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issue eighteen DEc 13 / JAN 14

different, interesting women are our heroes storing seeds to save the world feather-light shoes made of paper-cut magic how to be creative: sunlight, sea breezes, airport coffee a playlist inspired by Breakfast and farmers and of montreal get back to analogue


this magazine will make you smile and measure your life in the songs you’ve loved make a string of crocheted sausages sketch forgotten shapes plant a tree


oh comely

keep your curiosity sacred editors liz bennett, des tan

deputy editor rosanna durham associate editor dani lurie fashion liz seabrook illustration laura callaghan film jason ward editorial maggie crow, olivia wilson music linnéa enström thanks julia konopka, tamara vos, sophie wright words beth davis, benjamin brill, jemma foster, charlotte humphery, anna godfrey, samantha irby, jenna james, matt lewis, sophia pearson, hannah zeilig pictures francesca jane allen, carl bigmore, hye jin chung, yang du, daniel fraser, anthony gerace, fab gorjian, livi gosling, li hui, louis labron-johnson, danielle kroll, angex lin, stepan obruchkov, andy lo pò, jeremy o’sullivan, hasisi park, michael parkin, mathieu ravier, anna verlet shelton, lydia kasumi shirreff, ellen surrey, ayesha tan-jones, andrew urwin, hannah warren advertising emily knowles, emily.knowles@royalacademy.org.uk feedback and lost property, info@ohcomely.co.uk submissions, words@ohcomely.co.uk or pictures@ohcomely.co.uk oh comely, issue eighteen, dec 13 / jan 14. Published by Adeline Media Ltd six times a year. Third Floor, 116 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6RD. 020 7831 8645. Printed in the UK by The Manson Group. Cover portrait, Ayesha Tan-Jones, Anti-Agency, by Francesca Jane Allen. Jumper and shirt from Beyond Retro. The back cover’s cheeky stamp was discovered among some childhood stationery that had laid undisturbed for ten years. Amazingly, the ink still worked. www.ohcomely.co.uk Contents © 2013 Adeline Media Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission from the publishers, although conscientious and beleaguered fair users can relax and have a cup of tea. The views expressed in oh comely are not necessarily those of the contributors, editors or publishers, or the authors’ mothers. ISSN 2043-9857.


The photos above and on the previous spread are by Li Hui. �This photo was a happy accident when a friend and I were talking about something funny. She kept laughing til she fell off the bed.�


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c o n te n t s it’s nice to see you here

20 cool and thunderous illustrated women with chutzpah and secrets 28 kevin barnes obeys no spirit but his own if you don’t like of montreal’s new album, then that’s just tough

art

30 when the lights go down, my job is done the london film festival’s director savours that moment of cinematic suspense 32 uncommon collections photographs of small museums 54 all-in-one bacon survival handbook a rollicking tale of shipwreck, kidnap, and cured pork

bacon

58 what meat means to me why food tastes like nostalgia and guilt 62 now that is just cheatin’ putting bacon-style rashers to the test

people

68 two hundred percent happy this issue’s cover model on confidence in front of the lens 76 sculpture’s featherweight champion a paper artist and her weightless creations 78 dancing on paper feet sneakers mirrored in paper-cut replicas 84 my sister’s wedding only photos are picture perfect

and

106 parties and empanadas a colombian chef who cooked her way to england 108 a recipe for ají picante colombia’s chilli sauce that’s best served with everything 110 we will grow old a researcher of ageing confronts her own mortality, as her life and study begin to align

40 my life: a soundtrack could you sum up each year of your life in a single song? 42 hanging gardens, figures in the fire inside the mystical visions of singer emilíana torrini 44 the keeper of seeds the millennium seed bank safeguards plants’ tiny parcels 48 outside the giant’s garden clio barnard’s new film bottles a subtle rage on behalf of the dispossessed 64 does the patriarchy worship at the altar of bacon? a meat-eater and feminist talks to the campaigner who says you can’t be both 66 how’s your hot dog, mr hot dog? the creepy, cannibalistic business of food advertising 86 creative workout hints and tips to inspire a clear mind 92 pickled dictators embalmed heads of state, illustrated 98 there’s no g in my g&t a drink? no thanks, I don’t 100 the impunity of evil joshua oppenheimer’s documentary about the perpetrators of indonesia’s mass killings 114 something curious: the quatrefoil draw a simple shape that time forgot 116 I wore a diaper to speed dating samantha irby’s frank and salty personal essay from a life with crohn’s disease 124 muddy lovely testing clay-based beauty products that swine would envy 128 note: lack of human interaction livi gosling draws her day as an illustrator


a christmas subscription! 3 issues and a set of art cards for £8 Treat a friend, a brother or a lover to the Oh Comely Christmas Special: three of our favourite photographs beautifully printed on card, plus a magazine through the letterbox every two months. It’s £2 off the usual subscription price of £10, and we’ll pop a note in wishing your lucky recipient Merry Christmas. The £8 price is UK Direct Debit only, but you’ll get £2 off and a set of cards to anywhere. Offer ends December 14th.

o h c o m e l y. c o. u k / x m a s


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special deliveries letters that made us smile send post to oh comely magazine: third floor, 116 high holborn, wc1v 6rd


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what we listened to songs that made this issue and illustrations by danielle kroll


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what we ate how to make devils on horseback


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some people who helped make this issue the meals they remember and their perfect sunday afternoons livi gosling, illustrator

linnéa enström, music editor

Livi illustrated a pig’s perfect beauty products on page 124, and a day in her life as an illustrator on page 128.

We’re delighted that Linnéa has joined the team as oh comely’s music editor. She spoke to the singer Emilíana Torrini about motherhood and what it means to belong, page 42.

Tell us a little about yourself and your work. I’m an illustrator, art club teacher and glutton. I studied illustration in Cornwall, and I still miss that beautiful corner of the country. I would love to illustrate cookbooks, because sometimes I think photographing food doesn’t say enough. What is your most powerful memory of a meal? Oh, there are so many. I’ve whittled it down to my top two. They both involve cheese. Once, I was persuaded by my socalled friends to fit a ginormous wedge of Cornish brie into my mouth in the middle of our favourite restaurant. It was in no way elegant, but I’m still mightily proud to say I managed it. What do you love most about being an illustrator? I get to read about and draw such a range of interesting things. This year I’ve been fascinated by the intricacies of clockwork tortoises and the amazing history of Scandinavian cuisine.

Tell us about yourself and your work. I had never been to London when I moved here from a windy corner of Sweden. It might seem drastic to some people, but I packed my bag and stepped onto the plane almost automatically. Five years on, I can certainly call this weird, sprawling city of brick my home. Without thinking, I’ve attained two lives that I’m equally attached to, and I often find myself uncomfortably in-between. But as a writer and journalist, feelings of disruption seem adequate. What do you love most about being a music writer? I find it magical that my actual duties are listening to new albums, going to gigs and conversing with extremely driven and talented people. It seems like a day off, right? How do you like your bacon? Crispy to the point of burnt, and with pasta.

Where would we find you on a Sunday afternoon? I would like to say outside, romping around the countryside, but in truth I’m most likely to be at my desk surrounded by empty mugs, ink splatters and crumbs.

Which band or musician is your dream interviewee? Patti Smith, because she is an amazing performer, poet and a true artist. I would ask her about religion and New York and if she wants to move in with me.

www.livigosling.co.uk

mellowandshake.wordpress.com


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anna godfrey, writer

andy lo pò, photographer

A meat-eater and committed feminist, Anna had a thought-provoking conversation with Carol J. Adams, the vegetarian campaigner who believes you shouldn’t be both, page 64.

Andy took portraits of Wolfgang Stuppy from the Millennium Seed Bank, page 44, and film director Joshua Oppenheimer, page 100.

Tell us a little about yourself and your work. Having just graduated from the University of Bristol, I’m currently moseying around in post-grad limbo. This particular limbo takes the form of working in a local café. What do you love most about what you do? The hairnet is a highlight, although we mustn’t overlook the joy of continually burning my hands in the pursuit of the perfect pot of peppermint tea. Where would we find you on a Sunday afternoon? Sunday is a day of rest. So I would, of course, be at work. However, on my cherished Sundays off I spend the afternoon making Ottolenghi-inspired dinners for my family and fantasising about my upcoming travels to South America.

Tell us about yourself and your work. I’m from Australia originally and have been living in London for several years. I studied photography at the London College of Communication and I enjoy shooting a wide range of work, including portraits and landscape-based projects. I love working in a purely visual medium. What is your most powerful memory of a meal? I think it would have to be something my dad, who is Sicilian and worked as a chef, cooks—probably just his simple pasta with courgette and parmesan. Every time I go back to Australia, it’s the first meal he makes for me. How do you like your bacon? If it’s streaky, then crispy please.

What is your most memorable food moment? Watching my granny making apple sandwiches on Whippersnapper white bread.

Your work takes you to distant places. Tell us about a happy accident from one such trip. I recently bumped into a policeman in the middle of the empty desert in Qatar. He let me photograph him and his colleagues before they jumped into their 4x4 and sped off leaving a trail of desert dust behind, with Moves Like Jagger blasting from the open windows.

twitter.com/AnnaGodfrey4

www.andylopo.com

How do you like your bacon? Sunny side up.


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breakfast served all day a menu of crocheted sausages and hand-stamped baked beans curated by olivia wilson feeling hungry? everything on the page is up for grabs, so drop a line to free@ohcomely.co.uk by the end of december to win something tasty

Extra Bacon. £6.38

Chef’s Special. £30.00

These bacon bookmarks are embroidered with 16,264 stitches by mother and daughter Jordyn and Lana. jadewink.etsy.com

Little Gretel Press make these hand-pulled linocut prints and they’re perfect for dining room walls. folksy.com/shops/ NaomiMidgley


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Ultimate Breakfast Platter. £45.00 This ceramic plate by illustrator Alex Sickling was inspired by Wuthering Heights. www.alexsickling.co.uk

Sausage Surprise. £2.55

Mug of Tea. £3.49

Full English Breakfast. £37.03

Crochet a chain of sausages with this pattern by The Flying Dutchman Crochet Design. etsy.com/uk/shop/ VliegendeHollander

There is nothing everyday about tea by Teapigs: whole leaf tea at its best. We have a Real Tea Cheeky Deal to give away. teapigs.co.uk

Make cards that look good enough to eat with this handcarved rubber stamp set. etsy.com/uk/shop/ talktothesun


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rock a fried egg dress from the rodnik band Inspired by the pop art movement, The Rodnik Band’s collection will help you in your quest for a dress like a giant banana, a cheese or Marcel Duchamp’s urinal. Plenty more of their clothes are both deliciously fun and decidedly wearable. There’s no other clothing brand we could have dropped a line to requesting their ”best breakfast-themed prints” and received anything other than a bemused silence in response. Oh, there is? You should let us know. Tell us the story of The Rodnik Band. I started importing Russian scarves and sold them in fancy boxes with a story of a long-forgotten shop in Moscow. I had just graduated with a degree in philosophy, and I didn’t even have any fashion training. Collections formed through adventures and the Rodnik spirit was

born. The style of the label was born out of the idea that fun clothes make fun things happen. They are a catalyst for energy and spirit. We like the idea of wearable art, that your clothing is taken off the wall and worn. Can you tell us a little more about this? Designers often see creativity as pushing the physical boundaries of design and overlook the contextual nature of creation. By changing the way you look at something, the thing you look at changes. I like the idea of presenting clothes as art instead of fashion. I love surrealism and believe fashion’s greatest value is escapism. Take the art off the wall and wear it! How do you dress for breakfast? All black with red socks. The Rodnik Band / www.therodnikband.com


Making your craft remarkable? It’s quite an art. Get crafty with customised Business Cards, Stickers and more.

Want to make some MOO? Get 100 free* MiniCards. moo.com/ohcomely *offer excludes shipping


the best time to plant a tre e i s t we n t y y e a r s a g o , the second bes t time is now

join us on a tree-growing competition that runs until 2033; your time starts now In 2034, if we’re still here and you’re still here, we’ll meet again. We’ll print pictures of the grown-up trees in the magazine. To enter, email tree@ohcomely.co.uk by July with a photo of your sapling. Photo Li Hui.


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cool and thunderous interview rosanna durham

laura callaghan draws young women and their dark secrets

Laura Callaghan is an Irish illustrator. She uses watercolour and tiny pens to construct detailed renditions of bedrooms, cafés and city streets wherein she draws cool and thunderous young women not giving a shit as they go about their daily lives. Laura’s been based in London since graduating from her MA in Illustration in 2010, and a member of the oh comely team as illustration editor for a good three years. We’re sad to say goodbye, but that didn’t stop us exploiting the chance to ask her plenty of questions, both nosy and surreal.

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Tell me about your home country of Ireland and how your national identity is asserted, or otherwise, in your UK life. I find the issue of national identity an interesting one. It was something I had given absolutely no thought to until I came over here. Moving to a new country on your own, it’s the one thing that you cling to, a constant. I’m from Dundalk, an industrial town near the Northern Irish border. I love it—it’s home—but it’s not the prettiest place on earth. There’s something darker about the north east; it’s Patrick McCabe territory. Maybe it has influenced the more morose aspects of my work, as I try to steer clear of creating images that are too saccharine. In the past year or so, I’ve noticed that strong woman have made an assertive presence in your self-initiated illustrations. Can you talk a little about the character dramas that you draw? I’ve always been drawn to strong female characters in literature and film. I favour a sullen Clea DuVall over a Shiny any day. Self-initiated work is a chance to draw whatever I want and I naturally gravitate towards these characters. There’s a narrative thread running through all my pieces. My work process is long and meticulous so I like adding a back story and hidden elements to a painting to keep me entertained on the way! I try to imagine what the character would wear,


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eat, read. What would be hanging on her walls? What is on her mind? Usually it’s something sinister. How has your illustration style developed over the years? It’s unrecognisable from the work I was producing four or five years ago! I was on quite a traditional graphic design course and my foray into illustration was self-directed: clumsy-gawky cartoonish characters and lots of thick gouache paint! The big breakthrough came when I moved to London and was properly introduced to watercolour by a classmate. I only gained confidence in my style the year after I left my MA. I was working full-time with limited free time to spend drawing, so I stopped producing work that I thought would garner me jobs and started working in a style that I actually enjoyed. It’s still developing now, though. I can look at work made as recently as six months ago and cringe. I’ve now learned to finish something, post it online and never look back. Tell us about your work at oh comely, and what you’ve learnt while working at the magazine. Freelancing can be isolating and insular and working for the magazine has meant I’ve stayed involved in the illustration community. At university you’re taught how to

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objectively dissect and criticise work, but once you’ve left it tends to degenerate into ”I like that” or ”I don’t like that.” Working for oh comely has taught me to appreciate a wide variety of styles and discover new illustrators that I wouldn’t necessarily have been drawn to otherwise. It’s important to consider if an artist is right for a piece and not just commission work I personally love. This has spilled over into my own work also. I have trouble saying no to work, but now I think, ”Am I right for this? Will I do this justice?” before accepting jobs. What projects are you working on today? I’m working on a series of illustrations for a UK high street retailer’s Christmas campaign, a book illustration based on Dostoyevsky and an exciting fashion project that I can’t say much about yet. I’ve been trying to work on a narrative project of my own in between jobs. It’s inching along at a snail’s pace, but I really hope to throw myself into it in the new year. Picture this: London is a sea creature. You are a swimmer in the sea. What’s the story, what happens in the end? I imagine London as the kraken. I’m swimming against the current in sub-zero temperatures desperately trying not to get eaten, but the view along the way is nice. Find more of Laura’s work at: lauracallaghanillustration.com.

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I believe there’s a core self, before life endows you with decorations. Emilíana Torrini, page 44


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yena ku, by hasisi park


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Photos from top: Susie Martinez, Nina Barnes, Bekah C (lower two).


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kevin barnes obeys no spirit but his own words matt lewis

of montreal’s frontman thinks his parents will like the new album even if the fans don’t

Kevin Barnes is a restless spirit. Over the course of the last sixteen years, his band, Of Montreal, has released no fewer than twelve studio albums. He has garnered inspiration from the unlikeliest of sources, fusing disparate genres and crafting his own unique pop vision. Lousy with Sylvianbriar, the band’s latest full-length album, represents something of a volte-face for Kevin. Where previous albums consisted of maximalist, often avant-garde compositions made on a laptop, the new material was recorded live and hearkens back to the counter-culture rock of the sixties and seventies. I sat down with him to discuss his new material, and what it means to be an artist in the twenty-first century. The sound of Lousy with Sylvianbriar is very different from your most recent work. I wanted to do something more intimate and not as ornamental, a record that you could play with an acoustic guitar. So I went out to San Francisco and had a writing retreat. I got an apartment and lived by myself. No distractions, no social life to speak of. I focussed on writing on acoustic guitar, which I hadn’t done in a long time, and that brought something to the surface. I don’t think songs have to be difficult to play or extremely complicated for them to be good. A lot of times—I probably suffer from this myself—trying to make it unpredictable or something that’s interesting to me doesn’t mean it’s going to be listenable. The whole album is recorded on a 24-track tape. Why did you revert to analogue? I’ve made the last five or six records on my own, piecing them together one instrument at a time and working on them for months. I wanted this record to feel more spontaneous and for it to have a strong life force, for it to feel, ”This is a moment in time.” I’ve been falling in love recently with late sixties and early seventies rock and country—that early period for those genres before they started getting terrible and cheesy. A lot of those classic records, the

reason they feel so alive and exciting is because the music was so fresh. They don’t feel like something that was laboured over, they feel like something that the band has kicked out pretty quickly. That’s what I was hoping to accomplish—that sense of spontaneity and excitement. I wanted to make something that felt more human and flawed. You’re more naked recording analogue; what you record is what you play. Someone messes up, you just have to do the whole song again. It forces you to become a better musician and work on your craft. What does the name Lousy with Sylvianbriar refer to? There’s a Sylvia Plath poem called Leaving Early and the first line goes something like, ”Lady, your room is lousy with flowers.” I had never thought of ’lousy’ in that sense before, to be full of something. And then I realised the album is full of sylvianbriar, a term I made up. It means some kind of ivy or tree. Do you think people will see your move towards acoustic as a more commercial move? I don’t know. Are there other people doing that right now? It never occurs to me; it’s impossible to predict what people are going to think. Maybe everyone will hate the sound of acoustic guitar and only want to hear electronica. My parents will probably like it more. What I mean is your last couple of albums were admired, but they had a reputation for being quite dense and difficult to get in to. They were perhaps not loved as much. Everything is always evolving and changing. Not that I would ever recommend this, but if you listen to our earlier records, they’re very different from Hissing Fauna or False Priest or Paralytic Stalks or this new record. So I’ve always changed. I don’t feel like there’s a true Of Montreal. It’s this fluid thing that is constantly changing at my whim. I never really think commercially. Whatever I’m interested in at the time, I’m going to do and I don’t care how it affects my career. Lousy with Sylvianbriar is out now.


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when the lights go down, my job is done words jason ward, portrait mathieu ravier | the festivalists

lunch with the london film festival’s director clare stewart on one of the busiest days of her year

The phone rings off and on again. Outside Clare Stewart’s office, the BFI Southbank is thrumming with activity. With the London Film Festival and its 230 films steadily approaching, the commotion is understandable. As the festival’s director, Clare spends much of the autumn as the city’s busiest person; her life, she explains, is currently broken up into fifteen-minute intervals. Technically, the two she spends with me are her lunch break, but an ill-attended soup is the only real evidence of the fact. Clare speaks with an intensity that’s almost overpowering, but one gets the impression that her keenness doesn’t spring from impatience or from the perpetually ringing telephone. Coiled and fervent on the sofa, she brims with manifest eagerness to talk about her ardor for film programming, soup be damned. What’s your favourite part of your job? Negotiating 230 films into the festival is a huge undertaking, but I love it. The exchange that goes on between the sales agents, the distributors, the filmmakers themselves. There are all sorts of considerations: will the film come into the festival, what position will we give it, where will it screen? There’s a great deal of responsibility but it’s also an exhilarating moment when you realise you’re introducing that film to a UK audience for the first time. The lights go down and you can feel this palpable sense of excitement, because the audience are seeing this film for the first time. I always get such a sense of professional satisfaction in that moment because of how much effort has gone into getting that work on that screen, but it all appears easy and effortless. How were you first drawn to film programming? I studied both production and film theory, and I couldn’t reconcile the two. I decided that I needed to see more films so I started volunteering for my local cinémathèque. I discovered that what I loved was connecting films with audiences. It reconciles the two because you’re thinking about the film critically in the way you might if you were working in an academic context, but you’re also thinking about what’s gone into the production and how you bring those two things together to engage

an audience. It started as a bit of a compromise, but I stumbled into what I feel I have a real skill for. You used to be the director of the Sydney Film Festival. I wonder how much your choices relate to the city itself. What challenges are specific to London? London has a long heritage of film culture being really loved and protected and admired and looked after. We have a very loyal audience base, but that also meant that we have to think about, well, how do you expand the festival? How do you open it up for new audiences and make it feel accessible for someone who may find 230 films a daunting proposition if they’ve never been to a film festival before? London has many cultural hubs, not just one. While its moviegoing heartland is in Leicester Square and at the BFI, we understood the value in expanding out to venues in other boroughs. How do you balance commercial instincts against the impulse to show more challenging works? The whole process of programming is about the mix. You’re looking at it from all sorts of angles: some films have great integrity as works of cinema, some are popular and open the festival up to a wider audience, some are very hardcore experimental works, and there’s also everything on the scale in between. You look at that full spectrum to try and create a perfect mix on just about every matrix that you can, so there’s everything from very low budget independent works with great vision through to something that’s technically immaculate and intensive and grand scale. Do you like going to other film festivals, or does it always feel like you’re at work? I love the differences between festivals. For people who don’t travel to different festivals around the world, there’s a sense they’re all the same, but each one has a unique way of doing things and engaging their audience and the industry. Of course, when you’re seeing your first film at eight in the morning and then four or five more, meeting with sales agents in between, then you’re off to the reception circuit in the evening and crawling to bed past midnight and getting up and doing it all again, that can certainly feel like work. But I love the atmosphere of a film festival. I thrive on it.


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uncommon coll ections photos anthony gerace, words rosanna durham

i n s i d e th e i d i o s y n c ra t i c d i s p l a ys of l o n d o n ’s s m a l l m u s e u m s

In London’s small museums, you’ll encounter everything one expects of a collection—antiques, valuables, curiosities—but just as quickly you’ll stumble upon the personal histories of the founding collectors. These museums were developed from someone’s singular interest in a category of object, and have held out against the inconstant support of funding bodies and guidebooks. They are cargo ships full of overlooked possessions, steering a slow course into the future. Anthony Gerace photographed the Fan Museum, Pollock’s Toy Museum, and the Cinema Museum. He was drawn to these places for their obsessive interest in a corner of history displayed in an idiosyncratic manner: toy paper theatres, cinema attendant uniforms, 18th-century European fans.

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pollock’s toy museum Pollock’s Toy Museum houses the playthings of children long grown elderly. Here you’ll find paper theatres, teddy bears, lead figures, nursery furniture and more. The collection is scattered over rooms connected by a spiral staircase and the dolls encroach on the space, making an impressive point of it with their unblinking plastic eyes. Pollock’s is run by the grandson of the founder, Marguerite Fawdry, who bought the complete stock of a paper theatre manufacturer, Benjamin Pollock, and opened a museum of children’s toys in 1956. Pollock’s Toy Museum / www.pollockstoymuseum.com


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the cinema museum With its piles of cinema ephemera—swirly carpets, ticket stubs, attendant uniforms, hand-cranked projectors—the Cinema Museum is truly the place where cinemas go to be dissected. It’s somewhere that collects up the pieces of the industry’s analogue past and lovingly clutters them together, housed in the appropriately Victorian Lambeth Workhouse. In a further twist of movie history, Charlie Chaplin is rumoured to have taken refuge in this workhouse as a child when his mother faced destitution. The Cinema Museum / www.cinemamuseum.org.uk

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the fan museum Set in a Georgian townhouse in Greenwich, the Fan Museum was opened by Helene Alexander in 1991. Her office (right) is off from one of the galleries and, while officially out of bounds to visitors, is a microcosm of its own and worth a look round the door if you can wrangle it. A small study, a beautiful desk, a view onto the manicured garden and a tea set at the ready; this is where the director sits and receives her guests. The museum is fuelled by Alexander’s steadfast conviction that the fan is not, as popularly understood, an old-fashioned accessory, but rather a work of art in its own right. Her own collection, started back in the 1960s, formed the basis of the archive and there’s a feel of the family home about the place. You can take afternoon tea in the orangery downstairs. The Fan Museum / www.thefanmuseum.org.uk


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my life: a soundtrack words maggie crow, illustration hannah warren

could you sum up each year of your life in a single song?

At 3am last Wednesday, I caught myself in an internet consumption k-hole after clicking a link to a new song by Rodrigo Amarante, a Brazilian musician who was a member of the band Little Joy. The smooth timbre of his voice was so distinctive it immediately brought me back to 2008 when I listened to the Little Joy album obsessively. Back then I was in my final year of university in Montreal, living in a primarily French-speaking neighbourhood with an Austrian roommate and feeling generally worldly and grown-up. To top it off, I was madly in love with an Australian guy I’d met on exchange in Melbourne, and we were trying to make it work, which I thought was mature. I clicked link after link, listening to one song, then another, in a sort of YouTube-fuelled time warp. Little Joy was so emblematic of that year that I wondered whether it would be possible to boil other years down, extract their essence, solely based on the music I had listened to. That’s when I decided to try to make the playlist: one year, one defining song, from 2001 to now. The soundtrack to my post-pubescent life. I say try, because I hadn’t made a playlist in ages, and I wasn’t sure that I could find a song for each year that would be able to transport me the way that listening to Little Joy did. Surprisingly, the first few years were easy. I knew that Is This It by The Strokes had to be on it, and John Mayer was deeply involved in the heady days of my early teens. The most recent years were also relatively simple to pin down, because I had listened to music almost non-stop in the lab while working on my PhD. All I had to do was conjure up the image of sitting at a microscope and I could picture myself looking at my phone and choosing to listen to Great Bloomers again, and again. But what came in between was hazy. I sat and made notes about what had happened between 2003 and 2007, trying to decipher what had been important to me, who was important to me, what I had done. I finished high school, I’d been involved in theatre, I moved away from home for the first time. But none of those triggers seemed to work. I couldn’t remember who I was. As I thought about it more, it started to make me squirm. I had a creeping suspicion that the reason I couldn’t remember was because I hadn’t really been myself. I had spent so much of that time imitating my peers, wanting to be liked, and trying desperately to eschew my deep-seated earnestness for the sort of detached elegance that I attributed to the girls in my class who never seemed to sweat in gym— the girls with shiny blonde hair who went to parties with older guys and always wore the perfect Roxy sweatshirt. So I started listening to

music that I thought would lend me some of their coolness. I became a leading expert on Jack Johnson to try to get closer to a boy I liked. I dyed my hair blonde. Then I went to university. I started wearing skinny jeans. I dated a boy in a band who told me I had to listen to The Smiths, and I did. I made lasagne. I made creative, brilliant friends. And, along the way, I started to grow up. When I listen to 1234 by Feist, I picture the first summer I spent doing research in Toronto, pounding the hot pavement downtown to get to the hospital, feeling excited to be working on a project that was so much bigger than myself. One of the songs that still makes me happiest is Go Outside. I heard it for the first time on a music blog in 2010, and it quickly rose through the ranks and into my Top 25 Most Played. 2010 was a big year. I broke up with the Australian, chose a PhD project that I was passionate about, and started dating one of the kindest people I have ever known. When I played Go Outside for him for the first time, he couldn’t stop giggling. For him, it brought to mind the image of kids in a row boat, paddling in time. Every time the song played, we would both start pretending to row, and laugh hysterically. My relationship with this playlist is complicated. Its mere existence makes me feel vulnerable, like I’ll be outed for having the wrong music in my life. So many of the songs make me cringe that I doubt I’ll ever be able to listen to it from start to finish. But the process of making it gave me the chance to trace the path to where I am today. In spite of my best efforts, I’m still painfully earnest and no amount of mimicry can change that. Over time I’ve learned to embrace it. And now, I step to the beat of my own drum. Or row, as the case may be. 2001. Why Georgia, John Mayer 2002. Is This It, The Strokes 2003. California, Phantom Planet 2004. Taylor, Jack Johnson 2005. Lebanese Blonde, Thievery Corporation 2006. Strange Powers, Magnetic Fields 2007. 1234, Feist 2008. The Next Time Around, Little Joy 2009. The Young Ones Slept, Great Bloomers 2010. When I’m With You, Best Coast 2011. Go Outside, Cults 2012. So Long Marianne, Leonard Cohen


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hanging gardens, figures in the fire words linnéa enström, portrait andrew urwin

this year emilíana torrini moved back to iceland, watched her baby son grow, and continued breathing her unique visions into song

There is something about Emilíana Torrini’s voice that invites the listener to explore her inner world, a place where visions become songs. It could be the casual honesty with which she speaks of her life and dreams, or perhaps it’s the melodious sound of her Icelandic accent. The petite musician made an impression on the British indie populace back in 2008 with the record Me and Armini. Since then, she has given birth to a son, carved lyrics out of nothing and moved back to Iceland after almost twenty years in the UK. I met Emilíana in the corner of a Scandinavian café. Slumped over coffee and a cinnamon bun, we talked about the intangible sides of life, like homecomings and creative flow. What characterises your new album, Tookah? Very abstract and full of feeling. It has a definite landscape for me. I see mountains that grow bigger and bigger, like mountain gardens. The record is also about joining two sides of myself, because in extreme situations I can split myself in two. I don’t think the self can ever be described as an entity. I agree. Even if you’re with someone for fifteen years, you never really know them because the inner world is so strong and such a big part of you. You only know the outer. I can’t even explain the overwhelming love I felt when my son was born. There’s this spell you put on yourself, where everything is about your child and the only thing you want to do is wrap them in safety. But even though I was at the most joyous point of my life, there was another side of me that was deeply down. I almost became two people, but one was silent and invisible. There’s a core self, before life endows you with decorations. That’s what I call Tookah. You have to join the two together. You can’t have one without the other or you will go mad. Has becoming a mother influenced you musically? Definitely. It’s possibly the only thing I’ve done in life that really matters. It’s incredible what babies teach you, like having your own little guru in the house if

you just listen. Nothing shows you who you are in the same way. It’s a mirror and a journey. Was it because of your son that you decided to move back to Iceland? No. My partner got his dream job in Iceland, so he said, ”Pack your bags, we’re going!” How does it feel to be back home? The words ’going home’ feel so final. The fact is, though, that you have to start again, just like you would anywhere else. The song Home was written when I found out that I was going back. I was very confused at the time, but as I wrote the song I became calm. I realised that I’ve finally found home, right here with my baby and partner, and it doesn’t matter where we are in the world. What happens when you write music? Usually, I collect material subconsciously and when I improvise, it comes out. I’m very visual. In my mind, I walk into a room with a big screen and I become the narrator of the story. The difference with this album was that the screen was completely blank. I was really frightened. Melodies are never a problem, but I’m very passionate about the lyrics. This time, I had nothing. I was having a baby, I wasn’t sleeping, I was just having a magical time and I didn’t give a shit about my thoughts. At first, it was literally about trying to fill sentences. Then something clicked and I knew what I had to do. That was amazing, knowing that I have a trigger. What do you think changed? When you have to do something, you just get on with it. I’ve always wanted to be a craftswoman and this record pushed me there: I had to craft every lyric out of nowhere. The middle section of Blood Red took me three months to write. It was really hard to find the imagery, until at last I saw these naked bodies entwining in a fire, like snakes in an Egyptian world, very mystical and beautiful. How has growing up in Iceland shaped you as a musician? I guess I have a healthy dose of Icelandic arrogance. I’m very uncompromising with what I do. Since Iceland is so small, it has always been easy to make your dreams come true. Tookah is out now.


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the keeper of seeds words sophia pearson, photos andy lo pò

the millennium seed bank is our last line of defence against the destruction of biodiversity

Set to one side within the beautiful botanic grounds of Wakehurst Place in West Sussex is the Millennium Seed Bank, a modern airy building with a quiet and industrial atmosphere. The seed bank is the largest off-site plant conservation project in the world, collecting and storing viable seeds from endangered plants across the globe. It already contains 10% of the world’s bankable wild plant species, and by 2020 it aims to have increased that to 25%. The actual bank underneath the building lies behind a large vaulted door set into steel walls, a huge concrete cube built to last at least five hundred years. Within it are walk-in freezers, running at a rather fresh minus 20°C. Here the seeds are stored, having been tested and dried. It is an impressive project, both in aesthetic and ambition, but as the project’s seed morphologist, Wolfgang Stuppy, says, ”As amazing as it looks, the reason we are here is not very nice.” We sat down to talk in a sun-filled courtyard and, as Wolfgang spoke to me, it was clear that his calm manner belied an intense engagement with his work and the world. What makes seeds special to study? They are little self-contained parcels. You can study them on their own, because they detach from plants and grow into a new plant. A seed is a self-contained unit with its own ecological history, and I find that fascinating. Your work involves engaging a wide audience in the project; do you think that narrative between science and the public is important? It is one of the most important things; the days when you could just sit in your cupboard and do your research are over. Looking at the environmental problems, they are mounting up; I think there’s never been a more important time for scientists to get out of the cupboard and communicate what they know to the public. People care for what they love—sheer facts don’t usually do it. I’ve stopped telling people how bad it is, but rather how beautiful the environment is.


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I heard someone say the other day, ”Martin Luther King didn’t say, ’I have a nightmare.’ He said, ’I have a dream.’” It’s simplistic, I know, but do you think there is a problem with environmental coverage being too negative? Personally, I think it’s realistic, because the situation is really bad. We know we’re going to hit a wall at some point. No one knows when it will happen, but it doesn’t look like there will be a happy ending.

It’s human nature that everybody wants the good stuff. What can an individual do? We are so tightly strapped in to the system: you have to have a mortgage, you’ve got to pay the bills. You’re wearing a corset. If you have kids like I have, you couldn’t possibly put that at risk by opting out of the system, so you just go with the crowd. It’s the tragedy of the commons; it’s a catch 22.

Is that what the Millennium Seed Bank is aspiring to do, provide a buffer? Our whole existence as humans is dependent on functioning ecosystems based on healthy diversity. Plants together with animals provide a life support system for everything on earth. What humans are doing now is taking parts out of the life support system. The Millennium Seed Bank is keeping spare parts for the life support system, that’s how I see it.

The scale of the problem is too big. It’s impossible, and politicians are voted in for four or five years. We are talking about consequences in twenty, fifty years. As a politician I want to win the next election; how pressing are scenarios twenty years in the future?

For example, we are working with the Global Crop Diversity Trust on a crop wild relative project, so we are going to collect seeds of wild species that are related to very important crops, and the germplasm of those wild species will then be given to breeders to come up with new varieties. Behavioural change is a slow, social process, but could this spark a shift in how society deals with the environment? If you look at the UK, you might think that change is feasible, but if you look globally there is culture, religion, the time it would take for everybody to understand what is happening... Things need to change now. If ecological collapse does happen, it won’t be gradual; there is no gradual reduction in consumption and resource depletion. It is abrupt. It’s like Lehman Brothers; they come in pinstripe suits and ties on Friday and on Monday they have all gone out with their boxes because the whole thing has imploded. It collapsed very, very quickly. If politicians had taken this on board twenty years ago, could we have started to adapt? No, it is unstoppable. Capitalism is unstoppable.

Shale gas is an example of that. It’s money. No one’s going to leave billions of pounds in the ground. What government would want to tell their people they have to cut their living standards for the sake of the environment? And this doesn’t put you off your work? You have to live your life. There could be a comet on the way to earth tomorrow, and then climate change doesn’t matter anymore. There could be a pandemic. If you get depressed all the time it doesn’t help. What the Millennium Seed Bank does, I think, makes good sense. If there is an ecological collapse, at least we have seeds we can use to recreate something like semi-natural habitats. You are still intrigued by the biology of seeds. Yes, I think it is amazing. And there has never been a more interesting time to be alive than today. I want to know what happens, I want to see when we reach a point when people start to make changes. You should know what is going on, but if you despair you don’t help anyone. If you fight you can lose; if you don’t fight you have already lost. The Millennium Seed Bank / www.kew.org/msbp


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Ricinus Communis Euphorbiaceae Better known as castor beans, these seeds are where castor oil comes from, a very useful substance used in a range of products such as cosmetics, lubricants, biodiesel and also in medicinal terms to, err, help one go. If you are going to use this as a relief method please note small doses only, otherwise there will be painfully explosive consequences.

Ravenala Madagascariensis These seeds belong to a tree that grows in Madagascar, known often as Traveller’s Tree. The blue of the papery covering is a very rare colour in plant life, and perhaps a clue to their method of dispersal. Wolfgang speculates that this may be an interesting example of co-adaptation of plant and animal life. Madagascar doesn’t have many bird species so plants have had to find alternative dispersers for their seeds. These ones rely on lemurs, who find the seed coatings a tasty morsel, and because of their dichromatic vision are attracted by the blue. Abrus Precatorius Leguminosae Often called Crab’s Eye or Rosary Pea, these little seeds come from a plant found throughout the tropics. Eyecatching in colour, they are attractive to birds, though sadly for the birds their hard shells make them indigestible. The seeds pass through unharmed and nicely dispersed. They’re also often used as beads for jewellery. Perhaps problematically they happen to contain abrin, one of the most lethal plant poisons around with symptoms including (depending on dose) irritation, cough, blindness, seizures and death.

Strelitzia Reginae Strelitziaceae These belong to the bird of paradise or crane flower, a native of South Africa, and now popular as an ornamental and in flower arrangements. It was first brought over to the UK by Sir Joseph Banks in 1773, the then director of Kew Gardens, who named it in honour of the wife of King George III, Charlotte the Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelit. She was herself a keen amateur botanist who helped with the gardens’ expansion and in fact died in Kew Palace.

Another treat within these seeds is ricin, a highly toxic substance with a notorious history—see Georgi Markov’s assassination and, more recently, Breaking Bad.

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outside the giant’s garden words jason ward, portrait carl bigmore

clio barnard quietly rages against the dispossession of children in her film the selfish giant

”I was thinking recently about the nationalisation of electricity, and how I grew to love pylons,” Clio Barnard says, a glimmer in her eye. Clio’s fondness for transmission towers was stoked whilst writing her latest film, The Selfish Giant, as she discovered the ’Pylon Poets’ of the 1930s. Left-wing and modernist, the Pylon Poets believed that industry and technology could bring a form of emancipation to the common man. ”Pylons are incredibly beautiful objects, but it’s more than that,” she explains. ”For one brief period, before the railways and other resources were privatised, they belonged to everybody instead of to just a few.” That time is, of course, long gone, and The Selfish Giant portrays that loss as devastating. Set in contemporary Bradford, the film focusses on Arbor, a troubled, desperately poor thirteen-year-old who scavenges copper to sell to a guileful scrap dealer. Whilst the pylons dotting the landscape serve as a reminder of Bradford’s post-industrial decline, it is Arbor’s heartbreakingly limited circumstances that epitomise The Selfish Giant’s indictment of Thatcherite policies. It was during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership, long before Arbor was even born, that state-controlled companies like British Gas, British Airways and British Telecom were privatised, the commitment to providing full employment abandoned, and council houses sold off in their millions. ”Perhaps it’s a bit idealistic and naïve of me, and maybe people stole cable when the railways and electricity were nationalised, but I can’t help but see the effects,” Clio says. ”There’s something about being so on the margin where even the idea of having a commute to work is completely meaningless, and so everything’s up for grabs.” A social-realist drama in the tradition of child-centered classics like Kes and The 400 Blows, The Selfish Giant is one of the year’s most moving films. It is also one of the year’s most political films, but furthers its arguments in a beautifully understated fashion: even though it implies that everything that happens to Arbor is ultimately the result of government directives from decades before, Clio avoids proselytising, leaving the audience to connect the dots for themselves. ”It was a conscious decision that the messages in the film would be unspoken. Sometimes I’d worry that it wouldn’t come across, that it needed to be more explicit, but from the responses I’ve had, it seems to have worked. It’s not absolutely down the line, there’s room for interpretation.” Drawn to Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale The Selfish Giant, Clio wanted to make a fable about greed: ”A fable appears to be a very simple story, but when you scratch away it becomes complex. It’s a really difficult thing to do.” As an artist and a documentary filmmaker, Clio’s desire to create a fairly straightforward story was a departure. The Selfish Giant’s roots can be found in her debut feature, The Arbor, an audacious documentary

about the tragic Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar. Filmed on the street where the dramatist lived (Brafferton Arbor, with which The Selfish Giant’s protagonist shares his name), the documentary featured actors lip-syncing to recordings of Dunbar’s relatives and neighbours. ”The Arbor was quite complicated structurally, and had this formal experimentation, whereas The Selfish Giant is relatively simple,” Clio says, ”But if it’s simple, I hope it’s deceptively so.” Whilst making The Arbor, Clio got to know the children who would hang around the estate as they filmed. ”In a way, Wilde’s original story is about the dangers of excluding children. It seemed that a lot of the children I met while making The Arbor were excluded—literally, from school—but also by being pushed to the margins because of an increasing gap between wealth and poverty.” One of the boys she met, Matty, became the inspiration for Arbor. After briefly contemplating making a documentary about him, Clio decided to fictionalise his story instead. ”One of the peculiar things I found was that what was happening to him in real life was more extreme that what we did in the fictional version. A gunman came to his house and Matty managed to hold the door against him, but if you put that within a film it would be kind of clichéd. Sometimes when you’re telling a story you have to cut out the stuff that’s really happening because it’s too familiar on screen.” Clio instead concentrated on the thriving horse and cart subculture that she had first discovered ten years earlier. ”In Bradford it’s almost a craze for teenage boys to go out on a horse and cart collecting scrap,” she explains. ”Part of what fascinated me is that there’s a timelessness about it. There’s something that connects back to Victorian England and Dickens.” It was in the re-appropriation of materials that Clio found a surprising postscript to British industry’s deterioration. ”It reflects a shift in the global economy. Detroit has a massive scrap metal trade, like Bradford. All of these big post-industrial cities are gathering all of this copper and then it gets sent to China.” By using horses and carts to recycle the detritus of industry, the children are accidentally green in their methods, a practice born out of necessity. Marginalised but resourceful, Arbor—like his real-life counterpart—is drawn into a difficult working life that a thirteen-year-old shouldn’t have to abide. Clio’s subtle, powerful argument is that the exploitation of the disadvantaged is the logical endpoint of a society that values revenue above people. Ultimately, the film’s selfish giant is not the scrap dealer who profits from the hardships of children, but the libertarian principles that allow him to prosper. The Selfish Giant is out now.


Meat is twenty-four happy Christmas dinners; meat is sausages cooked on driftwood beach fires on my birthdays; meat is my mother’s spaghetti carbonara when I’m upset. Giving up meat feels like a small betrayal of these memories and a guarantee that neither they nor their associated happiness could be repeated. Charlotte Humphery, page 58


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liao chen, by jeremy o’sullivan, taken in the gobi desert while suffering an intense bout of food poisoning


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a conversation about bacon


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To me, bacon is an earthy, salty butty. Bacon is the ‘cats of food’: the internet is obsessed. You can make plasters out of it, and it will draw out a splinter. You can use it to fuel your car, power a storm lantern, fix a squeaky door (p54). I’ve never even tried it, and I hate the smell. It smells sickly and greasy and reminds me of hangovers (p62). Bacon is delicious, but it disturbs me ethically (p58 and p64). Did you know that tattoo artists practice on pig skin? When my housemate was training to be a tattoo artist, I would come home to lumps of meat in the freezer with elaborate designs on them. I know a family in Canada that raise and slaughter a pig each year. There are photos of them all wearing bloody aprons. Pigs roll in mud because they don’t sweat. How about mud-based beauty products (p124)? Can you measure the sizzle of bacon? I wonder if we could get a picture of Kevin Bacon frying bacon. When I was at uni, I could cook and eat an English breakfast in 13 minutes. When you have bacon in your mouth, you don’t care who’s president. I used to be obsessed with bacon when I was younger, but really it’s just salty meat (p126).


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all-in-one bacon survival h andbook words jemma foster

wil l b a c o n p rove a n un l i ke l y h ero o r j u s t a l i m p pi e c e of m e a t ?

Last Valentine’s Day, a friend sent me a care package filled with bacon candy, bacon soap and a creative array of bacon accessories, topped off by a pair of laughing rasher socks. Printed on a card were the words, ”Because we both hate all that Valentine’s Day crap... Here’s some bacon.” I am not alone in my love affair, but for me it runs deeper than most. For some it is a dirty secret, a mistress hidden at the back of the fridge, but bacon and I are in a committed relationship. I would do anything for bacon, but how far would bacon go for me? Would bacon save me? Would he prove to be an unconventional hero or just a bit of a sausage?

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save a road trip

survive shipwreck

signal for rescue

light a campfire

A road trip through the remote Scottish Highlands is thwarted when the fuel gage hits empty and your campervan rolls to a standstill. Fortunately it has a diesel engine, you are by a stream and brought a healthy supply of bacon and vodka. First, refine the bacon fat by adding alcohol to remove the glycerine, then wash with water to remove any impurities. Pour into the fuel tank and away you go.

Washing up on a remote island after your cruise ship sank, you find that you and a large pig are the only inhabitants. A close bond forms between you and your trottered companion and when he dies of natural causes you cannot bring yourself to eat him. Instead, you carve up your friend to create a large basket by weaving the rashers together. Once the sun crisps it into a solid raft, you hop inside and sail off into the sunset.

Your raft begins to sink after weeks at sea and there is no land in sight. A plane circling ahead ignores you. It is your only chance of survival, but no amount of frantic waving and yelling is grabbing their attention.

Building a fire is not always as simple as we might hope, particularly if you are stranded in a wet and windy field in Shropshire. After many hours of waving your hands in vain and puffing in desperation for the sign of a flame, you remember the pot of fat that you keep in your pocket for emergencies. Dip a wad of cotton wool in the fat and nestle it in the kindling to make the perfect firelighter.

Take the last of your bacon fat and cook it up until it begins to burn. The black smoke will waft up into the skies and signal your position to passing planes.


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stay fragrant An emergency need for soap is a personal matter, but should you be desperate then help is at hand. Mix the bacon fat with an equal part of household lye, the active ingredient in the saponiďŹ cation process that turns fat into soap. Make sure you purify the fat by boiling it with water then allowing it to cool and removing just the pure surface oil, otherwise you will end up smelling like a greasy spoon.

evade would-be kidnappers Should you find yourself held hostage in a militant local butchers for threatening to turn vegetarian, prepare yourself a rope by tying the rashers together. Streaky strips works best for this as the lines of fat will stretch to tie the knots and give you greater buoyancy, allowing you to securely abseil from the window down to safety below.

participate in nudist ski championships So, you’ve entered a nudist ski championship and there is an avalanche warning for race day. It might be worth smothering yourself with bacon fat to ensure your survival. The fat will add an extra layer of insulation and keep the heat in so that your muscles do not seize up. It also wards off frostbite.

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light a power cut The power cuts off and the TV turns to black just as Kevin Bacon is about to get footloose. You put down the remains of your bacon sarnie and retrieve the fat from the pan. While you heat it on the gas, tear off the loose threads from your shirt for a wick and suspend it over a pencil into an old jam jar. Pour the fat in and practice your dance moves until the fat has solidified, then spark up a match.

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what meat means to me words charlotte humphery, photo hasisi park

twenty-four happy christmas dinners and an ache in my conscience

Death is an unavoidable fact of bacon. Pigs are raised to be slaughtered because we like how they taste. They don’t produce wool and we don’t drink their milk; despite their intelligence, sense of smell and awesome digestive powers, the pork you eat doesn’t come from animals that lead rich lives as pets, truffle-hunters or family waste disposal units. The modern pig lives to satisfy our appetites. I struggle to reconcile two fundamentally incompatible impulses within me: I like bacon and sausages and chorizo a lot; I condemn violence. I should live by the latter, but my diet would imply that I favour the former. My meat consumption is minimal, but makes me complicit in violence perpetrated against animals, a violence for which dietary necessity is no longer an excuse. My eating habits are a battleground. Despite the existential horror, death ultimately bothers me less than suffering. The topic provokes anxiety and queasiness, and I sympathise with the desire to avoid it. We have become almost entirely alienated from the process of production and most of us are happy that way. The extremism of some animal rights organisations makes it easy to dismiss their horror stories as just another kind of propaganda. Yet it is difficult to deny the findings of animal mistreatment by less-invested organisations such as the BBC (for example, the 2010 Panorama programme, Supermarkets: What Price Cheap Food?), as well as the Humane Farming Association and Colorado State University. As a meat-eater, I must make my peace with downed cattle, stressed and confined pigs, chickens whose bodies have been pushed to their genetic limits by our demand for cheap and plentiful animal flesh. If I am going to eat roast beef, knowing how it lived and died is surely my absolute minimum responsibility. Compared to the blunt reality of slaughter, ecological concerns about meat-eating may feel like an aside, but giving up meat is one of the most significant environmental impacts you can make. Animal agriculture contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions than planes, trains and automobiles combined. If you turn off the taps on principle while you brush your teeth, it is difficult to justify lasagne. I know all of this. I know much more, I know things that make me cry and gag when I think about them too much, but I still haven’t taken that final step to give up meat completely. I love to cook melanzane alla parmigiana, chana masala and mejadra: vegetarian dishes so delicious that the absence of meat goes unnoticed. Unctuous and comforting; spiced and hearty; rich, complex and nutritious. All of them delicious


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and unheard of in Britain a century ago, alien to your average dinner table even thirty years ago. But I am not done exploring. I want to eat ’nduja, bahn mi and tonkotsu ramen too. I want to taste the cultures of new countries, viscerally experience their history and discover strange new pleasures. I am greedy. I am also an inveterate people pleaser and to be a vegetarian in this country is to be confrontational and inconvenient. I shy away from being the exception that people need to make allowances for. Besides, I was raised on meat. Not solely, of course: carbohydrates will always be my true love and my parents, bless them, strove to get vegetables into our diet. However, I grew up in a house where the consumption of flesh went unquestioned. That isn’t just to say that eating animals was ideologically normalised or that meat-eating is a habit and any habit is hard to break, although both of those things are true. It means that meat holds an emotional significance for me. Meat is 24 happy Christmas dinners; meat is sausages cooked on driftwood beach fires on my birthdays; meat is my mother’s spaghetti carbonara when I’m upset. Giving up meat feels like a small betrayal of these memories and a guarantee that neither they nor their associated happiness could be repeated. The only meaningful defence of my guilt-stained meat consumption—my small comfort—is that you don’t only make pigs lives better by becoming a vegetarian. In giving up meat you can exclude yourself from meaningful conversations about animal welfare. Companies will not change their practices for a group of people who are not and never will be their customers. Demand for high quantities of low-cost meat has driven the meat industry to its current state. If consumers demonstrated a willingness to pay more for better quality, kinder meat, companies would provide it. We can plausibly make greater improvements to animal welfare by consuming responsibly than by abstaining. I buy less meat, but I buy better. I don’t need a miscellaneous chicken sandwich. Instead, I read and I think and I try to face the reality of meat. My food tastes like pleasure and nostalgia and guilt and self doubt. This isn’t an answer, but it is an attempt. Charlotte’s recommended reading: Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer; The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan; Food, Inc., edited by Karl Weber.


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IN TH G E G T H IF IS T O C H F G R IS O T O M D A S

Buy a year-long gift subscription to Granta and receive a 25% discount. That’s four issues for just £24. Each issue of Granta brings together the best new fiction, non-fiction, reportage, poetry and photography to explore a different theme – Britain, Medicine, Travel and more. V I S I T granta.com/subscribe and enter the promotion code ‘OCGift’ or C A L L 0500 004 033 and Q U O T E ‘OCGift’ to take advantage of this offer. ‘An indispensable part of the intellectual landscape’ – Observer

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now that is just cheatin’ words dani lurie and jason ward

the battle of the bacon-style rashers

We pitched an all-out battle between two meatfree bacon-style rashers: Cheatin’ and Quorn. Our judges were a lifetime bacon fan and a vegetarian who hates the smell of the stuff, and they put each contestant through its paces with recreations of classic bacon dishes. Dani: I don’t know what bacon tastes like. My family is Jewish, and while we were never very religious, pork products were strictly off the dinner table. I became a vegetarian before I hit my teens, so I missed out on the usual teenage experimentation with illicit things like double bacon cheeseburgers. Bacon has never appealed to me. The smell is overpowering and sickly, and reminds me of hangovers spent in festival food tents and greasy spoons. I know that the world is ravenous for the stuff, but even the thought of eating the fake version is slightly off-putting. Jason: I’m eating bacon right now. My right hand is typing these words whilst my left lovingly cradles a BLT sandwich. I’m eternally grateful to bacon, which has improved countless meals and rescued me from many hangovers. As much as I love vegetarian food, there is little that can compare to the sublime combination of salt, fat and deliciousness that is a good bacon-based product. Consequently, I’ve never experienced fake bacon. Why would I? It’d be like eating fake chocolate, or having a fake cup of tea.

round one: first impressions Dani: Quorn’s rashers are uniform pink strips, not unlike a roll of bubblegum tape laid out on a plate. They have the flat, flawless consistency of processed luncheon meat. This is what I imagine soylent pink might look like. In contrast, the Cheatin’ rashers look more appetising. Their lighter colour seems more natural. Perhaps because it’s a more convincing flesh tone, and each strip has a meat-marbled texture and faux fat at its side. Jason: It’s not just that Quorn’s rashers don’t look like bacon. They don’t look like food. They remind me of Play-Doh, the sort of thing only a threeyear old would be willing to put in their mouth. The Cheatin’ rashers replicate the shape of a slice of back bacon. Like Quorn, they’re too thin and homogeneous, but at least they’re making an effort to appear edible.


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round two: nowhere to hide Dani: The Cheatin’ rashers crisped up nicely but had a distinct lack of flavour. I eat a lot of disappointing fake meat products and this was particularly underwhelming, like chewing on a thin piece of foam. There was more to taste in the Quorn rashers, but it was the ’miscellaneous meat’ flavour that is present in many vegetarian alternatives. I doubt this is even close to what bacon is supposed to taste like. Jason: The blandness of the Cheatin’ rashers is very disappointing, whilst its texture is rubbery and weird. It’s hard to tell what’s meant to be going on. Not bacon, certainly. Unlike Cheatin’, the Quorn rashers don’t look like they’re cooking. They just sit there in the pan. There’s a slight smokiness that approximates bacon, but it’s like someone from the Middle Ages trying to draw a picture of a car.

round three: the bacon and egg butty Dani: The weak flavour of the Cheatin’ rashers meant that they got lost within the rich eggsoaked bread, offering nothing except synthetic padding. The Quorn rashers made sense alongside the fried egg and toasty bread. I can imagine eating this as a heartier alternative to egg-on-toast on a Sunday morning. Jason: It’s difficult to go wrong with a bacon and egg butty. Somehow Cheatin’ have managed it. Oof. With its appearance forgotten and the texture hidden by other ingredients, Quorn’s fake smokiness complements the butty relatively well. I wouldn’t kick it out of bed.

round four: american-style pancakes with bacon and maple syrup Dani: The crisp texture of the Cheatin’ rashers worked well against the soft pancake but its distinct lack of flavour let it down again. However, the savoury Quorn rashers combined with the sticky sweetness of the syrup was a taste sensation. If only the rashers could have been crispier, this would have made a superb vegetarian dish. Jason: In between the pancake and the maple syrup is a flavour vacuum called Cheatin’. It’s mostly inoffensive, but adds nothing except a few dozen calories. The Quorn and syrup combination is a pleasant surprise—they work pretty well together. If someone served this dish to me, I would get over the disappointment relatively quickly.


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does the patriarchy worship at the altar of bacon? words anna godfrey

a feminist confronts her meat-eating assumptions in conversation with campaigner carol j adams

”I’m sorry, but your parents lied to you. Your teachers lied to you. Your entire culture’s lied to you,” says Carol J. Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory when I ask her to challenge the assumptions that lie behind society’s acceptance of meat. Adams wrote The Sexual Politics of Meat 23 years ago, but despite the decades that often lead to the evolution, if not disintegration, of an individual’s radical ideas, Adams still swims the same stream of thought with the same enthusiasm. Her pioneering and provocative book dissected the cultural myth that meat-eating correlates to manliness. She argues that both women and animals are the victims of a patriarchy that ideologically fragments them so as to consume and control. Animals are disguised, relabelled as food. The veal on our plate is actually butchered calf, but we have removed ourselves from its unpleasant origins by renaming it. Once she’s pointed this out, eerie echoes in the language used of women’s bodies are everywhere: from ”Are you a boobs man or a butt man?” to the misogynistic menu used to attack the former Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, ”Kentucky Fried Quail—small breasts, huge thighs.”

Despite the warmth of her tone and frequency of her smile, the energy with which her sentences tumble from her tongue quickly makes our conversation lop-sided. It’s not so much that she is hostile to criticism, or aggressively defensive, but that she simply cannot understand why— once we have been exposed to the violence that creates meat and realise this is part of patriarchal oppression—we would not reject meat. I wonder out loud if there is any way meat-eating could be reclaimed from its patriarchal associations, rather than necessitating a vegetarian diet. Adams waits for me to stop talking, pausing momentarily, and then disintegrates the silence with a deluge of thoughts, the momentum of which constantly threatens to outrun the words in which they are articulated. After some time, my objections begin to wither. If there is any change of direction in our hour-long conversation, it occurs when Adams touches on a choice to be vegetarian as not primarily motivated by feminist beliefs, but as driven by thoughts that are rooted in human concern: ”What’s good is to care about the other, and other is not just human. How we constitute ourselves as human does not occur just by defining ourselves against other humans.”

Porn magazines transform individual women into a combination of physical features to be isolated and compared, the pages akin to the production line of a slaughterhouse upon which the sow is silenced and pieced. And the result of both the abattoir and the lad-mag? Consumption, she argues: sensual gorging and the normalising of a power imbalance in which man conquers. She tells me, ”That my privilege comes before your rights—that’s patriarchal ethics. ’I want bacon on my ice cream, so I’m not going to question where that privilege comes from.’ That’s human superiority.”

Before long we hit on something more accessible than the frustratingly specific link Adams has formed between women and animals. Other roots of Adams’ adamantine vegetarianism are explored, and fresh ideas such as ”social script,” and mankind’s inherent, but suppressed, ”ability to care” bloom within the conversation. On the rare occasions that her spoken word does not echo her written work, the vivacity of her thought is like biting on a peppercorn in potato soup. They linger, they overpower, but after a few more mouthfuls, we lapse back into the ebb and flow of The Sexual Politics of Meat.

I first encountered The Sexual Politics of Meat during a lecture at university. What intrigued me most about Adams’ work was that it depicted me—a meat-eater and a feminist—as a hypocrite. But I also wondered if Adams’ interpretation and the radical ideas that underpinned it would survive outside of the damp bedrooms and bustling libraries of the ivory tower.

I walk away from both her book and our conversation feeling intellectually stimulated, but viscerally unshaken. Adams is tackling a difficult crossroads in which the instinctual and the intellectual overlap. The Sexual Politics of Meat is an attempt to convince a change in her readers’ bodies by shifting their minds. It had failed to do so with me.

When I speak with her, she is sitting in a sun-dappled Texan office, so surrounded by piles of paper that one could almost believe they were part of the room’s architecture. ”I’m in the midst of reorganisation,” she beams at me.

The book, however, did make me aware of certain assumptions. A few days later, I felt a somewhat misplaced unease when eating a ham sandwich in front of a park pigeon. I was now both exceedingly aware of the violent process by which a pig is transformed into something as insentient as meat, and yet able to continue eating pork.

It’s not long into the conversation before that tricky connection, the source of my discomfort as a feminist, surfaces. Adams characterises sexism and speciesism as seamlessly connected, ”It’s like a Rubik’s cube. I don’t think you can have the one without the other. If you really get it, you’re not going to want to be a part of it! I did not say anywhere in the book, ’You must become a vegetarian,’ because I hated reading books like that. I found them insulting and heavyhanded. I felt that if I told the story of meat, I needed to trust the reader to work with their own consciousness.”

But I am not, I believe, a hypocrite for being both feminist and carnivore. Adams’ links between sexism and speciesism are there if you look for them, but they often feel forced, like a photograph aligning a tourist’s lean so as to seem to be pushing the Tower of Pisa. Adams’ theory requires a very particular, somewhat strained perspective in order to make the picture coherent. Ultimately, if meat is rejected, I remain convinced that it is rejected on the grounds of animal rights rather than gender issues. Any worshipping done at ”the altar of bacon” is not, despite Adams charismatic concepts, also a worshipping of man.


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WITH OTHER ANIMALS & THE EARTH EDITED BY CAROL J. ADAMS & LORI GRUEN

Covers of Carol J. Adams’ books in different editions and translations.


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how’s your hot dog, mr hot dog? words dani lurie

the creepy world of signage featuring dinner so delicious it wants to eat itself

Consumers, your food knows what’s going on, and it’s on board with the idea. Every evening, the cow from the Colman’s TV ad rises from his gravy boat tomb to get jiggy to I Like The Way You Moo, before he’s poured over a beef dinner. The Kool-Aid Man was so enthusiastic about having children drain the refreshing red liquid from his head that he would crash through walls to make it happen. Smiling chickens waving fried drumsticks are everywhere, and winking pigs presenting lines of plump pink sausages. Friendly animal mascots wearing bibs and wielding cutlery call upon you to eat at their restaurant or buy their frozen meat bits. It’s called anthropomorphic cannibalism, and it’s been a staple marketing trope of the food industry since the early 1900s. Any foodstuff can be sentient and hungry. I’ve seen a bowl of noodles feasting on a bowl of noodles and a marshmallow eating a smaller, presumably weaker, marshmallow. Sometimes food isn’t content with just feasting upon its peers. Oh no, this food is so delicious that it wishes to—and often does—prepare and consume itself. This is the world of self-cannibalising food. My first encounter with it was a statue of a hot dog pouring ketchup on himself and licking his lips. I soon discovered that Hotdog Man was known the world over, standing sentry outside fast food stands from Michigan to Berlin, confusing and disturbing passers-by in equal measure. A few years later I found his starchy counterpart outside a frites shop in Amsterdam: a packet of chips that chows down on the bounty from its own head. Here anthropomorphic cannibalism crosses the line from a ubiquitous conceit that barely registers to something downright creepy: an ouroboros with condiments. Left to right, from top: an advert in the window of Rub Diner and Milk Bar, London; a sign in Sapporo-Ya restaurant, San Francisco; a vintage French advert for sausage; a 1940s Valentine’s Day card. The Valentine has a jointed moving knife that appears to saw through the sausage.


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two hundred percent happy interview rosanna durham portraits francesca jane allen

ayesha tan-jones on bold modelling and being confident in her skin

This issue’s cover photograph is a single moment in the years-old collaboration between Ayesha Tan-Jones and photographer Francesca Jane Allen, a partnership that has been flourishing ever since the two met. The pair are now friends and flatmates. Ayesha is an artist, musician, and a model signed with the alternative agency, AntiAgency. We asked her to talk about her experiences in front of the lens. Describe the process of collaborating with Francesca. When was the first time she photographed you? I met Francesca for the first time three years ago. We hung out for a few days and it was bliss. She is my best friend and we’ve got up to so much mischief together. A lot of the photos are memories of times we’ve hung out, more like tokens of our friendship. You’re signed to Anti-Agency, an alternative modelling agency. What’s special about their approach? Anti-Agency is an agency for people who are pursuing their own passions, but still have an interest in being in front of the camera for cool jobs. I am an artist and also have a solo music project, Brownie Promise.

What is it like to model in the nude? I have grown to be 200 percent comfortable with my body. Being in the nude is our natural state, and I feel that it should be embraced more by people, as we are all beautiful and different. I make a lot of artwork where I use my own body and I find the nude is the most delicate and sublime image. As for modelling for other people nude, if you feel comfortable in the situation then it is a very grounding and liberating experience for the soul. If I were to ever get weird vibes from a photographer or crew, I probably would politely refuse. Do you read magazines? How do you feel about being on the cover of a women’s magazine? I tend to read more blogs than magazines, but I find a wonderful tactile quality when holding a printed issue in my hands, flicking through the pages while breathing in the unique smell of the paper. It feels so real. I have never been on a cover before, and I’m excited to walk into a shop and catch a glimpse of my face on the shelf. Ayesha Tan-Jones / www.ayeshatanjones.com


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ayesh a by francesca: a portrait series


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sculpture’s featherweight champion interview and portrait liz seabrook

lydia kasumi shirreff makes paper pineapples and paper crowns

Lydia Kasumi Shirreff has made us some trainers out of paper. They’re ghosts of sneakers: bearing the perfect form and pattern of the originals, but stripped of their heft, bulk and smell of new-shoe rubber. These incarnations are light and precise, and they were cut and shaped in her medium of choice: intricate paper sculpture. You can see them on page 78. She also makes tiny slices of watermelon, plinths for jewellery, headdresses for fashion stories, mysterious many-sided shapes, and many more. We paid a visit to Conference Room 2, her unconventional living and working space. The walls and surfaces around her working area were covered in paper in various guises. There were sheets of paper drying from experiments with oil on water, Chinese lanterns in fruity forms, and a chest full of miscellaneous paper treasures.

Paper art has a long tradition in Japanese culture, of course, but what is the art form like in Britain? Paper art in Britain feels really fresh. It has only come into its own commercially in the past few years, and it’s still pretty niche. Because it doesn’t have a huge tradition behind it like origami, artists are more inclined to take more risks and experiment freely. How did you go about putting together the shoes for the shoot? Did it change your perception of the actual shoes? I started off making the paper shoes by having the actual shoes in front of me. This was a good place to begin because I could see exactly how they’d been put together. Paper behaves in a very different way to fabric, so it was a challenge, especially getting the curves right. I’m more attuned to the design of trainers now; I pay more attention to how they’ve been made when I see them in shops. What would you say sets your style apart? At university, I was drawing, painting, making sculpture, installation—pretty much anything I could. It feels strange to me that I’m now working in one medium exclusively. I’m a huge fan of detail and perfect edges so I really love the results you get from paper. It has its limitations but that’s part of the challenge. I’m still drawn to detail, colour and form, and I still make life difficult for myself and complicate things if I can. I approach my work from a fine art point of view. I feel more like a sculptor than an illustrator. What would be your dream commission? My dream commission would involve a year-long trip to a hot country with lots of beaches, lots of puppies and a very flexible deadline. Failing that, I enjoy any project that offers me a new challenge. My main reason for doing what I do is to make people smile and give them something out of the ordinary to explore. Lydia Kasumi Shirreff / lydiakasumi.com


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suede classics, puma


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dancing on paper feet photography daniel fraser paper sculpture lydia kasumi shirreff


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vans x liberty


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bristol mid, dc shoes


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sb zoom stefan janoski pr, nike


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spma myrtille dots carve, vĂŠja


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my sister’s wedding words benjamin brill, photo yang du

I never want to forget the moments between the photographs

Weddings are the only chance everyone gets to put on all their clothes for best and pretend like they’ve been asked to a really fancy party. The women wear extra eyelashes and spangles, and dresses that go tighter at the bottom so that their knees keep bashing into one another. The men all wear shiny shoes and Leeds United cufflinks and red faces because they’ve had to do the top button on their smart work shirt and then spend twenty minutes swearing at the bathroom mirror about how difficult it is to do up a stupid bloody bow tie. People take pictures of each other at weddings so they can prove to everyone afterwards what a perfect day it was. And the good thing about photographs is that you can never tell whether someone has an itchy neck or sore feet, or that the bride’s mum was a bit uneven with the fake tan, or that the groom’s breath smells of whiskey. All the cracks get smoothed over until, after a while, it’s like they were never there at all. But without the cracks, all these weddings start to melt into each other. When we’re old, we’ll probably just remember our twenties as a single continuous journey up and down the M5 motorway in an underpowered hire car, bundling with our suit carriers from one three-star hotel bedroom to another. And when our red wine lips and early evening hangovers have faded, the only thing we have left is the photographs. And we’ll sit with our wives or our husbands in our armchairs, and we’ll laugh as we watch Four Weddings and a Funeral again on Channel Four, and wonder how there was ever a time when we used to think it was a tragedy, not a comedy. When I think about my sister’s wedding, I hope that it’s the cracks that I remember. Because perfection is okay, but it’s the cracks that make things human. And sometimes, being human is better than being perfect. I hope I remember the age that I spent in my hotel bathroom trying to make my hair look alright, and the half hour I spent sitting in my suit on the end of the bed, nervously flicking through fifty foreign television channels and watching the clock crawl. And I hope that I remember the five minutes I spent in the best man’s room, as the other ushers bounced off the walls and on the balls of their feet like footballers in the dressing room before a derby match, all taking turns to swear at the mirror about how difficult it is to do up a stupid bloody cravat. I even hope that I remember standing on my own in the hotel lobby as all my sister’s friends lined up for photos and my uncles bowled about in their pale summer suits with their taxi driver chat, and my dad’s golfing mates stood around looking uncomfortable in shirtsleeves and loafers, while their wives sat primly on pale cream sofas in bright flowery dresses, and waited for the coach to arrive. And I hope I remember the way everybody started to chatter excitedly when the coach pulled up at what looked like the last building on the island, and the way the waves beat against the white painted walls of the venue, and the way the sun was pitched just past its peak in a cloudless sky. And I hope that I remember the flash of embarrassment I felt with everyone’s eyes on me, just for a moment, as I walked with my mum down the aisle. And I hope I remember seeing my aunty and my cousin, red in the face and howling with laughter as a gale whipped in from the sea, and the rabbi shouted over it in singsong broken English about how the wind must be a blessing from God. Above all, I hope that I never forget the way I felt when I saw my little sister in her wedding dress for the first time: to see in a moment the child that she was, and the woman she had become. You see, there will always be the photos of the ceremony and the speeches, of the dinner and the dancing, and of my sister and her husband, newly-wed and beaming for all eternity in the Spanish sun. But nobody takes photos of the cracks, which is why we have to make sure we remember them.


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c re a t i ve workout words liz ann bennett

re a d er s s h a re t i p s f or a c l e a r m i nd Every couple of months or so, I blank out an evening in my diary and go and sit in a wine bar somewhere, the sort of place you can drink unhurriedly and watch passers-by. I bring a notebook, order a large glass of red and wait til my mind starts to ask questions and pick at problems. Sometimes I leave elated and convinced that I’ve found a gamechanging idea. Sometimes I feel that my thoughts have only become more tangled, but even then I’m often surprised by a nugget that emerges later. The discovery of this habit felt almost miraculous, as if I’d stumbled on one of the secrets of how my brain worked. This is about what inspires us, not in the poster-slogan language of dreams and implausible determination, but in simple, practical steps. How do you go on creating things, when on an average evening nothing is more enticing than curling up with a pot of yoghurt and some good TV?

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barbara carvethjohnson, artist My mother turned 85 recently and is lonely and pretty miserable, so I gave her a job. The job is to take a photo a day. Quite simple and not simple at all. She has to think about it and make choices. What is worth the one photograph? She started with the predictable: flowers in the garden, flowers on the table, then flowers on my father’s grave. But slowly she began to mark her days. Taking the car out of the garage, she photographed the steering wheel, not making it to the hairdresser she took a picture of her curlers, and her ageing Labrador got his portrait taken. Every day gets a picture. And I get less grumbling.

cait brennan, illustrator Some days, when I feel really small or just completely sucked dry, I take a walk. From the walk, I make a tiny book. I look at details, like paint splatters on the sidewalk, some abandoned lacy underwear, a lost grocery list. Sometimes it takes one block,

sometimes it takes twenty. When I get home, I make myself a tiny book about some of those moments, just one of those books that you can fold from one piece of paper, so it’s not too daunting. Sometimes I love them, or hate them. Either way, it just works!

michaela murphy, relationship counsellor I’m at my most creative when lying in bed, just before sleep. In this quiet, distraction-free, day-dreamy state the ideas kick in uncensored. This can be so exciting that sleep becomes out of the question, but it’s exhilarating and worth the tiredness the next day.

jessie I go to my favourite spot at sunset, a gorgeous local beach, armed with my drink of choice (coffee), and take a slow walk. Something about meandering along in a beautiful place, feet grounded softly in the cool sand, just helps to root me in the moment and allow for new ideas to pop up, as the old ones are being blown away in the breeze.


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ben greener, artist Things that help me include listening to some gamelan music very loudly. The rhythmic interweaving patterns of percussion make a great scaffold for my thoughts. I also have two cupboards that have full-length mirrored doors. When I open the right of one and the left of the other, it leaves a gap for my head, which is reflected tens to hundreds of times. I find it useful to imagine different versions of myself doing the same in parallel worlds. I guess it’s like a conference call between dimensions.

that doesn’t work I tend to lie in the bath with the shower on full whack so it feels like I’ve been caught by some tropical storm.

catherine walker, writer Every time I’m afflicted with writer’s block, I take two hours out, make an iced coffee, put on some good music, and have a really good workout, and then a hot bath. By the time I get back to my work, I feel refreshed. It’s like starting the day anew again!

mike frost, designer Too often I catch myself asking, ”Am I creative, or am I a fraud?” Then I get on my bike and cycle until I find myself some place unfamiliar. I’ll take a Mars bar, a book and a bottle of water, sit down and get to know my new surroundings. I figure I found my way there, so I’ll find a way back. Time on the road gives me space to organise my thoughts and my ability to navigate home without any sort of map reassures me of my ability to problem solve. If

lydia wakelam, photographer I’m a young freelance photographer trying to find my feet. When my head gets too muddled, my younger sister and I shut ourselves away in our dining room with closed curtains, cups of tea, jaffa cakes (she insists) and our favourite film, Submarine, which we watch as we sip our drinks and doodle in our notebooks.

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emma hacking, zinemaker Writing letters to friends always inspires me. Writing down your problems and explaining your thoughts to someone else is a wonderful way to organise them. Plus, there is the added irresistible bonus that you will be literally sending your problems away in the post. I always feel much lighter after a long letterwriting session. It brings me cognitive peace and clarity. All you need is some paper, pen, a stamp and, preferably, some cosy nook to write in with a source of hot drinks nearby.

jane flett, writer I need something to physically remove myself from the internet. If I don’t, hours can somehow dissolve into an ocean of Wikipedia blue hyperlinks and compulsive refreshing of emails. So I make dough. I take the brown ceramic bowl from my kitchen and fill it with flour and yeast and honey and beer, and

I start kneading. It’s impossible to type on a laptop with wet-dough fingers. It’s also immensely satisfying to feel the mixture change under your hands from a sticky mess to a living, quivering ball. I like to imagine all my thoughts unravelling and realigning with the glutens. After ten minutes of this, I feel better. I put the dough in a bowl by the radiator, and get back to work.

emily stapletonjefferis, art student I make the thirty-minute walk to LIDL, and once inside I pretend I’m on holiday.

giulia risi Whenever my head seems about to burst, I go to the library. I wander silently through the bookshelves for a long time, inhaling the scent of knowledge and antiquities, then I borrow always the same old book: the complete collection of Sylvia Plath’s poems.


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yen yap, production editor I hide away at the airport, sipping coffee, strolling terminals and staring at planes. There is a sense of anticipation that I’m on the edge of adventure and it gives me space to collect my thoughts.

tracey doxey I love to note where the sun writes across the walls in my sitting room. I can read the seasons by its trail. If I turn around, I can read what time of year it is just by the depth or brightness of light and the place the light falls across this room. It acts as a living sundial.

andrina hutter I followed your call to write this personal habit down and it helped me realise what a lucky beggar I am to have found my personal way of staying creative. As bizarre as my routine sounds, I assure you the ideas resulting from it are worth undertaking this self-destructive

procedure. I start with listening to extremely sad music whilst clicking my way through blogs and Tumblr, and soak every inspiring detail up like a sponge. I then go on to watch a depressing movie like Take This Waltz or Like Crazy. I always try not to cry too much, but I end up weeping freely every time. Finding myself in this deeply melancholic and sorrowful state, I am ready to bring ideas and creative solutions to paper.

lucy, jewellery designer I live in Norwich and I’m lucky that our office is in the heart of Tombland, the oldest part of the city with the beautiful cathedral and wonderful winding cobbled lanes. Whenever I feel the creative flow begin to ebb, I take a walk. Sitting at the cathedral, it’s easy to get lost in the sound of the wind stirring the leaves or the smell of a nearby curry plant on a hot day. I’ve seen tiny grasshoppers making friends and a jay tweeting from a tree; overhead conversations about boyfriends, books and plans being made.

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illustration hye jin chung

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pickl ed dictators words jenna james

a p pl y a m il d b l e a c h we e k l y t o ke e p th e f un g u s a t b a y

My first encounter with humans preserved in juices was the moment in the film The Mask of Zorro when the character of Captain Harrison Love takes his cup and dips it into the jar that contains Zorro’s brother’s pickled head. More tasteful and yet no less affecting is Russia’s beloved Lenin, whose eternally-blushing brow is ingrained on the memories and perhaps hearts of the millions that have queued to visit him, braving Moscow’s deathly cold. It is a haunting exhibit that Yuri DenisovNikolsky, Lenin’s embalmer and caretaker since 1970, says could be maintained for another century. The Russian dream team of embalmers, of which Denisov is a member, has been called upon to preserve many a beloved leader from around the world. Fearlessly they begin on each new commission. ”Not every expert is allowed to restore such treasured historical objects, like a Raphael or a Rembrandt. Those who do it, we tremble. I feel a great responsibility in my hands,” Denisov said in an interview. Though the 71-year-old Denisov insists that there is nothing macabre about his work, the process begins by ensuring the subject is in fact deceased. The corpse is later massaged, freeing it from the grip of rigor mortis and slowly a ’memory picture’ is created as the team

of specialists work from head to foot, applying make up, bleaching, injecting, dressing and arranging. Tourists, historians, the curious, the still heartbroken all wait patiently to catch a glimpse of the artists’ handiwork, handiwork that requires continuous attention. I find myself picturing these scientists as a crew at the Grand Prix. As the automobile slows they check tyres, gas, dark spots, humidity, wrinkles, missing limbs. In all areas of pickling, there is always room for improvement. I recently visited the taxidermy collection at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham. The oldest gorilla in residence was just awful. A product of an outdated method and a clownish ideal of what a gorilla should be. A tragedy, but also a souvenir of an age of experimentation and discovery. In stark contrast, Lenin possesses a heavenly Renaissance glow. His hair is far less patchy and his nose is less like rubber. His presence is tangible and yet otherworldly, as if a reminder that in times of need someone will awaken and come to the rescue, a man on a white horse. He’s there, you can see him! Quick! Missed it? Don’t worry, visit tomorrow between 10am and 1pm.

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Ho Chi Minh 19th May 1890 - 2nd September 1969 illustration louis labron-johnson

Prime minister and president of North Vietnam, he supposedly washed dishes at Drayton Court Hotel in West Ealing in his youth. He was secretly embalmed in a North Vietnamese jungle cave by Denisov in 1970. Resides: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi, Vietnam. Visitors’ code of conduct: No shorts or miniskirts. Silence. Walk in two lines. No hands in pockets or crossing one’s arms. No smoking, drinking, eating, photography or video.


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Vladimir Ilyich Lenin 22th April 1870 - 21st January 1924 illustration hye jin chung

Lawyer, revolutionary, politician, premier of the Soviet Union, keen cyclist, regularly disinfected, bleached and bathed. Resides: Lenin’s Mausoleum, Moscow, Russian Federation. Visitors’ code of conduct: No talking, no smoking, no cameras.

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Mao Zedong 26th December 1893 - 9th September 1976 illustration michael parkin

Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, leader of the Chinese Communist Party, soldier, author of The Little Red Book. Husband to four wives, father to ten children. Died from Parkinson’s disease. Some claim that a wax sculpture lies in the mausoleum in place of his body. Resides: Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, Tiananmen Square, Beijing. Visitors’ code of conduct: No smoking, no shorts or miniskirts, no headgear, no talking, no photography or video. At first, no visits by his third wife, He Zizhen, were allowed by the government, for reasons that have never been explained. When they eventually relented, her visit was made in secret, no crying allowed.


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Kim Il-sung 15th April 1912 - 8th July 1994 illustration ellen surrey

Eternal President of the Republic, president of North Korea, ”one of the most intriguing figures of the twentieth century,” father of Kim Jong-il. Korean press kindly abstained from photographing a calcium deposit that grew to the size of a baseball on his neck. Resides: Kumsusan Palace, Pyongyang, Korea. Visitors’ code of conduct: Visitors are filed through a dust-blowing machine and must bow at his feet, left and right sides. No photography, no smoking, no talking, no eating.

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there’s no g in my g&t words liz seabrook, photo anna verlet shelton

it’s nothing personal, but the bottle and I can’t be friends

If you want to go ahead and eat ten pots of pickled herrings, just do it. I won’t judge you so long as you aim any resulting vomit away from me. I won’t be doing the same though; I don’t mean to be unsociable or anything, and if we can change the pickled herrings for jelly snakes then count me in. If you want to do the same with Guinness or Jägermeister, I won’t berate you. But mine’s a lime and soda. Alcohol is just another thing I prefer not to consume. I’ll never forget my dad’s expression one Christmas, after he persuaded me to try a snifter of vintage port. As usual, my ”oh-Jesus-this-is-disgusting” face came out, which involves me sticking my tongue out and waggling it about in a frankly ungainly manner. My father’s poor face crinkled as he sighed his disappointment. ”What’s not to like?” he wailed. I’ll tell you what’s not to like, and that’s the sourness that creeps unrelentingly into the outside of the tongue. It’s not like I haven’t tried to find an alcohol I like. I’ve tried plenty, and the only ones I can bear to have a sip of are amaretto and brandy; the former because it tastes like cake and the latter because it tastes like Christmas. On the first night out at university I felt compelled, in a bid to fit in, to buy a drink. I drank about a quarter of my amaretto and coke, decided it was gross and that I’d probably fit in just fine without it. And fit in just fine I did. Being around inebriates can be excellent—I can get away with so much more. Lawnmower dance? No one cares! My inhibitions begin to fall away in the knowledge that everyone else’s have. An ex-boyfriend’s mum was the first person to take grave offence, to my polite refusal of a flute of Champagne on her birthday. I’d been with my boyfriend for about four years, and his mother was perfectly aware that neither of us drank. This didn’t dissuade her from preaching to us that, ”We must be able to drink on social occasions—it’s important to be able to enjoy a glass of Champagne on someone’s birthday.” It was awkward, but I didn’t have a drop after explaining that Champagne was not my thing. You see, I have no moral qualms with drinking. It’s not a religious thing. It has nothing to do with an unhappy encounter with a defibrillator after downing a bottle of whiskey. The problem is that ethanol and my tongue just don’t get along, and their differences seem to be irreconcilable. Alcohol is ubiquitous in our society; it permeates social occasions and joins people together through a slackening of the tongue, or tales of wild nights out. This, unfortunately for me, is what makes it less simple than a mere chemical reaction on the palate. But I’m keeping on side with my tongue; whether or not you invite me to the pub is up to you.


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the impunity of evil words jason ward, portrait andy lo pò

joshua oppenheimer spent six years filming the protected perpetrators of indonesia’s mass killings

Anwar Congo is hanging his friend. Standing on his old killing floor, he pulls the wire tight around the man’s neck, trying to demonstrate the efficient, brutal way he used to do it. The former leader of a death squad that took part in the 1965-66 genocide in North Indonesia, Anwar estimates that he personally killed as many as a thousand men, women and children. Now an elderly man with a sad, kindly smile and plagued by nightmares he can’t quite douse with alcohol or drugs, he is the subject of Joshua Oppenheimer’s extraordinary new documentary The Act of Killing, in which Anwar recreates his crimes against humanity in the form of the gangster movies, westerns and musicals he grew up loving. Later in the film he returns again to the killing floor, situated on the roof of a shop that today sells knock-off designer handbags. Where earlier he was laughing, joking and doing the cha-cha-cha, now he looks stricken. Overwhelmed by the enormity of what he did, Anwar stumbles to the edge of the floor and promptly throws up, making a retching noise that would surely be familiar to him: it sounds like someone dying. Joshua hadn’t intended to direct a film about mass murder. Sent to North Sumatra to produce a documentary about a community struggling to organise a union, he lived amongst plantation workers whose families had survived the genocide. ”Their parents and grandparents had been accused of being Communist sympathisers, although they weren’t necessarily—they were just in a workers’ union,” Joshua says. ”They were put in concentration camps and sent out to be killed.” Despite the passage of half a century and the recent end of the dictatorship, the survivors’ families were still under constant surveillance from the military. This was not only their main obstacle in organising the union, but also hampered Joshua’s efforts to film them. ”As we started focussing on the genocide, we fell under their suspicion and the military police would stop us. It was frightening for everybody.” It was around this time that Joshua interviewed his first perpetrator, who immediately started bragging about all the people he’d killed. ”I realised this was an extraordinary situation. The perpetrator wasn’t a psychopath. He was boastful because he was in power and no one had ever forced him to admit that what he did was wrong. It was like if the Nazis had won.” He recognised the potency of speaking to the murderers rather than their victims, as well as the shocking ease of doing so. Joshua redirected his efforts. ”I filmed every perpetrator I could find, asking, ’Who else do you know? Are there any other members of your death squad still alive? How about the commanders?’ Within minutes of meeting them, they were all offering to take me to where they had killed, to show me how they’d done it. I worked my way across the region, realising that these men were talking about how tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people had been killed in this one area. And no one had ever documented it before.” He understood by then how the killings had occurred, but Joshua wanted to grasp the nature of the boasting. ”Why were they doing it? How did they want me to see them? How did they really see

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themselves?” To learn more, he started encouraging the perpetrators to take part in simple re-enactments of their killings. ”I was saying, ’Look, you want to show me? You’ve participated in one of the biggest killings in history. Your whole society is based on it. If you’re so keen to tell me what you’ve done, go ahead and show me.”

them, arm in arm, so we can see how it is that we human beings do these things to each other. What the film demands is that the viewer put themselves in Anwar’s shoes. If they identify even a small part of themselves for one moment, the whole edifice whereby we divide the world into good guys and bad guys collapses.”

Anwar was the 41st mass murderer that Joshua interviewed. ”I lingered on him because of his pain and his trauma,” he says. ”Anwar’s sense that what he did was wrong was not just there under the surface whilst he was boasting, it was motivating it. He was this outrageous allegory for impunity, but his attitude was this rather desperate, defensive effort to convince himself that what he did was okay.”

As traumatic as The Act of Killing can be to watch, it’s nearly impossible to look away from. The film is so dense with powerful, unforgettable moments, sometimes nightmarish, sometimes funny, that it’s unsurprising to learn how many thousands of hours of footage it’s been distilled from. Beyond its striking imagery, however, there’s something utterly transfixing about the perpetrators’ apparent nonchalance towards the crimes, their brazenness inspiring a mixture of horror and fascination. It’s hard to believe that such evil could not only be unpunished but rewarded.

Joshua continued to film for another half a decade with Anwar, travelling to Indonesia for three or four months at a time. ”I would come back with an enormous amount of footage. If it were the days of celluloid it would have taken up an aeroplane hanger.” The basic reenactments were replaced by more and more elaborate genre parodies, spurred on by Anwar’s dissatisfaction with the results. ”When I would screen the footage back to him, he saw that there was something wrong with the picture. But he wouldn’t dare say what it was: that the whole thing was rotten.” Joshua speaks in perfectly-constructed miniature essays, as you’d expect from a widely-published academic, but it becomes obvious that his emotional investment in the film is as deep as his intellectual engagement with its meaning. When reflecting upon his complex relationship with Anwar, he becomes uncharacteristically emotional. ”Not for one second did I forget my moral judgement of what he did, of course, but the demand that I placed on myself is that I would always treat these people as human beings and let myself become as close as they would let me,” he says. ”The thing about Anwar is, not only is he charming, but he’s nice. He was the most caring person on the set. When you become close to someone you let down your guard and you let them in, so when they show you something horrible it’s really painful. You’re vulnerable in a different way. To go with him on that journey into the horror of what he did—intimately, and not to flinch—that was hard, and really painful. I had nightmares throughout the process.” The film purposefully mirrors Joshua’s ambivalence towards his subjects, walking, as he describes it, a tightrope between repulsion and sympathy. There are parts of The Act of Killing that are among the most harrowing footage you’re likely to see in a documentary. Yet it can be riotously funny as well. Throughout the film, Joshua uses comedy and Anwar’s affability to disarm the viewer. He describes a scene where Anwar and his co-stars try on different hats whilst making one of the re-enactments: ”It’s very funny and lovely and they’re open and we like them in that moment. We warm to them as human beings and then in the next scene they do something horrible, violent, cruel. ”Normally in film you prepare the viewer by giving cues, but I tried to do the opposite. We enter the most terrible moments in the film with

Due to the continued presence of the genocide’s perpetrators within Indonesian society, honest discussion of the killings has always been taboo, but after screening over 500 times in 95 cities, The Act of Killing’s release has triggered open national debate on the subject at last. A notunexpected side effect is that the killers don’t boast about their crimes any more, but Joshua thinks their newfound reticence is less to do with personal reflection than the result of fear of public reaction, whilst privately they hold on to the excuses they’ve employed for almost half a century. ”If you or I had killed and had the opportunity to justify what we’d done, I’m quite sure we would, because otherwise you have to wake up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror and see a murderer,” Joshua says. ”The irony is that the justification of genocide is not a symptom of the lack of remorse or humanity, it’s the opposite. It’s the sign of the fact that it shows that they know it’s wrong. That’s why they’re so stridently denying it. ” The Act of Killing is a shocking exploration of how great wrongs can be tolerated by an entire society, but what’s most powerful about the film is its depiction of the devastating moral toll genocide takes upon its perpetrators themselves, and how that unexpressed guilt can be exploited to do further harm. ”So, you’ve killed,” Joshua elaborates, ”and then the government gives you an excuse in the form of antiCommunist propaganda to justify what you’ve done as something heroic. And you cling to that excuse for dear life. “The tragedy is that once you’ve corrupted yourself by killing one person and justifying it that way, when the regime asks you to kill others for the same reason you have to, because if you don’t it’s tantamount to admitting that it was wrong the first time. It demands more and more and more evil, including oppressing your victims so they keep quiet and don’t challenge your version of events. The film shows that the very people who would be enjoying the fruits of their victory if they were genuine heroes are in fact somehow destroyed by what they’ve done.” The Act of Killing is out on DVD on November 25th.


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A promotional poster for The Act of Killing, illustrated by Jay Shaw.

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Youth is the perfect late-capitalist commodity precisely because it is unobtainable for most of us. Hannah Zeilig, page 110


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kristina and kisa, by stepan obruchkov


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parties and empanadas words and portraits rosanna durham

rosalba ordonnez is a colombian cook in london and this is her story

Rosalba Ordonnez is a Colombian living in the England. She’s a wellestablished figure on London’s Latin American festival circuit, where you’ll find her serving Colombian favourites, from empanadas to champú, a non-alcoholic fruit drink mixed with maize. I’ve been lucky enough to try some of her food—delicious and unfamiliar tastes from a country I’ve never visited—since Rosalba has been part of my life since I was a child. She’s a nurse’s aid and looked after one of my elderly relatives over a decade ago. We sat down together recently, and I asked her about Colombian cooking and the story of how she came to England. I realised that for all the years she’s known me, I knew her hardly at all. Aside, that is, from a collection of details that form my portrait of her. Her recipe for chilli sauce that uses three ingredients. Her Catholic faith. The fivemetre high avocado tree in her garden, which has never fruited and likely, given London’s mild climate, never will. How did you first learn to cook? I was brought up by nuns. I told them that I wanted to work in the kitchen because I wanted to learn. But every time I cooked the nuns said I had changed the ingredients for the better. How old were you? Seventeen or eighteen. There was one nun who brought me up in particular. She moved to another city, and every time she had big meetings, she used to call and say, ”Oh, please send me Rosalba: I have a congregation coming and I am lost without her!” I have

a picture of her here. I used to feel like she was my mother, because I was very little when I moved there. I learned how to make cakes with her. She made such beautiful cakes. She sent me this picture of her cutting a cake when I had moved to England. It was taken on her fiftieth anniversary of being a nun. It looks like a wedding cake that she’s cutting. It’s an interesting photograph. Yes, it looks like a wedding cake. I had a good experience at the convent. My parents died very young, so we lived with my grandmother for a while, and then I wanted to move to a convent. My grandmother also used to sell empanadas, so maybe it’s in the blood. So you were surrounded by women cooking? Yes. All my aunties. Once, when I was eight, my grandmother was cooking lunch, but she was called away, so she said, ”You have to finish cooking.” It was bean plantain soup, and I had to get a chair just to reach the cooker. I couldn’t peel the plantains since my hands were so small, so I grabbed a knife. It was a big one and also rusty. Unfortunately the soup started turning black because of the rust on the knife. The more it boiled the worse it got. I was so scared of what my grandmother would say when she saw it. So I put in a lot of saffron, but the more colour I put in, the more black it got. She was so angry. She said, ”Why did you cut it with a knife? Why not a spoon?” Did you eat it afterwards? Yes, it tasted okay. It was only the colour. But I will never forget that soup—black!


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Could you tell me more about Colombian food? I know it through the food that you’ve cooked, but what do you remember eating from your childhood? Is it spicy? It is spicy, but not too hot. In Mexico, they eat hot food with chillies. We eat chillies, but we do it separately, so you put it in the food as you want it. For the empanadas, I pre-cook them and then freeze them, and at the festival I finish them off in hot oil. That’s why I get people queuing for them, because lots of cooks use microwaves and then they get soggy. It’s hard work the way I do it, but it’s worth it. Nowadays it’s very hard here in London; jobs are very difficult. But if you know how to do things, you survive. Why did you decide to move to England? Why not the States? I wanted to leave Colombia: go anywhere, go away. I had no ties—no mother to tell me not to go. One day, a friend told me she could help me get a contract for hotel catering in the UK. I applied, but I said to her, ”I have no money; how am I going to travel abroad?” So I started running day trips to the beach or the river. I would hire a bus and charge people to come. And every Saturday we held parties. People would bring a bottle and pay to get in, and we gave them chicken rice. That’s how I got the money to come here. Holding parties! Yes. Drinking all night on Saturday and then a trip to the river on Sunday. Someone would make fifty or sixty empanadas for me, and we would bring them in a big basket and sell them to the same people on the bus for lunch.

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Could you talk about the Colombian national dishes? Bandeja paisa is made from kidney beans, rice, chicharrón—which is pork belly— another kind of meat, and arepa, which is a type of maize flatbread. People also have arepa for breakfast with meat or eggs. We use a lot of cumin, pimento pepper and sauces like soy sauce, sometimes wine. I like to use lemon to soften the meat and I use a lot of garlic and onion. There’s another dish called lechona, which is a whole stuffed pig. They leave just the head of the pig on, and the skin. They stuff it, then stitch and stitch it. The pig doubles in size, because of all that rice and chopped meat inside. Then they put it in the oven until the skin is crackling. Do you have to do it in a clay oven, or can you use an electric one? At home they do it in big clay ovens. They are huge. Even in these big ovens in restaurants in the UK, they can’t do it like it is at home in Colombia. There they can buy a big, big pig because they have these huge clay ovens. That’s when the skin becomes even more crispy! And everyone fights for the crackling! They fill the oven with wood and then fire for hours and hours before the pig goes in. After the pig, you can bake bread and so many other things with the heat: it lasts for so many hours you wouldn’t believe. I’ve seen people cook lechona here in the UK, a whole pig at carnivals. You go back in the afternoon and you’ll see that only the head is left, all the pork has gone.

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a recipe for a jí picante words sophie wright

mix up colombia’s answer to tomato ketchup

Ají picante is a staple in every Colombian kitchen and holds prime position in the fridges of homes and restaurants alike. A much-loved condiment, this sauce can be spicy or refreshing and every family has their own recipe that has evolved over time. One thing is agreed upon: it is the perfect all-season accompaniment to anything and everything. You can add extra spices like cumin and some people use tomatoes, but this version doesn’t as Rosalba says it keeps for longer without. Once it’s in the fridge, it lasts for over a week, so you have time to try out its many uses, from flavouring soup, stews and grilled meat to the ever-popular side-dip for empanadas. This recipe is from My Colombian Recipes. You will need: a bunch of coriander a bunch of flat leaf parsley a bunch of spring onions 1 green chilli

juice of a lime 120ml white vinegar 50ml water a pinch of sugar

One. Deseed and thinly slice the green chilli and combine with the water and vinegar. Two. Finely chop the coriander, parsley and spring onions and add to the mixture. Three. Add the lime juice, salt, pepper and sugar and mix well. Four. Pour into a glass jar and cover. Keep in the fridge for up to ten days.

Rosalba’s ingredients for bandeja paisa.

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we will grow old words hannah zeilig, photos anna verlet shelton

as a scholar of ageing, my professional interest and personal life have begun to align for the first time

The restaurant’s atmosphere of antique luxury is deliberately casual. The shabby chic of the 2010s is the chosen decor, all worn velvet chairs, apparently ancient leather sofas and frayed oriental rugs. The style is ubiquitous, but I am comforted by the impression of age and luxury: it is the sort of place where wrongs can be put right, where even the worst crisis can be soothed away. We sit at a corner table, four old friends in animated conversation. One of our group is perplexed by the latest fashions and complains that she can’t find clothes at a reasonable price that suit her. As wine washes away the last traces of reserve, we settle into the conversation. We admit to the subtle but evident changes in our bodies, we joke about having plastic surgery or a chemical peel. As always, when it comes to the subject of ageing, I am keen to be direct. ”We’re middle-aged women, we’re peri-menopausal and ageing is a feminist issue!” At first I didn’t understand the silence that greeted my bright assertion. I felt compelled to elaborate, ”We’re in our mid forties. As ageing women we are steadily becoming invisible.” My friends—all contemporaries—were now ominously quiet, a silence that could not be misinterpreted for acquiescence. I was puzzled. After all, I had not made an outrageous statement. We are all women in our forties; none of us would claim, or even wish, to be any younger. Only a few of us are experimenting with cosmetic rejuvenating procedures. Finally, someone ventured the slightly camp riposte, ”Speak for yourself. We are NOT middle aged. Wilde said we should judge by appearances and we’re looking good!” I had not expected to provoke controversy, but I should have known better. After all, I encounter people in their late sixties who refuse to see themselves as old. As a scholar of age and ageing, I know that ’age’ is

more than simply a chronological marker; it is more than the sum of the years that we have lived. If our age is a description or numerical index, then ageing refers to the process by which we negotiate the passage of time. Ageing is life itself.

----I’m in the wide, brightly-lit tracts of a large department store. It is a place that is defined by the promises of fulfillment that can be achieved through consumption. These are promises that I partly believe. The department store is both familiar and strange; it sells us garments as personal as underwear but its demeanor is comfortingly anonymous. I gravitate towards the make up counters. There are dozens of shiny counters with brassy assistants waving fat cheek brushes, spraying the air with fragrance, touting their wares. If it weren’t for the neon lighting we could be in 1850s London, where Madame Rachel made a tidy sum selling dew water from the Sahara at 47A New Bond Street. Her salon was called Beautiful For Ever. The cosmetics floor is an overwhelming sensory experience, and at first glance the brands are all similar. Yet if you look closely, you will see that there are subtle differences and these are important. Some potions are sold with hard lines and metallic edges, whilst others are all powder puff and glitter. These variations are indicative of the designs that the manufacturer has upon us. I am here to research the relationship between age and beauty. Ostensibly this is for a review that has been commissioned by the London College of Fashion. Yet I find that thoughts about beauty and age have seeped into many areas of my life. I am reading volumes on cosmetic procedures, injectables, skin re-surfacing techniques, the use of toxic enamel paints to whiten skin that continued into the

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nineteenth century. I am also intrigued by the Renaissance distinction between cosmetics and paint. The former considered natural, their use was encouraged, whereas the latter referred to poisonous minerals that were applied to the skin.

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obsolescence is so entrenched that it is understandable that a group of women in their mid forties might deny their middle age and that men and women are drawn to rejuvenation techniques.

This recalls Hamlet and his bitter remarks to Ophelia, ”I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. God has given you one face and you make yourselves another.” I wonder whether Botox is the modern paint? Whether future generations will imagine us as foolish as those women who used the leaden pigment ceruse on their faces and blinded themselves with belladonna to brighten their eyes.

I find it difficult to condemn those who wish to nip and tuck away the years and I wonder what I might be tempted to tighten as I age. Yet, attempting to preserve the surface of our youthful selves—there is as yet no surgery to make the lungs or heart younger—is a form of denial. To deny our age or our life stage is to undermine ourselves, the years that we have fruitfully lived, the experiences that we learned from, our triumphs as well as our failures.

Botox is also beginning to crop up in conversations with friends, and apparently we are late to the party. Nowadays, it seems that even women in their late twenties are starting to use these products to erase facial lines. The situation is darkly humorous. We are living in a time that is distinguished by the ageing of the world’s populations, a demographic transition that is without historical precedent. As a colleague, an old age psychiatrist, recently observed: we have a windfall of elders in our midst. Despite these seismic changes, old age remains something that we need to disguise and youth is aggressively marketed and sold to us. It is the perfect late-capitalist commodity precisely because it is unobtainable for most of us.

As I contemplate middle age, I realise that I have gradually become both subject and object of my own academic pursuits. It tickles me that my work and life seem to be in increasing harmony, in contrast with the dissonance I felt researching gerontology as a 23 year old—to say nothing of the hilarity my work often provoked amongst my peers. The process of my ageing is manifested in a myriad of ways, some of which are more tangible than others. The physical changes are most obvious and include: age spots on my hands, the creases and lines on my face, the slackening skin on my body. The lessons I have learnt, the people who have enriched my life, the sheer visceral joys of living are less obviously read from the signs on my face.

----Perhaps it is no wonder that in a fast-moving world that relies upon fleeting appearances, some of us feel that our faces after decades of facial contractions no longer represent who we are. This is compounded by the digitally-enhanced models of mass media and a culture that is unable to deal honestly with death. Western culture has so insistently associated ageing with decline and the equation of old age with

As advised by my peers, I speak for myself. However, the questions I encounter are relevant to all of us as we contemplate the intimate processes of our own ageing in the culture of the 21st century, which still reveres youth and meaninglessly pits it in opposition to age rather than as age’s companion. Hannah Zeilig is a senior research fellow at the University of the Arts, London College of Fashion.

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something curious: the quatrefoil words rosanna durham, illustration fab gorjian

revive an ancient shape hidden in many a renaissance church

Funny that a shape, in its timeless geometry, should become oldfashioned or antiquated. You’ll not often see the quatrefoil or its close relative, the barbed quatrefoil (illustrated at right), used today by painters, sculptors and designers. But at the height of the Renaissance and on the façades and stained glass windows of so many Gothic cathedrals, it’s a common sight. Artists used the quatrefoil’s four leaves

to depict scenes from Christ’s life; stonemasons carved its outline and hung it metres above the ground. Here we pay tribute to a shape that has a simple beauty, one that’s been around for a lot longer than you or I. Have a go at drawing it perhaps or, the next time you pass an old church, spend a while and don’t walk on; admire the quatrefoil.


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I wore a diaper to speed dating words samantha irby, photos angex lin

a personal essay by samantha irby Samantha Irby is a Chicago-based writer who has a blistering wit and irreverent tongue. She also has a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease, the realities of which she covers here with no mercy to herself or the reader. Her collection of essays, Meaty, is out now. You can find her online at bitchesgottaeat. blogspot.co.uk where she writes about ”tacos, hot dudes, diarrhoea, jams.”


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I was sitting on the toilet texting some stupid dude when the phone rang. My butt has been relatively good since that hospital visit in October; my immune system is completely chemically suppressed (hello, pneumonia!), I’ve been off steroids for a while, and my stomach isn’t hurting. Plus, I’m not all stressed out. But sometimes I can’t tell when what’s on my plate is going to destroy the rest of my week, and I’d had some noodles from Lulu’s and essentially had to move my whole desk into the bathroom for the evening. Books, cell phone, notebooks, magazines, markers, pens, you name it. And my cat, Helen Keller, sleeping on the bath mat. It was Cara. ”Black or fat?” she asked. ”Black or fat?” I hate when people start a conversation as if you just finished one that had been interrupted. I racked my brain trying to find a point of reference. ”Sam, you need to decide. Black or fat?” ”Um, both I guess? No one’s ever asked me to choose before. There’s no fat box to check on the census.” ”You fucking idiot. I’m trying to sign up for this stupid speed dating you’re making me go to, and we have to choose whether we want to go to Chocolate Singles Mingle or Curvy Girls Rule. Which would you prefer?” I started laughing, because all I could think about was saying, ”Check my fat box,” to some dude. ”Focus, asshole,” she said, ”and pick one before the page refreshes and I have to enter in all my information again.” Well, therein lies the dilemma. I have only ever seriously dated black dudes, and I have never even seen a pink penis in the flesh before. I’m not lying. Almost thirty-one goddamned years old, and I’ve only ever seen nappy pubic hair. And not for lack of trying, nor because of some inherent racism. White dudes just have not hit on this big black ass, and everybody knows I don’t go barking up trees I can’t piss on. White dudes always want me to be their sassy black sidekick, and that would get old if they didn’t always drive the getaway car and pay for absolutely everything. Sometimes dudes who are into fat chicks are fucking creepy, or they’re losers hoping to take advantage of some low self-esteem. Gross. But then the thought of moving from one table to the next of salty black dudes who thought some video hos might show up was even worse. How do you choose? Firing squad or guillotine? ”Fat,” I finally said. I could hear laptop keys clicking and clacking. ”Perfect. You owe me thirty-five dollars. See you next week.” Click. Cara showed up at my apartment wearing a long black dress with a plunging neckline and high-heeled knee boots, and her hair was all done up and fancy. I thought this shit-show was a joke. I knew we were going to go for real, but I thought we were just going to look normal and make fun of the assholes who were participating in earnest. Even though I had just taken a shower, I felt dirty and gross just standing next to her. Fixing my hair turned into diarrhoea I couldn’t control because, despite the fact that the idea of speed dating is comical to me, I was a little nervous. I’ve been shitting myself for twenty years, so having diarrhoea doesn’t often get in the way of whatever it is I’m trying to do. I just put a butt pad in my pants and keep it moving. But the only thing I could find in my closet were adult diapers. ”I have to wear a diaper,” I called to Cara, who was making some Campari sodas for us in the kitchen. That bitch isn’t fazed by shit, and she came around the corner and was like, ”I have a bottle of perfume in my bag in case some shit leaks out, to cover up the smell.” I love my fucking friends. So I put on one of my best bras, slathered on diaper cream, folded some soft gauze pads between my ass cheeks, and immediately started to panic. ”I can’t go,” I blurted, on the verge of tears. ”No one wants to date this person.” I waved my hand at all of my

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butt supplies and accoutrements piled on the bathroom sink. ”No dude wants to be with a broad who goes through nineteen rolls of toilet paper in a month. I’m staying the fuck home.” I talk so much shit, but I really do get very sad when I’m counting out all of my pills and dragging economy-sized bags of adult diapers home on the train, when I’m ordering rubber underpants on the internet from websites that have pictures of smiling active seniors waving at me with their new comfort grip ultra absorbent poo pants and crinkly sheets that just wipe clean. One of my friends recently described me as bitter, and if it ever appears that way you know I don’t mean it. Bitter is one of those words with a horrible connotation, and I promise you that isn’t what I am. I’m funny, but what I really am is a 31-year-old adult who spends a lot of time sick and drugged and diapered. So pardon me if I’m not a ray of sunshine 100% of the goddamned time. I put my face paint on anyway, blubbering the whole time that I should just throw in the dating towel and wait until I’m fifty and can find some sixty-year-old who can actually relate to all of my incessant leaking, and then I put on some jewellery and the


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worst possible shirt to wear when meeting someone for the first time, this slippery wrap business that never stays tied. Then I wrote my hot doctor’s number on a post-it and stuck it in Cara’s wallet. She looked at me crazy and I said, ”In case this turns into a flare-up. A couple times I’ve fainted from the pain.” ”Don’t faint,” she admonished. ”Seriously. No one will go out with you.” The cab driver let us out in a dirty puddle of slush that I am almost positive had vomit in it, then we showed the door guy our IDs, and I’m pretty sure he gave me a pity look right before we went inside. The bar was really lovely, all dim twinkling lights and dark wood tables and shiny hardwood floors, elegant tablecloths and soft music. ”It smells like bacon in here,” I snipped, glancing around at my competition, ”and I bet every spanx in the greater Chicagoland area is in this room right now.” As a rule, I refuse to wear spanx, or any item of clothing that requires I externally bind all of my internal organs to fit into it. The cheerful woman at a table across from the door motioned for us to come over to her. She very excitedly showed us the blank name tags and explained how the evening was going to work. The men were going to move from table to table at three-minute intervals to ensure that no fires broke out from all of that thigh meat rubbing against itself at the same time, while we remained seated. She didn’t really say it like that. Her name was Amy and she had a voice like a chipmunk and spoke in exclamation points: ”Is this your first speed date event? Are you nervous? You get two complimentary drinks! Who are you gals looking forward to meeting?” I wrote ’Thunder Thighs’ on my name tag and affixed it above my boob. ”Closeted homosexuals?” Cara had written ’Delores’ on hers. ”Ex-convicts?” ”Dudes who are 43 and still live at home with their mothers?” I could hear Amy’s little heart breaking. ”We’re going to start soon,” she sighed wearily, no exclamation point. ”Go get your drinks.” I settled at a corner table and skimmed the crowd of dudes for one I might find sexually provocative. I saw a lot of homemade sweaters and outdated shoes, and when I spotted a dude in a motherfucking bolo tie I immediately decided that a diaper was most definitely not the worst thing a person could wear to have 900 mini dates with a bunch of judgemental strangers. The first dude was tall and dark-skinned and introduced himself as Jordan, while pointing to his name tag. I pointed to my own name tag and said, ”Thunder.” He did not laugh. Dating black people is difficult, because in addition to all of the Newport smoke and hypertension and sassy attitudes and lottery tickets, it is often impossible to nail down how old we are at a glance. This dude could have been 22 or 68. ”Tell me the last five records you bought,” he said. My immediate response was this: ”Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter, Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective, Black Skin No Value by Cody Chesnutt, Alegranza by El Guincho, and Eyelid Movies by Phantogram.” I was starting to get excited. I really love dudes who are into music. ”What about you?” ”That new Black Eyed Peas album is pretty good.” ”Ahahahahaha, that’s hilarious!” I said loudly. Blank stare. ”That’s funny?” Holy shit. You can’t ask someone a question like, ”What are the last five records you bought?” when you listen, in earnest, to The Black Eyed Peas. How am I supposed to know that isn’t a joke? I’m a huge audiophile, and I could have named the last fifty albums I bought: Health, New Mastersounds, Arcade Fire, Menomena, Kanye, Warpaint... I could continue but you all would get mad. But it is impossible that what is on my ipod matters to you if you have the Now That’s What I Call Music! compilations on your own. We sat uncomfortably for a few seconds until the referee tinkled her little bell, and I mentally took back everything I’d said about three minutes not being enough time to become properly acquainted with a person. I’d cycled through ten or so uninteresting dudes when we were informed we could take a bathroom break. I made a beeline for Cara. ”This sucks, right?” ”I am actually having a really good time,” that traitorous bitch replied. ”I’ve hit it off with quite a few of these guys.” I scowled at the men wandering around the room. ”Who?” I barked, folding my arms angrily over my naked bosom. ”Jerome, in the khakis. Stephen, the Latino or maybe Asian. And I had a really nice time talking to Harrison, the white guy with the salt-and-pepper hair.”

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I pouted my jealous ass to the bathroom, where I commandeered the biggest stall. There were bitches waiting by the sinks and I could hear the dull roar of their whispers floating over the stall walls until I finally shouted, ”I fucking have Crohn’s Disease! Wait a goddamned minute!” and they dispersed. Fucking vultures. Stop acting like I’m doing coke off the toilet seat. Cara was swooning at Salt-And-Pepper Guy when I got back to my seat, but by that point I was too overwhelmed and exhausted to throw hate darts with my eyes. That stupid fucking bell tinkled yet again, and the men got in their places to resume their musical chairs. Bolo Tie Guy was actually pretty amusing in an unironic way, and this chubby white dude with the best glasses I have ever seen and some super cool tattoos made me laugh so hard club soda came out of my nose. Salt-And-Pepper was nice, but Cara texted me, ”What is he saying?” the second he sat down in the chair across from mine, so it was nearly impossible to enjoy his company. And then this hot piece of brisket slid into the chair. I had seen him before, but had written him off because even from across the room I could tell he was five foot seven on his best day, and the short dude ego is goddamned intolerable. I don’t mind picking up a dude and putting him in his booster seat at dinner, but not if he’s going to be chapping my fucking ass the whole time. But he was funny and engaging, enough that I could forgive him for wearing a tight-ass top to show off his musculature. I did say, ”It was nice of your little sister to lend you her sweater for the night,” but he laughed and said, ”I like funny girls.” I could see the hostess reaching for the timer that was about to go off, so I made nice and shook hands and told him my real name, and he made a joke about my bringing the thunder—the insinuation was that he can’t wait to fuck, right? did I misread that? Then it was my turn to laugh. And I did, pretty hard. And then I shit my diaper. What a betrayal this fucking body is. I sat there trying not to let it show on my face, mentally calculating the amount of liquid that had come out, whether I could comfortably stand up in a room full of people, trying to recall if it had made an audible sound, and hoping that it didn’t smell. When you shit water all the time it doesn’t really have an odour, it just smells a little acidic. You know how baby dumps smell sort of sweet? It’s kind of like that. Life’s little victories, I guess. ”Are you okay?” Booster Seat Guy asked, snapping me out of my reverie. ”Yes,” I said too loudly, nodding. ”Everything is fine.” ”I had a great time talking to you. I would love to see you again some time.” He stood up to walk around the table. Why is he doing that? Why? Oh, that’s right, to hug me. ”We should definitely hang out. Email me or something. They have my info at the front desk.” I didn’t move, just sat there woodenly, willing my diarrhoea to absorb, or at least not run down my leg. I was blinking 700 times a minute to keep the tears at bay. I hadn’t heard anything the host said, but apparently the event was over, because people were milling around putting on coats and exchanging phone numbers and facebooks. At this point he was standing over me and I was just paralysed in my chair, terrified to move. I wasn’t really upset, I just wanted to get up and fucking go home. And I wanted to do that without hugging a dude while in a poopy diaper. What if he grabbed my ass or something? He was only knee high to a junebug, and what if this short motherfucker’s only option once I stood towering over him was to wrap those teeny arms around my waist? Now it was awkward and I was looking like a huge asshole, so I stood up and grabbed the hand he was trying to snake around my back and shook it, firmly, like a real man would. But that wouldn’t do, as he laughed heartily and pulled me in for a long hug. Once I’d stood up I could feel that there was liquid human waste seeping out from the bottom and climbing up my back, and I almost shouted as he did the back-rub-whileI-am-hugging-you thing. I was about to cry. Mortifying. Finally, I broke away and scribbled my email on a napkin and threw it in his direction before snatching my bag up from the floor and high-tailing it over to where Cara and Salt-And-Pepper were huddled in a booth. ”I have to leave,” I shout-talked. ”I am going to leave right now.” She gave me the death stare because she obviously wanted to stay and motioned toward the bar. ”Just get another drink, Sam. Calm down.”


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”I am covered in my own waste, Cara. I need to get out of this diaper and go to the emergency room. I don’t think a couple of beers is going to fix that. Call me later.” SaltAnd-Pepper’s eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. ”Yeah, dude, we had a date while I was wearing a diaper.” I rolled my eyes and walked away then stealthily tucked two handfuls of bar napkins in the back of my pants to soak up the excess. I looked up to find Booster Seat standing in front of me in the corner of the room in which I thought I’d been hidden, his mouth agape. He was holding the napkin with my email scrawled on it. ”I was just wondering if this was an e or a c,” he said finally. At this point who the fuck cared. I sighed in defeat and shoved in another handful of napkins. ”It’s an e,” I muttered, ”but I’m sure you want to just throw that out now. It’s cool. Nice to meet you.” I cried in the cab and called my gastroenterologist’s office, trying to get hold of the on-call physician for the evening. The answering service left me on hold for the entire cab ride home, 22 minutes. I took the elevator upstairs, fed Helen, turned my phone off and put it in the sock drawer, then fell asleep in the bathtub.

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cups of tea: a colour chart

Next issue is suffused with colour, from sugar-pop brights to sunsets that fade from yellow to blue so gradually that you can’t make out where one begins and the other ends. We’d like you to take a birds-eye-view photo of your cuppa: tea, coffee, hot chocolate, chamomile, lapsang souchong, rooibos or hot toddy. Tell us how you like your drink: with a splash of milk, a dash of bourbon, five sugars, or a cinnamon stick. Your snaps of hot drinks will come together on a patchwork page next issue celebrating the rainbows in our tea cups. Send your photo to teacuprainbow@ohcomely.co.uk by December 16th, and don’t forget to include your name and location. Photo above by Tamara Vos.


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home from home places to go, people to see

the royal school of needlework

made brighton

www.royal-needlework.org.uk

www.brighton-made.co.uk / 21st-24th november

What’s for sale? Gift vouchers for day classes in hand embroidery— the perfect Christmas present! Prices start at £73. What’s your motto? Keeping the art of hand embroidery alive. Recommend us something special. Try one of our introduction classes and have fun learning a new skill. They’re perfect for beginners or to learn embroidery techniques in-depth on our certificate course.

What’s your story? Made Brighton returns to the heart of the city showcasing over 100 contemporary designer-makers across all media. What’s your mission? Produce the highest-quality contemporary craft and design fairs and bring makers directly in contact with their buying public. Recommend us something special. Karina Gill’s etched silver bowls and Llynfi Textiles woollen womenswear to keep snug in winter!

mama xanadu’s supper club

eclectic eccentricity

www.mamaxanadus.com

www.eclecticeccentricity.co.uk

What’s the story? A creative and playful pop-up brunch and supper club set on a London narrowboat, run by author Jemma Foster. What’s your motto? Cooking and writing are forms of storytelling. They share the creative process of inventing characters and blending the right ingredients. Recommend us something special. Mama Xanadu’s very own Bloody Mary with homemade bacon vodka.

What’s for sale? Inspired by trinkets with a history, there’s a range of charming pieces made from vintage components. What’s your mission? To create unique and enchanting pieces for the inquisitive of heart. Recommend us something special. Our ’Heroine’ collection inspired by heroic women and an enduring feminine spirit. Think bold forms, lustrous gemstones and vintage delicacies.


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muddy lovely words beth davis illustrations livi gosling

clay-based beauty products for your inner prize pig When it comes to skincare I’ve always leaned towards soap and water, plus some unscented lotions and potions. My nana used nothing but soap and cold cream on her face all her life and she has the softest skin imaginable. She’s also a keen advocate for corned beef and trifle so make of that what you will. If you’re looking for truly natural skincare then not many things can claim to be more so than mud. It’s also well known as a key element of the porcus beauty regime, who have some of the most enviable skins in existence. With all this in mind I decided to test six different remedies, to see if they could leave me looking muddy lovely too.


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mudd original mask Original by name and original by nature, this is the face mask I can remember first buying as a teenager when we started to spend our pocket money on nail varnish, magazines and make up rather than sweets and sticker books—and subsequently being told to clean off the towels and bathroom tiles. Fast forward fifteen years and the Pure Clay formula didn’t look particularly pure: aqua and alcohol were the only recognisable ingredients, the latter being precisely what I was trying to rid my skin of this particular day. The smell was faintly plasticky and highly evocative of those first forays but, whilst I didn’t quite have teenage skin underneath, it did feel soft and clean. Although the most artificial of the lot, for 99p it was still a cheap and very cheerful beauty trick.

sea of spa, black mud soap The packaging of this soap bar won me from the start, styled like a seventies postcard, with ”The Miraculous Source” in shiny silver lettering. This miracle being the Black Sea, the lowest point on earth and therefore, ”home to a unique concentration of minerals that can heal skin ailments, stimulate blood circulation and make sure you’ve always got milk in the fridge.” Okay, I added the last one. It had a salty, clean, old-fashioned smell and dried to a chalky white dust that washed off to leave my skin feeling soft and looking fresh. I liked this so much I’ve carried on using it since and have received several compliments on my skin. Let’s not forget, though, that I had a four-masks-a-week habit for the duration of this article.

dead sea spa magik, algimud seaweed mask

montagne jeunesse, dead sea face spa

Despite my serious reservations about the use of k in Magik, this mask turned out to be one of my favourites. It came in a luxury cardboard carton complete with a wooden spatula, which you use to mix the sachet of powder with water to a smooth paste before applying to your face.

Intriguingly, this mask came as a slightly terrifying, pre-treated fabric face mask to lay across your skin, thus avoiding any mess. Although this was quite appealing, the Montagne Jeunesse tagline of ”sexy, natural skincare” was pushing it a bit once I was wearing it, and the overall effect was similar to the film poster for The Skin I live In, complete with the nervous look behind the eyes.

I’ll admit, my mask was a little lumpy, but I have the same problem with custard and cheese sauce so it was no great surprise. I settled back to let it dry to a rubbery finish whilst I tried to ignore the slightly sulphuric smell the mask was giving off. Peeling it away afterwards, though, my skin felt infinitely cleaner. Whether it was the air of authority coming from that spatula or the results themselves, this felt like the most professional treatment and the one that I would certainly go for again if I was feeling in need of it.

lush cosmetics, dark angels This ’fresh cleanser’ is made with rhassoul mud, charcoal and black sugar, along with cold-pressed avocado and essential oils, which made it one of the most pleasingly natural and edible-sounding picks of the bunch. It came as a dark, squidgy block that I mixed with water before applying. It was like making a mud pie in the palm of my hand. It also had a delicate smell of essential oils that I loved, but left my skin feeling incredibly tight in the first instance, which wasn’t entirely a good thing. This was quickly relieved with moisturiser, and I looked freshly scrubbed and bright-faced after that.

Between this and the sickly sweet smell, I felt less than pampered, and ended up taking it off after about eight minutes. On the plus side, it was wonderfully effortless, and the after-effects weren’t bad. However, the forlorn fabric face staring at me from the bin was more than enough to put me off using it again.

a homemade mask In further pursuit of a truly natural mask, I decided to try a homemade recipe. The one I used called for Fuller’s Earth, along with rose water and some mashed-up cucumber. The mask felt incredibly refreshing on, and the rose water-cucumber combination wasn’t unlike my favourite brand of gin, which was a nice touch. Washing it off, my skin felt tight and nicely soothed, and my fridge was looking better for losing the lingering half cucumber. I had thought that making my own mask might prove to be expensive, but a big bag of clay powder cost me £4, and once you’ve got your basic ingredients there’s countless other variations to try: avocado, oats, essential oils. Less appealingly, one recipe called for clean cat litter: ”It’s basically just clay!” Not this time.


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pork scratchings

item one: ethical bacon

item two: plastic bacon

Troubled about where your meat comes from? Of course there’s an app for that. Built to inform the concerned pork connoisseur, Where’s This From will provide you with a history of your would-be supper by charting the journey from supplier to supermarket shelf, right down to the slaughterhouse and how they scored on hygiene and animal welfare. All you have to do is tap the code on the packet into a smartphone. Check out www.wheresthisfrom.com.

Why waste money on self-defence classes when you could carry a fake piece of bacon around? We were astonished to discover that one of the team did precisely this. She said, ”Stealing a plastic rasher from a prop cupboard turned out to be one of the more useful pointless decisions I have made in my life. By the time you have brandished it at your attacker, there is a chance they will flee out of sheer confusion. If not, it delivers a surprisingly effective slap.”

item three: automated bacon

item four: life-affirming bacon

item five: tattooed bacon

Designer Matty Sallin hacked a cheap alarm clock with a pair of heating lamps and a little compartment to slip a piece of frozen bacon inside. The result? Wake’n Bacon: a clock that wakes you with the smell of freshly-cooked bacon rather than that insistent beeping sound. If you find off-putting the thought of sleeping in a room with a piece of defrosting bacon or getting grease on your bedsheets, this isn’t the alarm clock for you.

If politics is getting you down, pay heed to the wise words of comedian Louis C. K. ”Life is an amazing gift. You get to be on earth! You get to put bacon in your mouth! When you have bacon in your mouth, it doesn’t matter who the president is.” Fear not, vegetarians, he also has a book recommendation. ”You get to read To Kill A Mockingbird! It’s a great life.” He’s right, To Kill A Mockingbird is a pretty good book.

Tattoo apprentices have long been practising their art on spare pieces of pig skin discarded by butchers’ shops. Even modern-day plastic ‘practice skin’ cannot replicate the stretch and shift of human skin under the needle in quite the same way. One of the team had a housemate in tattooist training, and she would often fling open the freezer to find an elaborately-inked piece of meat inside. They were strictly not for eating.

buttery leftovers we discovered while making the issue


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Oh Comely magazine issue 18, winter 13/14  

Because curious minds don't think alike. Oh Comely is best enjoyed in paper 'n' ink format; get the latest issue here: http://ohcomely.co.uk...

Oh Comely magazine issue 18, winter 13/14  

Because curious minds don't think alike. Oh Comely is best enjoyed in paper 'n' ink format; get the latest issue here: http://ohcomely.co.uk...

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