been moved 27 times, two have made it out of the UK and one has made it all the way to another continent. “The best thing about the project is that you can find out exactly where the coins are at any point in time,” Waddington said, “I know that the Australian coin is 1,200 miles away in Switzerland; the South African coin 600 miles away in Woking (UK); and the last US coin is lost somewhere in California, almost 6,500 miles from its starting point. It just goes to show how pervasive Geocaching can be.” Waddington says the project has begun to stagnate a little recently, but in an interesting twist one of the coins has managed to make it to another Newcastle. This one, the South African Geocoin, made its way to Newcastle in Staffordshire a mere 138 miles away from its humble beginnings at St James’s park. “It’s a testament to the spirit of Geocachers,” Waddington said, “and shows their dedication to the project itself.” Caches are rated by difficulty, the most extreme being a T5D5 challenge; Terrain 5 Difficulty 5.One T5D5 scuba cache was placed in 2002 by Richard Garriott better known as Lord British, a veteran games developer, entrepreneur and self-funded space man. He hid a Geocache near the Rainbow Hydrothermal Vents in Portugal at a depth of 2300 metres- that’s about 1.4 miles- using a Mir submersible. Richard left a small plastic horse now known as “seahorse” somewhere amongst the vents waiting to be found. “We were on a scientific research mission,” Garriott said, “and as I’m big fan of Geocaching I wanted to give the community a challenge.” Every year a company called Deep Ocean Expedition’s take wealthy tourists down to the Vents to see their beauty. Even so, the only clue Garriott left were the coordinates and to wish Geocachers “Good Luck in finding it,” so even a lot of money might not help you with this one. Ulmer, father of Geocaching, loves how far people will go to challenge each other. “It is always good to have a ‘top of the game’ aspect to any activity and for Geocaching T5D5 are the ones. Personally, I haven’t been to any, but I’d like to,” he told me.
For Ulmer, Geocaching is a great way to find interesting places which he discovers by reading the caches’ descriptions. When he reads about a cache that sounds particularly challenging he might take a look and if he does he simply signs the logbook. “There is little I find that has any value other than sentimental,” Ulmer said, “I’ve done it so much that I’ve already got hundreds of great memories.” But we all know Ulmer is partial to George of the Jungle on DVD so if you want him to participate these days you know what to leave. Because Ulmer travels so much he leaves all the administration to the people who work at Groundspeak; the website I described earlier which can be found at www.geocaching.com. I got in touch with Kelly Ranck, Marketing Assistant at Groundspeak, to see if she could give us some advice for first time cachers. “If it’s your first time, I recommend trying a geocache that has a difficulty and terrain rating D1T1,” she said “even though this is the easiest level, they can be far more difficult than you might imagine.” She’s not wrong; I spent an hour looking for my first cache and eventually found it hidden inside a Pine Cone in a branch twelve foot off the floor. “I would also recommend that you make sure to read through the caches description and any hints before heading outside,” which is also good advice. To that end we invite you first timers to try out novel’s very own Geocache. Details can be found below... Happy hunting! novel loved the potential for the fun involved in Geocaching and the principle of giving something and taking something, as a bit of the old ‘give and take’ is pretty much what we do with our readers and contributors. We liked the concept so much that we have hidden our own cache in the hope to interact with you via this great, modern game. The scope for banter here is irresistible and the items we have left make this all the more possible. In the name of fun, get involved. Please adhere to the only rule. Visit our website novelmagazine.co.uk for the co-ordinates and get cacheing (the images below are clues to help you find the cache).
Photograph by Richard Kenworthy
Filmed & Edited by Reuben Alexander & Krishna Bish Muthurangu
PA P E R G I R L NEWCASTLE
coming soon to
Summer Holiday Cai Nyahoe is a dandy, sartorially elegant gentleman. He’s also a writer, an artist and an untypical bohemian. His unique narrative voice made his work stand out to us. This piece is illustrated by Jen McHugh.
his year I have decided to forego the usual summer holiday drudgery, which means I won’t be spending two months pathologically trawling the Guardian travel section. Nor will I be re-reading the works of Garcia Lorca and Earnest Hemmingway in the vain hope of imbuing another drunken, Piz Buin soaked stagger around Spain with a sense of meaning. I will not be shouting at my children while manically documenting the ‘joyous spectacle’ of the Iberian Peninsula just to bore friends and family at a later date. Neither will I be putting together a slideshow in the style of Ken Burns using the music of some obscure flamenco guitarist we ‘discovered’. So now I must decide how it is I shall spend the summer. One option is to blow the price of my holiday on 12000 litres of jet fuel to burn over the holiday season. This way I can at least avoid the self-congratulatory, ‘staycation’, Boris-biking bullshit, with all its delusions about saving the planet. And it’s certainly something I’d like to avoid, having divorced my wife and children over the hypocrisy of our continued adherence to a regime of recycling that I can only view as a form of social control. Before they left, I did try to show them the absurdity of our lifestyle by driving us all to the local landfill site under the pretence of a family visit to Costco. Simon vomited at an obnoxious volume as I read my prepared statement and Stella barley listened. As she relentlessly fussed with the boy, I attempted to point out that the blue boxes were being emptied out along with what was obviously garden waste. No one listened. You can fill in the rest of the details for yourself. Luckily, the police will never be able to prove who set fire to Wednesday’s collection. So, for the first time I am truly free to pursue a three-week break (possibly four if I incorporate paid sick leave) of real value. Not this year will I be paying forty euros for two Bellinis in ‘Harry’s’, or scrambling for space on some Italian beach. Nor indeed shall I be travelling to Galicia to ‘patch things up’ with Stella at her father’s villa. Across the globe revolution is again in the air; this is our time. Should we sit idly by reading Marx or some watered down liberal equivalent or take our place on the barricades of freedom? The only logical course of action I can see is to fly first to Egypt and from there travel over-land to Libya. Once on the ground I will offer assistance to those suffering the ceaseless aggression of the fascists. Admittedly, I have limited military experience, but after all how much did Orwell have? Besides, with air support I imagine our duties will, for the most part, be restricted to preventing war crimes and of course subjecting its perpetrators to the harsh justice demanded in war time. After a fortnight or so of heroic, fraternal and at times gruelling combat I shall return victorious via Italy; bringing with me a teenage orphan girl whom I will have rescued from a group of pro-Gaddafi troops who would have otherwise certainly raped her. We shall return to my mother’s farm and slowly I shall educate her in the ways of our democratic system; not to mention the pleasures of reasonable affluence in a civilized country. As the years go by and she comes to see me as more than simply her saviour and protector, her emotions will become increasingly complex as her womanhood blossoms. One day, perhaps in spring, or in the clichéd heat of a summer’s afternoon, there will ensue some scenario that entails the removal of her shirt. Consumed by a (now entirely legal) passion we shall fall into one another’s arms and finally give vent to our long harboured desire. The man before me drained his fifth glass and stood up from the table and after generously paying for my time and indeed my brandy, staggered out into the searing Andalusian noon. As he approached an almost molten hired car, piled precariously with the essential excess of the domesticated camping experience, I could hear the reflexive hiss of a castigated drunk’s defensive riposte I could only conclude that his brief sojourn had highlighted the inadequacy of the air-conditioning to those closeted within. As the door opened, the unmistakable cacophony of a family in transit spilled out. I could not make out the face of the passengers. As the car, now no more than a small silver object, inscribed a path towards Alfacar, I noted the abandoned copy of ‘For whom the bell tolls’ …it tolls for thee?
Event Horizon John drove across the American Mid-West and has some audacious tales of that journey. This is laugh out loud funny. Unless you’re uninhibited, maybe find a quiet place to read it. Fact: Approximately 75% of Americans do not have a passport. Prologue When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. I watched Lassie, The Lone Ranger, Robin Hood and so on. When I was a man, I watched re-runs with my kids…
Somewhere We all have our idiosyncrasies. One of my own is that I have read ‘A Brief History Of Time’. Twice. So I know a thing or two about singularities. Not many of us will visit a black hole but if you want an idea what it might be like, just go to the American Midwest. The book was given to me by Andy B, who some years earlier had invited me into the labs of the Digital Equipment Corporation, where he was working on some revolutionary software. DecTalk could translate text into speech and I was looking for a cutting edge voice-over for my new film. I thought that the system was amazing – and later so too did Mr. Hawking, who adopted it as his public voice to the world. This all happened in Cambridge Massachusetts, home of DEC, spun out of MIT by its founder, Ken Olsen. And it was in Cambridge that I bought a 1971 Cadillac Sedan de Ville. This was a 22ft long car made at the height of the American love affair with gasoline. A car that had electric everything, a boot to sleep 3 people and 5 cigarette lighters. It was a joke in the city. By the time I bought it, parking spaces were designed for compact cars. The Cadillac needed two of these - and two adjacent parking spaces in Boston are hard to find.
So Andy B and I left Beantown to drive across the USA, for no particular reason other than there was nowhere on the East Coast to park a 1971 Cadillac. It is possible to drive coast to coast in around three and a half days if you are partial to amphetamines (and many are) but we were in a more relaxed mode, Andy smoking large spliffs and talking more or less non-stop for 500 miles a day. I was quite happy about that because the American rule of radio is, the farther West, the worse it gets. So Andy was my entertainment. Amongst other things he told me that his father was one of the 130,000 people who worked on the Manhattan Project. Mr. B didn’t talk about it that much, particularly as the outcome of the venture was the death of around 220,000 Japanese citizens, in short order. But he was more forthcoming about his neighbour, the craggily handsome Leonard Bernstein, who regularly hosted risqué parties at his grand house. Leonard, who clearly had a great sense of rhythm, liked to swing both ways. Musicians. What are they like? And so on. I have a transcript of Andy B’s entire monologue from East to West but sadly cannot include it here. Cut instead to the night time scene in Laramie, the place I wanted to visit because of my childhood experience of the TV series. Looking now at a publicity photo of Slim Sherman and Jess Harper, I imagine Mr. Bernstein may have been a fan also. Weirdly, another American musical great, Hoagy Carmichael, also starred in the show. Ah, the black hole that is the Midwest. If you are of a certain age and it crosses your mind to visit Laramie, Fargo, Cheyenne, Four Feather Falls, or any other small American town in the title of a film,TV series or song, think again. You will surely be disappointed. All you will find there are fat people in baseball caps, outlets and malls. Whatever the American dream is, you won’t find it there. But we just had to go to Laramie. There is nothing to say about it but this: Andy wanted to go to a saloon with swing doors but there were none, so we ended up in a bar instead. He had been smoking all day but now with the drink inside him and all that talk about Leonard, he had the urge to sing. There was a guy in the corner of the bar who looked a lot like Tom Waits, so it was the obvious cue. Andy launched into, ‘There’s a place for us...’ in a perfect imitation of the Blue Valentine track. The guy looked over and walked to the bar. After a few words, the barkeep handed him a well used 20 gauge and he walked over to us as Andy was hitting ‘Someday... somewhere.’ It was then I realised that it actually was Tom Waits – who unloaded the first barrel into the Naugahyde. Andy paused briefly, and then continued, ‘We’ll find a new way of living...’ I had to use the bathroom, as they say. After an easy number two and a rather difficult piss, I returned to find Tom and Andy singing: “Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke, You gotta understand, It’s just our bringin’ up-ke, that gets us out of hand”. Great lyrics Mr. Sondheim. I raised a laugh, singing along in the style of Prince Charles. After a while Tom paid for the damaged upholstery and the spent shell and we parted on good terms, although he refused to sing my personal favourite, ‘Gun Street Girl’. In the circumstances I didn’t push it and thanked him for not killing us. Yes, Andy B was a great mimic for sure, but not nearly as good as Stephen Hawking, who after a few drinks at a dinner party and the flick of a switch, can imitate literally anyone. He does a great George Bush apparently. Stephen, things have moved on - it’s time to change your act.
Thursday 27 October to Thursday 24 November 2011
Live Lab Experimenting with new work first
Take one creative laboratory, add five evenings of experimental style theatre, mix in an intimate audience of up to sixty people and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a great night out. So grab a drink, sit back, relax and let your imagination run wild. Tickets: £6 to £8 Box office: (0191) 232 1232 Book online: www.live.org.uk For up-to-the-minute information, and the chance to win free tickets, follow Live Theatre on Live Theatre, Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3DQ
The Launch of ‘Novel Enterprises’ Prepare yourself for a revolution in the business world, for great minds have gathered and formed zeitgeist shaping plans. Inspired by the work of Leonardo Da Vinci, we have expanded novel into the world of invention.
ntroducing novel Enterprises! Check out our new innovative design company with a completely rational and well thought through range of products. We simply can’t work out why the James Dyson’s of this world haven’t beaten us to these ideas. Ever found yourself thinking my living room just isn’t Scottish enough? Worry not dear readers, we have invented TARTAN PAINT. Problem solved! Having a battery charger is all well and good, but what happens when you’re not near a power supply? Eh? Stuck then aren’t you? Not anymore people, its fine. novel Enterprises give you the BATTERY POWERED - BATTERY CHARGER. Now you can charge your batteries on the go. Playing Cards are so annoying. But don’t you particularly hate it when they’re face down and you can’t see what’s on the other side? That’s a thing of the past. We give you new, DOUBLE-SIDED PLAYING CARDS. You can tell what card it is regardless of which way up it’s facing. Seamen! You may pride yourselves on your robust bodies and powerful physiques, but those anchors you guys use are just dangerous. If it hasn’t already happened then someone is definitely going to get hurt by one of those things in the future. Unless you want that on your conscious then we urge you to purchase our much safer, and softer, FLOATABLE ANCHOR. Heavy anchors sinking to the bottom of the sea are now a thing of the past . These four little babies; these inventive strokes of genius, are just the beginning. Obviously we’re going to be a big hit, and, in our opinion, the company has multi-million pound potential. Despite what the financial advisers, marketing executives, bank managers, other inventors, friends and family are telling us, we think we’re onto a winner. So unless all these narrow-minded pessimists are right, you can expect more cleverly conceived concepts and problem solving products from novel enterprises. In order to help us on this potentially beautiful journey, get on board (no pun intended seamen) and buy one of these products, which are available on ebay right now. Come on people, the BATTERY POWERED - BATTERY CHARGER is a no brainer! And if you don’t like Scotland, well then that’s just racist. A little piece of trivia for you pub quizzers: Did you know Leonardo Da Vinci was a painter as well as an inventor? We live and learn.
Tartan Paint - available in all your favourite coat of arms and clans Battery Powered Battery Charger Battteries not included Double-Sided Playing Cards - Sold in packs of two Floatable Anchor - Must provide own chain
Africa, Right Ahead Twenty-five year old Thomas Reid has an amusing, very tongue-in-cheek, voice in his writing. He has some interesting solutions to share with you regarding the plight of the African continent and its problems with water supply. Illustration is by Andrew Waugh.
ince the moment our great chimpish ancestor rose on to his/her hind legs to become the first homosapien, mankind has always had a curious disposition, a quest to conquer new intellectual frontiers, a propensity to say ”Oooh that’s nice, but how about this?“ Our Neolithic forbears didn’t just stop and say, ”what is this red flickering thing in front of me and why is it melting my hand?”. Instead they tamed and harnessed the power of fire and exploited it for their own benefit. Innovation it seems is inherent in us all and is what arguably sets us apart from the millions of other species that we co-habit this Earth with. We constantly look to improve, to bring light to the unknown and to make nebulous left field ideas a reality. It was therefore of great interest to me this week when the Sunday Times reported on the French engineer Georges Mougin, who has come up with an ingenious solution to the ongoing problem of drought in Africa. His plan, which is almost childlike in its imagination, is to tow icebergs from the arctic to the shores of Africa using boats, claiming that one iceberg could quench the thirst of a town the size of Sheffield for a year. This idea appears to straddle the line between stupidity and genius and highlights the essence of what innovation really is, thinking the thoughts that the ignorant majority would scoff at and turning them into a wonderful reality. However, as good as this idea appears to be, there are a number of pitfalls. Firstly, while it will have a big effect and undoubtedly save thousands of lives, it isn’t a long term solution and there will surely come a time when the freshwater ice runs out and the crops still need tending. Secondly, and though I may not be speaking from experience, I’m guessing it’s bloody tricky to distribute a 30 million ton iceberg once ashore. So in the spirit of innovation I asked myself; “If I have a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and I can’t solve this problem, then what hope have we got? Monsieur Mougin’s idea was undoubtedly a good start, but I just don’t think he was thinking sufficiently outside of the box. It was clear to me that geographically speaking, Africa was doomed to failure, high temperatures and low precipitation are hardly the best conditions for a fruit and veg patch. So I began with some blue sky thinking to see if I couldn’t rectify the problem, but my initial ideas, while playfully inventive did hit on a few snags. Archimedes once said ”Give me a place to stand and I will move the Earth”, that’s it I thought, if I were to move the earth further away from the sun then I could alter the Earth’s meteorological conditions and Africa would hopefully not be as droughty. However, Archimedes was referring to the mathematical concept of leverage, so in order to carry out his theory I’d need a pole thousands of miles long and another planet to stand on and that would just be mental. So instead I thought of the much more logical idea of creating a mutated Atlas type figure who could simply lift the entire Earth and move it to a more beneficial position. Unfortunately I had to scrap this idea due to budget restraints and also it seemed likely that my Frankenstein Atlas monster would no doubt run amock across the universe, shame. My second idea was to change the shape of the Earth based on our own urban drainage system. If we were to change the overall tilt of the earth’s surface, then water from more rainy parts of the world could flow naturally to a valley around the equator. This in turn could be funnelled into an irrigation system that would ensure that farms across the continent are sufficiently moist all year round. The problem with this idea is that it has the potential to completely submerge several central African countries under water. I discarded this plan, optimistically referring to it as ‘over-effective’.
“I have a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, if I can’t solve this problem then what hope have we got?” While my initial ideas were definitely along the right lines, they did have a tendency to create a monumental catastrophe in their wake and that would be bad. So I got back to the drawing board and whilst looking at a map of the world an idea came to me so brilliant, that it put all of mans other achievements to shame. The plan was simple, we move Africa. Africa’s position on the world makes it relatively inhospitable and a bugger to farm on, BUT if it were to be moved to the North Atlantic then it could enjoy the benefits of our mild climate and frequent downpours. Having thought this through in depth for a good three minutes, I began to set out a strategy in order to turn this dream into a reality. Firstly, we will need to release the continent from its mantle tethers and there are a number of ways to do this. Nuclear bombs could quite possibly destroy the earth and an army of submariner miners or ‘subminers’ would take too long. Instead, I would propose a well planned continental jump; at a specific time on a specific date, all Africans will unite and jump together. The resultant impact would create a shockwave powerful enough to release Africa from its bonds so it can float away. Africa will be tied securely to hundreds of cruise ships all along the west coast.These vessels will then commence to drag the continent to its new home in the North Atlantic, free to bask in its colder climes. Tickets will be sold for all the cruise ships so the project is completely self-funding. As a consequence of operation ‘Big Move’, Israel will be sheered away from the rest of the Middle East in order to become an island. 800 miles away from any other land mass, there should be far less tension with the neighbours, as I believe their relations with the Madagascans are currently good. Peace will be restored in the Middle East and all will be well. The consequences of the African move will be wonderfully far reaching. Starvation will of course be obliterated as the savannahs experience heavy rainfall and the economic boom that will follow would mean poverty could be eradicated. With North Africa now known as East Africa, a wealth of new ryanair destinations will crop up. Instead of heading for Budapest, which is the new Krakow, which was the new Prague, which was the new Amsterdam, British stag dos will descend en masse over the Afro-Irish Channel to places such as Tripoli, hearing of it’s ‘vibrant’ new atmosphere. There will be talk of a new mega high speed rail network, linking London to New York in only 24 hours of travel. We will embrace and learn from the cultures of our neighbours, we will be awash with new gastronomic delicacies, music, art, literature and film. For all these delights all we have to do is move an entire continent using boats! Actually, on second thoughts, this idea might seem a bit far fetched. Best stick with the icebergs.
Coming Home Heather Taylor is a twenty-three year old, English Literature graduate from Newcastle. She also writes for the Guardian and we’re delighted she has submitted to novel too. Illustrated by Matt Ferguson.
rowing up in Newcastle, as we got older, everyone started talking about when they were going to leave. Nobody even discussed the possibility of going to Uni in Newcastle. It seemed a rite of passage to move away to a different city, and we made a mass exodus to Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Nottingham – and a mass pilgrimage back to the Toon during holidays. Then there’s the travelling; it seems you’re not a proper twenty-something these days if you haven’t jetted off somewhere exotic for six months and come back with the tan or the Thai tattoos to prove it. Now, after graduation, I hear tales of people persuing high powered careers in London. It seems everyone is desperate to leave Newcastle . I’m exactly the same. Since finishing school I’ve pretty much constantly been leaving home, whether it’s for the next semester at Uni or to go and work abroad. My bedroom at home remains stubbornly full of all my old junk, and although I’ve spent extended periods of time away from Newcastle, it’s become apparent that I’m unable to properly leave; or rather, that I always have to come back. What is it about the city that means, five years after turning eighteen, few of my friends have managed to settle down anywhere else? I’ve lived in some weird places. At University, my halls had rats and there was always, inexplicably, some form of cake or pudding smeared over the walls. Then, when going away to work in the French Alps after graduating, I lived in the attic above a hotel which was nicknamed ‘the crack shack’, with one bathroom shared between eleven of us. More recently I’ve been living in a camper van (and I say ‘camper’ in the loosest sense of the word; it’s basically a white transit van with a bed in the back), in the south of France. Still, I’m yet to find anywhere that feels more like home than the one I grew up in. I’ve moved around so much that I’ve lost that unmistakable sense of living in a place that feels totally familiar. The only time I start to get something of this feeling back is when I come home, seeing the bridges and the Baltic as the train chugs into central station, or the Angel as you speed up the A1. It’s the feeling you get walking across Armstrong Bridge, a walk I’ve done thousands of times, with the Dene and Heaton Park stretching out in a grassy mass below, underscored by the sound of the cars on the Cradlewell bypass.With so many of us eager to get out and explore the world, why are we always being led back to the same place? There are lots of things which affect whether or not you permanently settle down somewhere. Millions of us went from being hopeful students buoyed by Blair’s promise of ‘University education for all’. A vast percentage returned as unemployed young people, graduating into a recession, a conservative leadership and little
hope of the promising career that seemed so attainable three years earlier.When I went to sign on the other day, they suggested I get a job at Toby Carvery. “I’ve got nothing against it” I said, “but I studied English Literature. I just didn’t really see that leading to a career carving turkey”. Obviously I have somehow developed serious delusions of grandeur. According to a recent survey by the Office of National Statistics more young people in their twenties and thirties are now living at home than in the past twenty years. Although this is partly blamed on financial difficulties, the survey concludes that there also exists a demographic, dubbed ‘kippers’ (kids in parent’s pockets) electing to stay at home for an easy life. Is it possible that we’ve simply given up trying to face the challenges that confront us as a generation? Or is it just that it’s increasingly difficult to make a real decision about what to do next? Recently I’ve been thinking more and more that my inability to settle down, which is physically represented by the pile of stuff I keep in my bedroom at home, may be symptomatic of a kind of directionless which is slowly advancing into the psyche of today’s young people. There are so many more opportunities available to us than there were for our elders, yet many of us seem unable to choose one path to take. Speaking to my Auntie on the subject, she confessed that when she got older, there was a definite pressure to, “get a job, get your first place, you know, to settle down”. In a world where achieving these benchmarks of adulthood is proving more and more difficult, is it any wonder that we’re feeling – well – a bit lost? I write this as I plan to jet off again. Having come back from a second season in France followed by the aforementioned camper van travels, my assumption was that I’d finally have to find a ‘proper job’. You know, one that actually allows me to pay rent and doesn’t involve living in a van. But after attending some interviews with tight lipped, pencil-skirted executives, I’m not sure this is something I even want. Maybe I should be thankful to all those nasty bankers who assured the dismal state of the current economy. As a result I’m at liberty to explore my other options. OK, I’ve pretty much been skint for the past five years, I’ve got a huge student debt and I’m no closer to owning any property than England is to ever winning a World Cup bid. On the other hand, I’ve managed to make the most of not being tied to any one place by having some fantastic experiences, learning a lot and meeting loads of different people. Saying that, I’ll always be unashamedly, unreservedly tied to my home town of Newcastle, and I get the feeling that no matter what happens in the next few years, I’ll keep coming home.
novel visited Born Digital, a web-design agency in Gosforth to take a look at their innovative approach to wed-design, where keeping it simple is very much the way forward.
orn Digital is a design & web development business based in Gosforth; specialising in custom online solutions for local and national businesses.They make websites simply and beautifully. Here’s what MD and Head of Born Digital,Alison Gardiner had to say about her business and their new project ‘Pimp my Website’: I’ve had a web company for several years, and in the past I’ve had business partners who didn’t share my vision as to what being a really good company meant. As a result, I’ve never been truly happy with the structure
of my previous businesses. With born digital, that’s all changed. It’s not just a new brand; it’s a whole new business philosophy. With born digital I wanted to surround myself with amazing people. Not because I wanted someone else to do the work for me, but because I wanted to work with people who I could learn from. As a result I don’t employ lots of staff (just 4) but work with over 20 local experts on a project by project basis. This way of working has 2 main advantages; we can reduce costs for our clients (as we have less overheads) and when we choose someone for a particular job, we do so because they have the exact skills required to fulfil the role and not because they are the only member of staff which we have available. In this business I spend a lot of time browsing the internet and attending digital conferences and workshops. I’m often looking for new ideas and technologies, but ultimately I’m searching for ways to make life simpler for us and our clients. At born digital we’re all creatives (and geeks) and we’d love for every project to allow us to really showcase our talent, however, it’s too seldom the case that you come across brave clients who are willing to let go of the reigns and explore the possibilities available when you mix modern technologies and good design.
This was a stumbling block we wanted to surmount, so last month we launched “Pimp my Website”, a new project through which we offered some of our favourite clients a free of charge make-over for their website. Our challenge was to make the best use of available technologies while remaining true to our ethos - “keeping it simple”. We needed to come up with a new design for a website which improved the user interface, simplified processes and had the wow factor, and we had to do it for free (well we didn’t have to, but we’re nice like that). Made Deli was straight in there to snap up our offer. Simon Coplestone (the owner/chef) is a pretty creative guy (you’ll see that if you visit his deli - his food is amazing too) so we thought he’d be open to some new ideas. We brought him in for a workshop and ran through his wish list for a new website. In order to get the most out of this project we had to think outside the box and then, instead of curbing our ideas around typical restraints, we could build the idea and find a way to make it work. To quote Steve Jobs, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” We’ve now completed the design phase, and have begun developing, a spanking new website for Made Deli which ticks as many of those “wishlist” boxes as possible. Please feel free to visit at: made-deli.co.uk
For all your legal requirements - 0191 232 1800 - www.geoffreylurie.com
KK Joinery & Building Ltd. established since 1981 All types of building work undertaken, including loft conversions and refurbishment.
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Tweet @pottsprintuk W www.potts.co.uk E firstname.lastname@example.org T 0845 375 1875 F 01670 735451 Potts Print (UK) Ltd, Atlas House, Nelson Park, Cramlington, Northumberland NE23 1WG UK
Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts, Newcastle University Autumn Programme 2011 Saturday 24th September
11am – 1pm, Percy Building, Newcastle University (£10) Poetry Workshop with Vicki Feaver 2pm, Northern Stage (£4/£2) Neil Astley & Vicki Feaver reading from the Bloodaxe anthology Being Human. Tickets: 0191 230 5151 or online at www.northernstage.co.uk/whats-on Being Human (part of the Festival of Humanity, in association with Northern Stage & Bloodaxe Books).
Thursday 29th September
6.30pm, Curtis Auditorium, Newcastle University. Paul Muldoon, Fire Balloons: The Incendiary Letters of Lowell and Bishop. The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Lecture.
Thursday 13th October
7pm, Culture Lab, Newcastle University Ali Smith discussing her latest novel There but for the with Jackie Kay.
Wednesday 19th October
6pm, Moorbank Botanic Garden, Claremont Road Free to attend, but places must be booked (0191 222 7619, email@example.com). Through the Garden Gate with Linda France.
Tuesday 25th October
7pm, Northern Stage Andrea Levy discussing her novel The Long Song with Jackie Kay. Part of the ONE BOOK reading challenge, run in conjunction with the Booker Prize Foundation.
Tuesday 1st November
7pm, Northern Stage Imitaz Dharker, Joe Dunthorne & John Stammers Jaybird’s What Are They Whispering?
Saturday 5th November
7.30pm, The Sage Gateshead Free to attend, but tickets must be booked (www.thesagegateshead.org or 0191 443 4661). Special live edition of The Verb with Bill Herbert, Jackie Kay & Sean O’Brien in association with R3 Free Thinking Festival.
Thursday 17th November
7pm, Percy Building G.05, Newcastle University. Paul Farley & Michael Symonds-Roberts reading from their joint collection Edgelands: Journeys into England’s Last Wilderness.
Thursday 24th November
7pm, Culture Lab, Newcastle University. Jack Mapanje reading and discussing his memoir And Crocodiles are Hungry at Night with Becky Clarke and Kachi Ozumba.
Thursday 1st December
7pm, Percy Building G.05, Newcastle University. Julia Blackburn & William Fiennes reading from their memoirs Thin Paths & The Music Room.
Monday 5th, Tuesday 6th & Wednesday 7th December
7pm, G.13, Percy Building, Newcastle University. Bloodaxe Poetry Lectures by Professor Sean O’Brien Journeys to the Interior: Ideas of England in Contemporary Poetry. These lectures are free and not ticketed – just turn up!
Thursday 8th December
7pm, G.05, Percy Building, Newcastle University. Peter Bennett and Tony Williams introduced by Sean O’Brien. Tickets: £6 full price, £4 concession (60+/benefits/ full-time student). Available online at www.ncl.ac.uk/ ncla or send a cheque payable to Newcastle University to NCLA, Percy Building, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU.
social unrest theme for issue 5
send your creative contributions to:
firstname.lastname@example.org deadline for submissions October 1st max word limit (1500)