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£4 ISSUE TWENTY MAY/JUN 2014

WE CAN BE HEROES STUDIO GHIBLI’S FOUNDER RETIRES FOR THE FINAL TIME PLAYING FRANKENSTEIN WITH A PILE OF FOUND TOYS JENNY JONES IS A SNOWBOARD HERO BAKING BREAD IN THE AUSTRIAN MOUNTAINS AND BATH BOMBS WITH EXTRA GLITTER


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this magazine will make you smile and peel back the layers of a papered-over poster bake a loaf of mountain bread fall victim to enchantment meet your hero


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oh comely

keep your curiosity sacred editors liz bennett, des tan

deputy editor rosanna durham fashion liz seabrook film jason ward music linnea enstrom craft hannah bailey editorial maggie crow, olivia wilson, tamara vos thanks megan conery, kirsty lee, emma rossiter words annie atkins, benjamin brill, emily gaudette, fab gorjian, edie lamort, sophia pearson, ashica stephen, sophie wright

pictures martha anne, eylül aslan, siegrid cain, vanessa chan, robert chilton, toby coulson, fiona essex, owen gent, anthony gerace, lisa marie grigsby, maria ines gul, eugene gusarov, kris hatch, india hobson, puzzleman leung, cristóbal marambio, helen mcguckin, mariam sitchinava, katarina smuraga, ann summa, beinta á torkilsheyggi, andrea tsurumi, zosienka 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 twenty, may/jun 2014. 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, Valeriia Karaman, by Beinta á Torkilsheyggi. Hair and make up by Verity Cumming, with assistance from Kate O’Brien. The stripey blouse is from Topshop. On the back cover is a box of human wisdom teeth from Kirsty Lee’s collection. www.ohcomely.co.uk Contents © 2014 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.


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Photos above and on the previous page by Mariam Sitchinava.


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

20 sketchbook geography william grill’s coloured pencil countries 26 in search of the playful ape in times of crisis, bonobos make love not war

art

28 the fog of rumsfeld documentary-maker errol morris takes on donald rumsfeld 32 gifts for strippers holy water and too many chocolates 60 wartime evacuee, storyteller, hero an interview with my aunt

heroes

64 the collector dogs’ teeth, sheep’s teeth and the odd set of dentures: I hoard them all 68 the sharp edge of a unicorn horn just because nadia kamil is funny, it doesn’t mean she’s not serious 70 carving it out snowboarder jenny jones and her olympic bronze medal

people

86 I can see clearly fine spectacles to frame your face 92 now this chapter in our lives is shut meditations on moving out, moving on, and vacuuming under the beds of an empty apartment

and

36 the last flight of hayao miyazaki the legendary founder of studio ghibli is retiring for the final time 42 x lee portraits of what it means to be free 52 one person’s pain can be someone else’s promise rapper angel haze speaks the bitter truth and the hopeful truth 72 frankenstein’s toy box hacking old toys into cut-and-paste superheroes 78 my neighbour, ray davies all the things I never said to the kinks singer 80 on a cold brighton beach actor noah taylor fishes for words 82 the day my eating disorder was louder than opera my sister was the lead soprano, but I drowned her out 94 polaroid vox pop instant portraits of people and their pockets 98 watch the day pass clothes for lounging in style 104 bearing witness to enchantment the magic words of rachel kushner

108 my mother’s metamorphosis family stories that bleed into my life like stains from a tea bag

122 I gradually papered over the poster of kurt cobain how musical heroes shaped my becoming

112 the alpine baker making bread in the mountains of austria an hour’s walk from the nearest shop

124 first encounters when readers met their heroes

118 gee fizz! bath bombs are easier to make than a plate of scrambled eggs

126 cuppa supper microwave a meal in a mug in minutes 128 lady fingers the teatime treats with a sinister secret


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let’s write letters correspondence that made us smile send us post: oh comely magazine, third floor, 116 high holborn, wc1v 6rd

Hello, So, on page fourteen of issue nineteen of oh comely, you said to pop in an email in regards to winning something tangerine, marmalade or mandarin. As a born ginger true and true, anything of the ‘orange’ kind grabs my attention. As requested here’s a friendly email to say hello! I don’t actually own anything that orange, except my hair, but I grew that myself (does that count?) so I like orange things. Also, I wanted to say as an aspiring writer, your magazine is a great inspiration and I have no shame in saying that I am obsessed; so glad I picked it up randomly in WHSmith the other day. I fully believe magazines like yours are a sort of legacy that needs to be continued, even when so much of our media is now based online. I think there will always be a love affair with the published word. Even so, it is important we cherish and appreciate magazines, like the one that you guys create. And because your magazine makes me smile, I hope you enjoy my orange-based puns. They’re so horrific, it is okay to laugh at them: I find the mini leather journals truly ‘a-peel-ing’. I could pretend to be all writery in Victoria Park and look like I have my life together rather than in ‘segments’. I could write about my next article idea or write a poem, but I’d need to ‘concentrate’. Sometimes I get distracted so I’ll probably end up writing down my favourite ‘pulp’ fiction quotes. Either way, the journal would be put to good ‘juice’. I was cringing so bad writing that, I’m so sorry, I do love a pun. Anyways, thank you for taking the time to read this ridiculous email. Recommending the mag to all my friends as well. All the best, Ciara


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


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what we ate a fizzling tray of homemade honeycomb


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some people who helped make this issue their heroes and favourite microwave meals ashica stephen, writer

puzzleman leung, photographer

Ashica told the story of her mother’s arranged marriage and suitcase of forgotten dreams, page 108.

Puzzleman’s funny and heart-warming photo series, XL, catalogues days in the life of a free-spirited friend, page 42.

Tell us a little about yourself. I collect quotes! I have this huge sketchbook where I jot down song lyrics or anything nice that I read in books or hear in films. I’m also a massive hoarder of silly items, like cinema tickets and leaflets, that represent important moments in my life.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work. I was born in Macau, the gambling city next to Hong Kong, but I have been living in Taipei more than six years to study. X Lee, the man in XL, is the most interesting guy I have ever known: sometimes he is crazy to do anything, at other times he is sentimental to write a poem. He lives in the kingdom of freedom.

What do you love most about writing? I love the infinite ways there are of phrasing something. The whole meaning of a sentence can be altered when you change one word, which leaves you with so many methods of communicating a single point. My favourite quote about writing is from Ian McEwan’s Atonement: “A story was a form of telepathy. By means of inking symbols onto a page, she was able to send thoughts and feelings from her mind to her reader’s. It was a magical process, so commonplace that no one stopped to wonder at it.” What are the difficult and satisfying things about writing family memoir? The most difficult thing is trying not to romanticise the past, and the most satisfying thing is being able to find a way to immortalise your memories. Do you have a favourite magically-quick microwave meal? Reheated leftover pizza.

Can you remember the first photograph that you were proud of? There was a girl I always used to photograph when we were in sophomore. It was the first time that I was happy and proud of taking someone’s photographs. She was the starting point. This issue is themed around heroes. If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Time freezing, but purely to stop time, and allow everyone to move as usual. When someone has to leave someone else, freezing time can give them more time to stay together. Even a single minute is rich for people who are going to separate. What’s the best cure for a broken heart? Crying, travelling, meeting friends, and gummy bears. cargocollective.com/puzzlemanleung


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andrea tsurumi, illustrator

toby coulson, photographer

The tasty teatime treats are not what they seem; Andrea uncovered the sinister truth on page 128.

A rapper, a comedian, an actor: Toby’s versatile camera captured artists of diverse disciplines throughout this issue.

Tell us a little about yourself and your work. I’m an illustrator and cartoonist interested in history, monsters and absurdity. I was included on the 2013 Best American Comics Notables list. My work has been in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and will appear in The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature.

Tell us a bit about your work. Photography for me comes from a fascination in people and their environments. I love putting myself in new places, and just wandering and exploring. Photography gives you an excuse and a reason to be there. I like how photography takes you on a journey; you can end up at a completely different place to where you started.

Was there anything you used to draw a lot as a child? Animals having adventures, particularly kangaroos. Egyptian mummies also appeared in many drawings because I thought they lived in closets and wanted to kill me. This issue, we experimented with microwave cooking. Do you have a favourite magically-quick microwave meal? We didn’t have a microwave growing up, so I’m still an amateur. Mostly, I can heat up tea, soften butter for baking, or slowly destroy a Marshmallow Peep. At my first post-college job, all my co-workers hung around the office microwave to watch them melt.

Can you remember the first photograph you took that you were proud of? I used to take a lot of photos of my mum’s chickens on my 35mm point-and-shoot. One of my favourite techniques was dangling a bit of spaghetti from my hand so that the chicken would fly into the air and I could catch it mid flight, beak clamped on to the end of the spaghetti. There must be a good few albums-worth of my chicken photography that I was very proud of at the time.

If you were Victorian lady in desperate straits, what would you pawn off? Bustles. Most of my assets would be in bustles.

Do you have a hero? I have a lot of photographic ones, but my main hero is Bob Dylan. The thing that makes him a hero to me is how he has reinvented himself throughout his career, always trying new things, not always successfully.

andreatsurumi.com

tobycoulson.com


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pretty lovely curated by olivia wilson

it’s a darn fine day for a bicycle ride

if anything on the page rings your bell, convey your wishes to free@ohcomely.co.uk by the end of july; couriers also accepted

Lion Bell Works are the only company currently manufacturing bicycle bells in the UK. lionbellworks.co.uk Look Mum No Hands have cool cycle shop-cum-cafes and even cooler caps. lookmumnohands.com This handy kit by Gentlemen’s Hardware contains all the essentials for on-the-go repairs. wildandwolf.com/collections/gentlemens_hardware Get to grips with cycling with these gropes by Nonusual. Your handlebars will never have looked so good. nonusual.com The people from My July “love an ass in lycra,” so they made this bikethemed card set to tell cycling enthusiasts so. etsy.com/shop/myjuly Keep your tools as tidy as can be with this turquoise tool roll by Godspede. Amen to the durable buckles and double-guided strap design. etsy.com/uk/shop/WhippetCyclingCo


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brompton make bikes you can fit in a suitcase It’s a March morning and for Will ButlerAdams of Brompton this is shorts-only weather aboard his folding bike. I couldn’t help but feel a little envious as he told me of his commute into the city. Innovators of the folding bicycle, Brompton epitomise the freedom and independence of bikes in an urban setting. We have Brompton saddles to give away in a range of bonny colours. If you’d like a chance to win one, email us at free@ohcomely.co.uk with the most adventurous thing you’ve got up to on a bike, be it accident or triumph. Independence and flexibility seem to be at the heart of Brompton Bicycles. It’s a nobrainer. It’s like a Swiss Army Knife of a bicycle: when you don’t want it, it disappears, and when you suddenly find you do want it, you can pick it up, hop on and whiz off! On a bike you can go through the park, along the tow path, get to know your city really well and just have a great time while getting fit and looking after the environment. Tell us how Brompton began. We have the inventor, Andrew Ritchie, to thank for the wonderfully weird little bike. He studied engineering at Cambridge and, unlike his friends who went on to high-flying jobs, Andrew’s brain was far too active and he

was determined to do his own thing. After dabbling in several projects, he set about creating an improved design for the folding bike. Andrew lived opposite a large church called the Brompton Oratory, and he named it after that. He still rents the same flat today. We read a story about a man who took his Brompton to the South Pole. Do many people share their adventures with you? We’ve had people pedalling around the world. They’ve been through Nepal, through Tibet and across China, around Taiwan, across America, Australia. Amazing adventures going on all over the place! The chap at the South Pole used his Brompton to help with data collection; he’d unfold it, whizz along picking up all his data and whizz back. It served a purpose and we had no idea. You must have the folding and unfolding technique down to a fine art. How quickly can you fold and unfold yours? At the World Championships, we have the fold and unfold competition. I can consistently get nine seconds, eight seconds on a very rare day, but one of our staff has managed seven. Once you’ve got the hang of it, anybody should be able to fold and unfold a Brompton in around twenty seconds. brompton / brompton.com


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sketchbook geography interview rosanna durham

william grill maps out landscapes in effortless coloured pencil

William Grill’s favourite sketchbook is a Moleskine. With their waxy, off-white paper and soft outer shell, the books line a shelf or two in his London studio. Open one up and suddenly you’re looking at landscapes, station concourses, patterns, typeface doodles, people picked out from the crowd. These are Grill’s fast and deliberate sketches executed in humble coloured pencil. A simple toolbox of sketchbooks and pencils is the grounding of Grill’s emergent practice as a designer and illustrator. Since he graduated from University College Falmouth, he has worked on an array of projects for clients as diverse as Harrods and the South Downs National Park. Whatever the commission, he returns to sketches and Moleskines throughout his work. Here’s an illustrator that makes drawing feel as easy as appreciating a good view. You incorporate the natural world, geography and history into your illustrations. What is it that you find satisfying about bringing these disciplines into the artistic sphere? A taste for the

outdoors has definitely shaped the kind of thing I like to work on today. I spent my early days in a cracking little place called West Harting on the South Downs. Not much goes on there, so I passed time with my brothers and next-door neighbours building dens, damming rivers and making fires. I think I’d still be doing that if I could. Both my parents were geography teachers. They travelled a lot too, and I loved all the objects they’d bring home, from huge pine cones and colourful rugs to wooden elephants. I enjoy stories with adventure and the natural world is full of stories big and small; stories that we may not even notice recurring day to day. There is something satisfying in recording them. How did your illustration style change while you were at university? When I started my drawings were quite dull really! Giving myself limitations helped me develop my own style. I spent quite a bit of time experimenting with colour and drew in tone instead of line. The turning point for me was when I started using colouring pencils in my sketchbook, as it tied these things together. Having a visual

identity comes through focussing on content, medium or design. You’ve just finished a book-length project about Shackleton’s unsuccessful journey to the South Pole. Do you think the journey was a failure, or a great act of human endeavour? Shackleton’s was an incredible journey and a testament to bravery and endurance. And although it was almost a catastrophic failure, it highlighted heroic qualities in the men and animals that they might never have even known they had. A phrase I like is, “Just because you fail doesn’t make you a failure.” It’s often when we are in the worst situations that we see what we’re capable of. Do you have a hero? Carl Sagan would have to be my hero. He was a cosmologist and author, most famous for co-writing and narrating the classic TV show Cosmos. Although clearly a very intelligent man, I love Carl most for his child-like amazement and enthusiasm for nature. It’s infectious and he leaves you in awe of the world around you. Shackleton’s Journey is out now, published by Flying Eye Books / www.williamgrill.co.uk

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A selection of spreads from William Grill’s sketchbooks. Top left: notes on colour; bottom right: the South Downs National Park; top right: extracts from Grill’s Shackleton sketchbook.


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Whenever I feel like my dreams are being threatened, I resort to guerilla tactics. Angel Haze, page 52


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weishin wang, 2012, by puzzleman leung


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in search of the playful ape interview fab gorjian, portrait fiona essex

the violence of chimp societies is well documented, but isabel behncke izquierdo studies bonobos, their lesser-known and more peaceful cousins

Primatologist Isabel Behncke Izquierdo spends much of her time in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she studies the play behaviour of wild bonobos for the University of Oxford. But when at home she makes time for the odd impromptu interview. I’d come to her house to talk to Beau Lotto, her partner in life and work (see oh comely issue nineteen), but before Beau and I had even started he said, “You must interview Isabel too, if she has the time. She’s amazing.” And so she is.

Is there something particular that you’re trying to find out? I’m studying the play of adult bonobos. Bonobo society is a very peaceful society, just so different from chimps. So far, no infanticide or lethal aggression has been recorded. You have males from one group playing with the infants of another group. A chimp would likely kill the infant. Bonobos use sex and play to buffer stress and confrontation, and so in stressful situations there are outbursts of sexual activity. But the other thing that gels a group together is play behaviour.

What are you working on at the moment? At large, human behaviour and evolution. Specifically, the social behaviour of wild bonobos. Are you familiar with bonobos?

Do lots of animals play into adulthood? The universal premise is that warm-blooded vertebrates—birds and mammals—play as adolescents and stop in adulthood. It’s mostly true, but not for all species. Dolphins, elephants, crows—

Are they the closest species to humans genetically? Yes, together with the common chimpanzee. But they’re very different from chimps. Everyone knows of chimps as being very structured, patriarchal, violent. And because they have been much better studied than bonobos, chimps have become dominant in constructing the narrative of how humans evolved. But it’s really important now that we look at the other side of the coin, because if we only look at the violent, political, technological side, we’ll continue to only see ourselves in that way. The stories we tell of ourselves are who we are. What’s the bonobos’ story? They’re mostly different in that they are a matriarchy, and a lot of their social dynamics stem from that. What’s really extraordinary is that the females in one group aren’t related. Bonobo females leave their natal groups when they’re adolescents, and so when a female arrives to a new group she is a stranger. But then she bonds with the older females of the group, mainly through sex, but also through play. So bonobos have same-sex sex? Yes, people call them the bisexual ape, or the make-love-not-war chimpanzee. What do the females do together? Genital-genital rubbing. It’s frontfront copulation, which is fun, because people thought only humans do that. And you can see them staring each other in the eyes. It’s a very striking thing to see. That’s incredible. I can’t believe I didn’t know this. Not many people do. It’s mostly because of where the bonobos live, which is south of the river Congo. Not only is it logistically hard to reach—there are no proper roads, it’s the middle of the forest—but of course the politics of the Congo have made it very difficult. During the last war around six million people died, and of course research had to be stopped. The country is corrupt. It must be a difficult place to work. Oh, yes! Overall I’ve been lucky, but the major danger is the forest. There are dangerous creatures everywhere, and branches that fall, and lots of illnesses. I’ve been attacked by wild boars twice, I’ve come across many snakes. If you get ill with malaria, for example, there’s no way for a quick evacuation. You have to trust the small charter plane from the missionaries, which is the only reliable plane. It’s never easy.

Elephants play as adults? Absolutely! And actually the play of dolphins is one of the most extraordinary things. And dogs, of course. Play has underlined both the creation and maintenance of social relations, of trust, knowing yourself and others. But it also largely underpins creativity and innovation, adaptiveness. It allows you to be comfortable with uncertainty, to find it exciting. Do you think larger brains have led to play, or that play has led to larger brains? I wouldn’t make a causation argument because feedback goes both ways. Play is an expensive behaviour; you need time, safety, energy. Big brains help with that, and big brains tend to have more complex play. But play in turn increases social intelligence. It gives you a safe place to explore what you might not be able to explore in reality. And we know that the human brain evolved largely through social interaction. That’s a funny dichotomy because I think most people associate play with naïvety, but you’re also saying that play increases intelligence and awareness. A very interesting point, because intelligence means knowledge, but surely naïvety means lack of knowledge. On the other hand, if you look at the life stories of highly creative people who maintained their creativity into old age, you always find a recurring theme. Whether it’s Picasso or Einstein, they tell you that you must learn to look at things like a child. You must remain naïve. So, what were they saying? They weren’t saying that they didn’t know how to tie their shoelaces! I think they meant you must keep yourself open to uncertainty. It’s occurred to me that your work on bonobos must be used in arguments by feminist groups a lot. Is that right? Yes, and I have a complex relationship with that. Yes, bonobo societies have less aggression, less conflict and they are more tolerant, but I don’t want it to be an argument for inciting more male versus female squabbles. I want things to get to the next step, where you see integration. We need to change the dialogue, and to recognise differences, but not be damned by them. Having said all that, I do think bonobos have a lot to tell us. It’s not like we will solve the Middle-Eastern crisis if everyone there had more sex, but they might as well give it a go.


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the fog of rumsfeld interview jason ward

documentary-maker errol morris on interviewing the man with an answer to all the questions

One of the most significant documentarians of his generation, Errol Morris has mostly spent the past 35 years making films about colourful eccentrics and outsiders. In 2003, however, the filmmaker shifted his focus from pet cemetery owners and delusional beauty queens to former US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in his Oscar-winning documentary, The Fog of War. While his latest film The Unknown Known is another feature-length interview with a former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, it is markedly different in tone. Where McNamara earnestly contemplated his legacy, Rumsfeld obfuscates and eludes. Shortly before The Unknown Known’s release, Errol reflected on why audiences shouldn’t be expecting a sequel to his earlier film. Donald Rumsfeld has done countless interviews. How did you try to get him to open up in a different way? It was tricky. The first day I met him I was invited to join him while he answered questions from reporters on speakerphone about his new memoir. We’re sitting there and he’s asked these completely expected questions that he’s been asked hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of times. “Did you really think there were WMDs in Iraq?” “Did you think the number of troops used in the invasion were sufficient?” “Do you believe adequate preparations had been made for the aftermath of the war?” It had the quality of a vending machine. Same questions, same answers. I wondered, what is this about? It represents some kind of strange exchange. It’s not necessarily investigative at all. It’s a version of theatre. I promised myself: I’m not going to do this. I don’t want to ask these same questions. I wanted to tease out something different, without really knowing what that was. And in interviewing him I found that often the most interesting stuff wasn’t the answers, it was these moments of silence, or his smile, or weird unexpected responses that aren’t really responses at all. The film pushes back on him endlessly, but it’s a different kind of movie. It’s a movie about the smile, the vanity,

the self-satisfaction, the cluelessness, the retreat into empty rules and principles and slogans. The act of interviewing a politician is often romanticised as being akin to sparring. In David Frost’s Richard Nixon interviews, for example, there’s the search for a “gotcha” moment. By contrast, what you do in your films is let people talk. What’s the value in that approach? Well, take the adversarial, Frost/Nixon approach. It’s interesting that the movie they made is very different from the interviews themselves. They had to re-imagine the so-called “gotcha” moment to make it far more dramatic than it was. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a certain audience satisfaction in it, particularly if you’re dealing with a character that is really disliked by a lot of people. They want to see him punished. They want to see him held to account and his feet held to the fire. There’s an audience satisfaction in that kind of thing, particularly in a world where we realise these people may never be held accountable. Somehow it goes back to this idea people have that I should be a version of the International Criminal Court, that I should be doing the job of trying Donald Rumsfeld. It’s not that it doesn’t interest me; it does. But I’m less interested in whether or not adequate preparations were made for the aftermath of the war. To me, the fact that we went to war in Iraq is a war crime. I’m interested in who this guy is, in how he sees himself. I’m interested in a different set of questions. The Fog of War was very much a movie about how McNamara sees himself in history, his feelings about what he did and why he did it. It’s very powerful because you feel that here’s a man tortured by history. And maybe for some people the idea was that The Unknown Known was going to be the same movie. Well, it’s not. Rumsfeld isn’t the same person. Exactly. He’s about as different from McNamara as anyone could be. I’ve made a lot of movies about selfdeception in one form or another, and I’ve done nothing better than

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Errol Morris and Donald Rumsfeld in The Unknown Known. Photo: Nubar Alexanian.


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this one. It’s not the ICC, it’s not Frost/Nixon, nor was it ever intended to be. It’s an Errol Morris film about a guy who was extraordinarily ambitious, probably still is, who wanted to conquer the world, came damn close to doing it, and somehow as the world devolves into chaos around him, he enters a Looney Tunes universe of nomenclature and vocabulary and principles that are seemingly profound but when subject to any level of scrutiny are quickly exposed as gobbledygook.

Do you think that’s why the film might be ultimately unsatisfying for a viewer looking for something confrontational? You don’t show underneath Rumsfeld, you show that there is no underneath. Unsatisfying? Maybe. To me it’s the difference between being an artist and pandering. My job is to depict something of the reality in front of my camera as I see it. I don’t see myself as the arbiter of absolute truth any more than the next guy, but I do hope I’ve captured something.

Have you spoken to him since? It’s clear that he doesn’t have a desire for self-reflection. Do you think seeing the film made him register what he was doing? I don’t think anything registers with him. I’ve not talked to him since he saw the final version, and not directly about this, but I’ve said all these things in interviews. I have a guilty conscience. I think somehow my job is at least to like the people I’m interviewing. Rumsfeld was charming, forthcoming, he gave me all these memos, he read them on camera, he came to Boston four times. Eleven long days of interviews.

There’s a moment when I read the Schlesinger Report to him, which contradicts what he had just said, and he looks at me like a frog on a lily pad and says, “I’d agree with that.” You’d agree with that? You just said the exact opposite! Now, I could have intervened, but to me there’s this moment where you just sit there, and you the audience, as well as me the interviewer, are left with this strange feeling of dislocation. Did I hear what I just heard? Did he say what I just heard him say? Is he aware that he’s simply contradicting himself? Is he aware of anything?

But in the end... I���m appalled by all of it. I don’t know how better to describe it. I could pretend I’m not appalled, but I am. It just makes me sad to think that this is my government. Is that the best you can come up with, sir? It’s a level of reflection that’s non-reflection. The smile. The smile is really horrific. It’s like a tell in a poker game, where suddenly you realise that your opponent has given you a clue to what kind of hand they’re holding. I don’t know if I can adequately characterise it. Sometimes I call it the cat that swallowed the canary. That look of supreme self-satisfaction. People want their notion of evil to be simple and easy to grasp. They want to see the cloven hoof, like, “What’s in the sleeve, Errol?”, and out pops the hoof and people gasp. Shakespeare knew this well. They want Lady Macbeth, they want Iago, they want Richard III. They want to see some undeniable evidence of the monstrous, the “Oh my God!” But here the monstrous is not the kind that you would like to see. It’s not the cloven hoof, it’s a smile. It’s his desire to simply deny the world around him, to prattle on, to enjoy the performance. Is he a performer? Yes. But in calling him a performer, you somehow think of an actor aware that he’s playing a role. He’s not playing a role, though. It’s not a performance by a person, the person is a performance. There’s nothing else there.

To me you could go either way. Is it a total failure as a filmmaker, a failure to do justice to the error that he has made, the clear contradiction he’s just expressed? Or is it one of my finer moments, a way in to the reality of Donald Rumsfeld? Think of it not as a political documentary, but a fable of a man who gets lost inside of himself and lost inside of his own bullshit. In the end what’s revealed about Donald Rumsfeld is that he’s basically the equivalent of a Chinese fortune cookie. I think the best moments come in weird places, like the part when he wins a semantic argument and says, “Chalk that one up.” To me, that’s filmmaking. It’s telling you so much. “Chalk that one up,” is him saying, “I got the better of you, buddy.” That’s how he sees it. But it’s not about getting the better of me. It’s about a very bad chapter in my country’s history. If you feel as I do that torture should not be part of the repertoire of a democracy, then this is a black stain. This was a horrible, horrible moment in American history. This is not a handball game, or table tennis. Often I’d feel that there was no moral dimension. So what do you do? Do you say, “Sir, where’s the moral dimension here?” How would he respond? “Ooh, you got me, there is none”? Or, do you let him prattle on and say, “Chalk this one up”? It’s all there. The movie is chock-a-block with revealing moments, contradictions, nonsense talk. It’s maybe the best I can do, and if people don’t like it... fuck ‘em. The Unknown Known is out on DVD on 14th July.

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gifts for strippers words edie lamort, photos eylül aslan

it’s not just teachers who are given more chocolate than they can eat

I don’t find that the word “objectification” fits my job as a stripper, and one reason is the gifts we receive. Sometimes you find yourself taken by surprise by the things the regular customers say and what they buy you. For example, if you learn some new pole tricks, or maybe change a tried and tested routine on the stage, someone in the audience is bound to point this out. “Oh, you did the spin before going upside down this time.” “Eh! You noticed that?” “You were a bit unsure about that new move, weren’t you? But your shoulder mount is improving.’’ I receive rather odd or thoughtful gifts from punters. Some are baffling, and others have proved to be great. I sat with a regular customer one day and said, “Why do I get these odd gifts?” His reply was, “Because we can see who you are.” Here are some of the odd gifts I and others have been given over the years.

very spiritual water I have mainly worked in East End strip pubs where there are a lot of Asian men who come in on their own. I had an Indian customer who I would see fairly regularly. He was always very polite and earnest. He would have a chat, a few private dances and then go. He told me a lot about the various spiritual pilgrimages he would do. He recommended drinking “very spiritual water” from the source of the Ganges, pure H2O goodness from the Himalayan snowmelt, and the thawing of the Gangotri Glacier. After Christmas one year he went back to India for a few months to visit family and soak up that famous spiritual atmosphere so I didn’t see him for a while. When he returned, he walked into the dark cavernous pub with a couple of shopping bags looking pendulous and heavy and set them down by me. He pulled out a bag of “very spiritual water.” It was a sealed plastic bag full of water, ornately decorated in reds, golds, oranges and yellows. I was surprised and flattered that he’d made the effort to carry these heavy bags of water halfway across the world in order to assist my spiritual well-being. I took the water home and drank it as recommended. No, I didn’t get ill. Maybe my spirit was cleansed, who knows?

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jewellery “I was in the jewellery shop and bought my wife a pair of earrings, so I thought I’d better buy you a pair too,” said a regular who then handed me a small neat box, wrapped with a silver ribbon. I smiled and thanked him, pulling the bow open and taking out the long amber earrings. Why did he think he needed to buy me a gift as well as his wife? It’s not like we were ever going to cross paths. Was he overcome with a moment of guilt for the stripper he liked to visit? I was puzzled by this sense of obligation; it’s not as if I were his mistress. They’re nice earrings. I get complimented on them.

chocolate I can’t imagine we look undernourished—we are dancers not models, and our job is a workout—but some men feel the compulsion to feed us. At a Soho strip club I worked in, we were frequently visited by “the chocolate men.” There were two of them who would eagerly arrive with supermarket bags full of chocolate and sit themselves down on Gynaecology Row (the front row, in stripper argot). They were always eager and wide-eyed despite years of seeing the same things again and again. They looked like they lived on Pot Noodles and rollies, so I always assumed they’d been shoplifting on their way to the club. I couldn’t imagine them buying all that chocolate. They didn’t tip in actual money, but they eagerly handed out boxes of chocolate. They would stay for the first hour or two of the evening, until there came a point when the charity of the strippers and the management would wear off and they would have to go. The strippers would point out that, “We want to be rich, not fat,” and the manager would need them to buy more than a single beer. So off they’d scuttle, probably on their way to rob Tesco.

poetry When you work in a strip pub you get used to all kinds of eccentrics. It’s probably one of the few places they can just sit and have beer, have a pretty girl say hi and be left in peace. One odd character is someone we call “red wine and poetry man.” I have no idea what his real name is—no one does—but he buys whole bottles of red wine, sits at the bar with an A4 pad and writes poetry. As the night progresses he gets more and more drunk, the poetry gets worse and worse and he ends up crying. It’s strange, but he does it again and again. Of course he’ll give his verses to the dancers as tokens of affection. In the changing room one night a Brazilian girl showed me what he had written for her. I read it through with disappointment. It was an Oasis song and he was hoping she wouldn’t realise, as English was not her first language. We both laughed and said, “Oh well.” To say all customers look at us merely as sex objects doesn’t fit the humanity of the situation, or the thoughtfulness of the gifts we receive. People are often wrapped up in their loneliness, and looking for any kind of connection. And if someone does look at me and simply think, “Phwoarrr, nice tits,” rather than, “Goodness, I wonder what she thinks about theatre?”—well, who gives a shit? I don’t have time to contemplate everyone’s inner workings either, and I do have nice tits.

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the last flight of hayao miyazaki


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as studio ghibli’s founder retires for the final time, jason ward examines the director’s oeuvre through his lesser-known printed works words jason ward

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A pig is strolling along a beach in Tynemouth, thinking about the dead. Still weary after his lengthy flight from Japan, he decides to rest on a nearby bench for a moment. It’s here that he’s accosted by the ghost of the late author Robert Westall, who has taken the guise of a terrier. The pair discuss literature, aeroplanes and World War II, and before they go their separate ways they head to a nearby pub for a drink; they’re in Newcastle, after all. The visitor’s name is Hayao Miyazaki, and when he not assuming porcine form he’s considered Japan’s greatest living filmmaker, beloved for cofounding Studio Ghibli as well as writing and directing many of its finest pictures, from My Neighbor Totoro to Spirited Away. For most, turning into a pig would be noteworthy, but Miyazaki has made a career out of extraordinary acts of transmogrification: in Ponyo, the eponymous goldfish starts to become human after eating an errant piece of ham, while the fighter pilot protagonist of Porco Rosso is changed into The Crimson Pig by a curse, and the boar god Okkoto-Nushi in Princess Mononoke becomes a demon after a corrupting gunshot wound. Miyazaki’s encounter with Westall takes place in his short manga, A Trip to Tynemouth. It is one of many such efforts in which the animator appears in his printed comics—known as manga, as opposed to the animated medium, anime—as a moustachioed swine with bottlecap spectacles, reflecting upon the influences and obsessions that have shaped his work. Like an ageing prizefighter, Miyazaki has had a tendency to erroneously retire from his chosen profession. Indefatigably hard working—he has typically drawn or redrawn by hand thousands of frames on each of his films—his assorted retirements have usually been greeted with a reasonable degree of scepticism. Recently, however, he announced that the forthcoming historical epic, The Wind Rises, would be his last film. At the age of 73 it’s probably wise to finally take him at his word. As his cinematic career draws to a close, then, it is worth contemplating, as Miyazaki himself often has through manga, not just his body of work, but how he became the filmmaker that created it. With Studio Ghibli’s output widely admired and the tree-growing narcoleptic Totoro a burgeoning global icon, it can be easy to forget

that the company’s cultural eminence is a relatively new development: not only did Miyazaki not form Studio Ghibli until 22 years into his professional life, but several years passed subsequently before any of the studio’s films were actually seen in the west, outside of the illicit, battered videotapes that circulated among communities of anime enthusiasts. Even today, when Studio Ghibli’s films are dubbed by Hollywood actors and aggressively distributed internationally by Disney, being a western admirer of Miyazaki means that one is still exposed only to a small segment of his work: his superlative Studio Ghibli films represent merely the part of the iceberg that we’re able to see. What’s missing from our understanding is the underberg, comprising Miyazaki’s mangas and early television serials that have largely evaded English-language release. Momentarily putting aside their own merits as ragged, vibrant works of art in themselves, it is possible to trace the beginnings of ideas, motifs and characters that found fuller expression in his films. A panel in a 1969 manga anticipates an identical image that occurs a decade later in his theatrical debut, while a story Miyazaki struggled with in 1980 about a boy turned giant mountain lion was reconfigured into the very different historical fantasy Princess Mononoke seventeen years later. It shouldn’t be expected that mangas like Air Meal (a comic rumination on the history of in-flight food) or For My Sister (a graphic poem about a boy taking his terminally-ill twin sister on a flight around the world) will provide a Rosetta Stone to fully understanding Miyazaki any more than his cinematic efforts do. Like any complicated, prolific artist, his artistic identity is multi-faceted; a fact illustrated by the Japanese critical reaction to The Wind Rises. An embellished biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, chief engineer of the notorious A6M “Zero” fighters in World War II, Miyazaki was criticised by both the country’s left and right for his nuanced and contradictory portrayal of his protagonist as a brilliant, sensitive man whose exceptional talents nevertheless contributed to widespread destruction. Miyazaki’s non-film work rebuffs reductive suppositions. Instead, it shows how despite his enduring interest in supernatural elements, Japanese folk tales and British children’s literature, everything he creates


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An original storyboard from the 1988 film, My Neighbor Totoro. Images thanks to Henry Sotheran’s.

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is deeply personal, regardless of scale or content. Daydream Data Notes, for instance, is a collection of illustrated essays on pre-WWII military vehicles contributed to the hobby magazine, Model Graphix. Miyazaki had grown up during World War II, when his father’s manufacturing company was producing rudders for Japanese fighter planes. The essays demonstrate how his childhood obsession with sketching such vehicles developed into the persistent reoccurrence of similar aircraft throughout his films. A thoughtful pacifist, his early passion for aircraft was counteracted by witnessing their devastating potential during the firebombing of Utsunomiya. From this perspective, the tension in his films between wonder and horror at what technology can do becomes more comprehensible. The unique and specific combination of Miyazaki’s creative obsessions and personal history conspire to render his progressive values— feminism, environmentalism, pacifism—in ways that are visually exciting, original and moving. Miyazaki’s storytelling instincts, honed by the thousands upon thousands of images he has personally drawn in his lifetime, have always tended towards depicting complex ideas through vivid imagery—hence his early discovery that supernatural metamorphosis was an elegant way to portray on the outside what’s happening on the inside. While his narrative reliance on forms of transmutation can be partially attributed to its place within Japanese literary tradition, the process exists as a useful visual metaphor for man’s ruinous treatment of the environment, a theme he has been exploring for decades. For all of the marauding demons, wood spirits and dust creatures that find their way into Miyazaki’s films, the key to their lasting appeal is the humanism imbued in them by their creator. Where most of America’s animated feature films, for example, are created in industrial parks in Southern California, Miyazaki has maintained a genuine connection with nature, spending much of his time in a remote mountain cabin. His emphasis on the importance of the natural world stands in stark contrast even to Pixar at their peak—a company whose films, perhaps by virtue of their use of computer animation as much as their environment, can’t help but be relentlessly modern, even as they reject the lazy pop culture references of their peers. While Studio Ghibli have

also incorporated the use of computer animation into their filmmaking, their work is still mostly produced using traditional cel animation. Even if the paint is digital, their features are still largely drawn by artists, one image at a time. This increasingly anachronistic approach finds an affinity with the films themselves, which allow for moments of stillness and beauty largely absent from comparable animated films emerging from other studios. Studio Ghibli’s reputation has been built almost entirely on the creative brilliance of two men: Miyazaki and Isao Takahata—the studio’s other co-founder and director of Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko and Only Yesterday. While the studio has released appealing films from other directors, increasingly so as Miyazaki and Takahata have slowed their work-rate, their imminent departure can’t fail to have an effect on its fortunes. Based on the principles instilled by Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli will doubtlessly endure, and continue to produce excellent work. Even so, the unavoidable fact remains that a significant era in the history of animation is ending. In searching for an appropriate way to consider Miyazaki’s departure, it is perhaps best to look to the man himself. As a developing artist, he made a conscious decision to eschew the influence of seminal manga artist Osamu Tezuka in favour of developing his own style. Writing in his memoir Starting Point, he recalls, “When I was finally forced to admit that my drawings actually did look like Tezuka’s, I took out the sketches I had stored in the drawer of our dresser and burned them all. I burned them and resolved to start over from scratch.” Miyazaki would inevitably be the first to argue that his retirement should herald the arrival of something new, rather than inspiring pale imitations of his own work. His career breakthrough came when he and Isao Takahata co-directed fourteen episodes of a popular television series about the master thief and scoundrel Lupin III. But after achieving enormous success with Lupin III on film and television, Miyazaki decided to leave him behind to pursue fresh ground. In his memoir, he bids farewell to the character, whose time had come: “I often think of Lupin fondly, for he was hungry in those days; he was a bit lecherous, fastidious, scattered, and headstrong, and he was crazy about mini-car races.”


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Scenes from Miyazaki’s short manga, A Trip to Tynemouth.

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p o r tra i t s of a f r i e n d photos puzzleman leung

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Puzzleman Leung has been photographing X Lee, the subject of this series, for some time. He says, “X Lee is the most interesting guy I have ever known: sometimes he is crazy to do anything, while at other times he is sentimental to write a poem. He lives in the kingdom of freedom. I take a look at myself and think that I live in such a boring hell when I see his freedom.�

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one person’s pain can be someone else’s promise words linnea enstrom, portrait toby coulson

rapper angel haze will write her own ending

“The thing about the truth is that you can’t pick and choose when to tell it. If you tell only a half-truth, it’s still a fucking lie. I like to tell all the truths.” This is Angel Haze: poet, rapper, drifter.

Now she climbs a stanza in seconds, shaping rhythms with the shifting intensity of her voice. “I guess practice doesn’t make perfect, but it makes permanent.”

The 22-year-old musician first rose to fame in 2012, an arresting and gritty new voice. On her debut EP, New York, she spits out words at incredible speed against a backdrop of discordant drums and droning electronica. Then she suddenly risked it all by leaking her album, Dirty Gold, after the label pushed back the release date too many times. “Whenever I feel like my dreams are being threatened, I resort to guerrilla tactics,” she says.

After moving to New York from Detroit, she patched together a few mixtapes that she published online. The debut EP that followed evokes the sharp skyline and anonymous crowds of her adopted city. Listening, you can smell the river and heavy fumes as she runs faster and faster against a menacing beat. “Feeling the city as a whole changed me,” she says. “Taking the subway, feeling cramped in with lots of people. You have to deal with the roughness of the city, and you in turn have to become a bit rough in order to handle it. My sensitivity levels depreciated. It made me brave and it made me bold. It gave me courage to do the things that I wanted to do and I love it there.”

I have lived with our conversation for some time now, going over Angel’s words in my head and searching for a starting point. I found myself both consumed and bewildered by her raw and spontaneous, yet carefully considered, interview. Angel, whose childhood was in many ways violated and circumscribed by other people’s beliefs, is a powerful master of her own narrative. I realised at last that the text was already there, consciously arranged by her in the conversation before me. “I wrote my first poem when I was eleven and I had my first poem published when I was thirteen,” she says as we begin. “Poetry is one of those things that have always been really cathartic for me. It encompasses everything that I am. I have multiple journals that I carry around. Whenever I feel the urge to I can write down what I’m feeling, so I always know where I am in my head and my heart and everything around me. Before music, it was just books.” I say that her lyrics remind me of Sylvia Plath’s poetry. She smiles, “I love her. Dude, like fucking life. I’m mostly influenced by writers. Sylvia Plath, Charles Bukowski, John Green and Kurt Vonnegut all make the best books in my life.” Her family’s cult-like brand of religion meant that she was prohibited from listening to secular music until the age of sixteen. Angel began writing songs without any support or guidance when a friend at school told her she should turn her poems into rap. She describes working on those early mixtapes as stringing together songs that she could barely finish. “I had no clue what I was doing. I was fucked at it, I shit you not,” she exclaims. “Then I started practicing.” On websites and forums she studied multiples, similes and what it means to construct a rap verse.

Did New York ever scare her? “It’s a lot bigger than me, you know? I didn’t at times feel like I belonged. I can be disgustingly kind to people and they’re staring at me like, ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?’ It freaked me out a lot. I didn’t think that I could become. I thought I would digress, if anything, and become something I didn’t want to be.” “I had some very defining moments, where I experienced homelessness and met a friend of mine who let me crash at her crib for a while. It was crazy, having to deal with those obstacles along the way, having only fifty dollars in your bank account and being like, ‘I’m going to make this shit happen regardless of what happens.’” Angel’s biography is an integral part of her art, and there is a cathartic function to her music. She describes the Apostolic church she was brought up to worship in as a cult. Her childhood was fraught with psychological and sexual abuse, a trauma she portrays in hauntingly explicit detail on the sample track Cleaning Out My Closet. Whatever numbed her, a non-existent childhood or persevering against the odds in an antagonistic city, she came through it all with an incredible aversion to convention. If forced to define her sexuality at all, she describes herself as pansexual. “When I was a kid I was told that loving the opposite sex was the right thing, but I always thought I should never deny myself the simple

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pleasures in life. If I meet someone I’m attracted to and we can have a genuine conversation, and I find you entrancing and I can’t stop looking at you, then why can’t I date you?” she says. “The more my parents tried to restrict it, the more outrageous I became. I guess there isn’t a rebel without a fucking reason.”

into an inner person? She cuts me short. “I don’t know who she is. The memories I have of my mum from an early age are being bummed around places and staying with her friends. I saw her friends more than I saw her at times. If she was someone different I would never know about it. I wish I could see another part of her, but I don’t think it exists.”

“I was totally queer when I was thirteen. I didn’t know what was happening and went through all these phases. I liked boys and I liked girls. I was attracted to a transgender person who wanted to be a she. All these things were happening to me and I was, in my head, fucked about it. But I can’t control what I’m attracted to. Who am I to suspect that what I feel is not real? I would never recommend that anyone go about extricating a feeling from their body. I had to numb myself to everything and I’m still numb. I cared so much about what my mum and my friends said that it led me to be suicidal. I cared so much about sexuality that I started starving myself. I did all these crazy things, it was just stupid.”

The songs on Dirty Gold form an intimate portrayal of a person who digs deep into the most protected parts of the self and lays bare something both marked and beautiful. What is it like exposing your soul to the world? “It has been frightening, but only when I think about writing the things I’m not ready to admit to myself,” Angel says. “With Cleaning Out My Closet and other songs, it was so liberating for me. I literally threw myself onto it, dripping pain and crashing all over the track and then I let it go.”

In the song Black Synagogue, Angel tries to come to terms with her perception of religion and examines why people, herself included, at times seek faith or God. “I don’t feel any particular way about religion, but I don’t think you should follow anything blindly. I’m an agnostic Buddhist. I meditate daily, I try to stay positive and help as many people as I can. I know it’s fucking boring, because I’m a rapper and I’m supposed to be aggressive and all that shit...” She frowns. But surely she is not supposed to be anything? “Except for who I am, and I can’t bring myself to be anything different.”

“I had no idea that one person’s pain could become someone else’s promise, someone else’s realisation that they’re not the only ones in the world going through it. It’s scary and it’s liberating and it’s rewarding at the same time,” she says, then adds, “I don’t feel any of that shit anymore.” With a joke or final twist like this, Angel repeatedly undercuts the rawness of her own honesty. You are never wholly allowed into her world. There is always a sentence prepared to push you back out. It’s strange to meet someone so painfully transparent, who simultaneously wears skin as thick as the soles of her shoes. She speaks quickly and intensely, like it’s all there already, carved into the air between us.

On Black Dahlia, another track of Dirty Gold, she raps about rewriting her mother’s life before she was absorbed into fanatical religion: “Maybe I would write you a happy ending, I would rearrange the pieces to your sad beginning.” I address the fact that her mother left the church, but Angel insists that that meant nothing. “It’s still invested in her. Every facet of who she is is about religion and still to this day it hasn’t left her. It ruined her as a person. I don’t know if she remembers who she used to be before. It’s scary.”

Angel obscures the line between art and experience in many ways, and at times it disappears altogether. She writes her own story, planning life as if she’ll die at the age of thirty: the next seven years to make music, one year to live in the woods. As she puts it in A Tribe Called Red: “Everything you need to know about me is in the music: my home, it’s where I originate, it’s where I fall apart, it’s where I come to life.” Music is the beat beneath her ribs and the sound in her voice. Even her speech flows like verse. After our meeting, I read in Clash magazine that she constructs entire conversations ahead of interviews. It makes sense.

Can Angel see through it somehow, like peering through a thick fog

Angel Haze’s debut album, Dirty Gold, is out now.


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My nan, Flo, was a marvellous woman but she wasn’t the most beautiful in the world. To be honest, she was a little fat lady with big thick glasses. I feel so awful now, but I was only a little girl and I used to say to my friends, “That’s not my mum, you know, that’s my nan. My mum is a film star, she’s in Hollywood.” I made up stories like that because I didn’t have a mum. Flo was the only woman truly there for me. Pat Reid, page 60


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manuela, sitting, by crist贸bal marambio


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you beautiful, impossibl e heroes


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Who are the people that make us say, ‘You! Are my hero!’ Superheroes. Emoticons. Tabloid heroics. Not superheroes; let’s talk about real people. Two of my friends are rowing across the Atlantic. They’re really suffering, which makes a nice change from their usual cockiness. I’m quite enjoying it. Jenny Jones is just a really nice, normal person (p70). Who? Bronze medal in the Olympics for snowboarding? My aunt got evacuated in the war, and her mum walked out and never came back (p60). My grandma is so cynical. I wonder when she lost her heroes? I lived on the same road as Ray Davies from the Kinks for four years, but never spoke to him (p78). Mel C was my hero when I was ten. I always had to be a different Spice Girl though. After that, it was Kurt Cobain (p122). But meeting your heroes can destroy them. I met this gymnast and she was horrible to me. I suppose it could have just been a bad day (p125). Never meet your heroes. This is way too serious. Have we been too harsh on superheroes? They’re a bit too obvious. There’s something in the childhood thing. Can we hack them? What, literally (p72)?


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wartime evacuee, storyteller, hero words kirsty lee, portrait robert chilton

an interview with my aunt, pat reid

It was one of my favourite pastimes when I was young: my auntie Pat would visit, bringing seafood, sweets and an afternoon of storytelling. I would sit and listen intently, my wild imagination spurring solutions for the girl in her tales. As I fixed the red light on the dictaphone to interview Pat Reid a few days ago, I felt relieved that for the first time her stories were being archived. I want to hear something about your personal heroes. They may sound a bit strange. My first one is my nan, who was so good to me when my mother walked out and left me and my dad. I was born in 1935, and in 1939 the war started. I would have been four. Not long before, my mum just vanished one day with another man and left me with my dad and nan. My dad was due to be called up for the war and had to leave me, so my nan took over. Her name was Flo; she was my dad’s mother and she managed me so well, as I was a real handful. In those days women always seemed so old, and she was 49, but always there for me even when I was evacuated. It was hard when children were evacuated. Taken from their parents, they had a label put on them, a gas mask round their neck, a little bag with their clothes. They were put on a train, and nobody knew where they were going until a letter was sent to their parents to tell them where they were.

You were so young. It must have been terrifying, arriving in a place so unfamiliar and full of people you’d never met. I suppose it was because I was so young, but I didn’t realise at the time. I went to Marlow Bottom. In those days it was full of little huts that people had built themselves. They didn’t have running water in the house, just a pump outside. There was no toilet that flushed, just a big saucepan round the side of the shed. It was buried once a week and that’s where you went. There were three of us children who lived there, aged four, five and six. We weren’t fed very well—I still can’t eat porridge to this day, they made it with lumps in. My mother came once, when I was five. She gave me a present. I never saw her again until she was 44, no Christmas card, nothing, but that was that. The old lady I lived with at Marlow Bottom died and my nan was down straight away to pick me up. She took me home with her in London where I stayed until I was eight. The bombing was really awful by then. We had an outdoor shelter and every night she used to wake me up, “Quick, Pat, let’s get down in the shelter! The bombs are dropping.” It got so bad she had to have me evacuated again. Did you form an attachment to the woman who took care of you when you were evacuated? Or was it always clear that she wasn’t one of your parents? I called the lady Mrs Davis. I never knew her first


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name. The second time it was in Wales and it was hard because I just couldn’t speak Welsh. I must have been there a year before the war finished and I still only ever learnt two words. One was ‘good night’ and the other was ‘bread and butter’. After a year, the war was over and I was sent back home again, still with nobody to look after me, so I went back to my nana’s. Every Saturday night, my nan and I would go over to her brother’s house. Someone would play the piano and they’d sing all the old songs around the piano. It was such a happy time. When I think back on my childhood, it wasn’t a very happy childhood, but that part of it—when I was with her—was a really happy time in my life. Did you look up to her when you were growing up? No, I never wanted to be like my nan. When I was a kid, I had this imagination. My nan, she was a marvellous woman but she wasn’t the most beautiful in the world. To be honest, she was a little fat lady with big thick glasses. I feel so awful now, but I was only a little girl and I used to say to my friends, “That’s not my mum, you know, that’s my nan. My mum is a film star. That’s why I’m not living with her, because she’s in Hollywood.” I made up stories like that because I didn’t have a mum. Flo was the only woman truly there for me. If she hadn’t been there, what would have happened to you? I could have gone into a home, adoption, or foster care. There were many women who wanted to play the mother role. My father was in Italy in the army, and he was going out with this Italian girl called Graziella. She used to write to me during the war. She’d tell me that when she came home she’d be my mother. When the war finished he couldn’t get her over here, so I never did see her. In the end he married a lady named Gladys. They had children quickly and things changed a lot. I rebelled

terribly. They’d go dancing around the Sydenham Social Club every Saturday night. I was always left to look after the children, even their friends’ children. I was only eleven or twelve myself. When my nan found out she went absolutely mad, so that soon stopped. She was a very strong woman, but she was never strict on me. She’d often say I’d eaten too much of what the cat licked its arse with, but that’s because I had a lot to say for myself. Often, when I think of heroes, I think of risk-takers or celebrities. A lot of my friends have heroes who we may never meet, the people we see on TV. Did you have celebrities you aspired to be when you were younger? Oh yes, Rita Hayworth. She was a glamorous film star. I really wanted to be like her. She had red hair, and it was long. I always wanted long hair and I was always so dark. I always wanted to be called Rita, but I was just plain Pat. We once had to move for a few months, and there was a woman next door, a really horrible old woman. She said, “Hello, I’m Rita.” That changed my mind in the end! It’s interesting how as you got older, your heroes changed, and mine have changed already. As a gymnast, I was always inspired by Olga Korbut, then it changed again in my early teens and more so now. It seems both our heroes have become more sentimental: the people who care, the people who won’t let you down. Your nan seems like such a role model. I never really knew it until she wasn’t around any more. As she got older and I had children, she would come over. Every Friday she’d visit me in Crystal Palace from Catford. She’d always get me some sausages, tomatoes, a nice crusty loaf and sweets for the kids. She used to do that every Friday. She said she’d do it till her legs go. Now I see my grandchildren most weeks. Sometimes I’ll take a bag of shopping, or put on a spread, so I suppose in a way I have turned into her, just without her glasses.


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Above: Nan Flo and another relative. Left: Pat Reid holding one of her children.

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the collector words kirsty lee

teeth of the dog, teeth of the sheep, and a well-preserved set of dentures

Teeth make an elusive collection. It’s rare that the local junk shop has a box of jawbones or dentures to rifle through. But as I laid out and labelled each item, the explanation for why I began hoarding them was even harder to find. My collection started in 2012, and now I have molars, incisors, canines, maxillaries and mandibles all on the list, but my fascination with teeth goes back a lot further. I’ve always admired their organic structure, built to withstand the bags of penny sweets I ate as a child, shaped like fortresses and coated in an armoured enamel. With the exposure of a white crown, they make the jaw a regal parade. The irony is that a fear of the dentist predates my collection. The smells, the sounds, the awkward position as you’re arranged on the couch, legs above heart, the taste of latex gloves as they make their invasion, the anaesthetic as it withers its way through every nerve and muscle, the piercing sound of the drill as it penetrates through the tooth. The experience is terrifying, and this must hold some significance as to why I have the urge to gain ownership of as many teeth as possible.

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dentures Three of my boyfriend’s friend’s teeth were knocked out as the result of a skateboard accident, and the gap was filled with these three pearly whites attached to a gum shield. It took very little persuasion before these became a treasured possession in my collection. I never thought that all those years of singing, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth,” would come to fruition.

badger tooth When I worked on an organic farm, I got talking to the farmer’s eight-year-old son, Linden, who also collected bones and teeth. On leaving, he offered me the badger skull and teeth as a gift. He’d spent many hours trying to pull the teeth from the skull for me, and his hard work was in my hands. I was touched.

wisdom teeth My friend sat in the dentist’s chair, fluorescent pink mouthwash ready. The drills, the pliers and the anaesthetic were also ready. With a few yanks, the third molars were extracted, and I became the owner of these two wisdom teeth.

dentures While on the Orkney Islands I came across a pair of dentures washed up on the shore. They were very hard and seemed old. I imagined where they’d been and why they had ended their journey on one of the most northern points of the British Isles.


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sheep’s tooth With time I have come to learn the difference in the tooth shapes of herbivores and carnivores. Judging by the shape of this tooth, I think it may have belonged to a sheep or goat. This tooth has a beautiful root and is a fascinating structure; I found it while working on a farm in Devon.

saxon tooth

cow’s tooth

dog’s teeth

A cow must have fallen and drowned in a lake on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent. Years later, the lake silted and the cow’s bones were exposed. The teeth were left loose, and I now own a memorable piece of the poor beast.

I found the dog’s skull on a long bike ride in the heart of Kentish woodland. It lay exposed under a tree, where it must have been dug up by a foraging animal. The teeth were loose, and I took home a few for my collection.

This ancient Saxon tooth was found by a builder friend of mine weeks before an archaeological dig took place. It’s believed that the tooth is hundreds of years old, and I often wonder about the life its owner led.

llama tooth On a broken-down coach journey in the Peruvian desert, this llama tooth was found among what appeared to be a sea of scattered bones.

coyote tooth While en route to Santa Cruz, I found this coyote tooth lying bleached in the sun off a track somewhere on Highway 101.

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the sharp edge of a unicorn horn words jason ward, portrait toby coulson

nadia kamil makes fanciful comedy with a fervent message

She called it the Whimsy Horn. If, at any point during Nadia Kamil’s debut stand-up show Wide Open Beavers! the proceedings were in danger of getting too political, the horn would go off and a jingle would announce that it was “whimsy time.” To redress the tonal balance, Nadia would then pretend to be a sexually adventurous unicorn, called Unicorn, from “the Meadow of Sparkles.” The joke, of course, was that Unicorn’s material was just as dialectical as everything else in the show, but she had put a shiny cone on her head, fashioned

from an old gift bag. “You don’t undermine the seriousness of the stuff you’re discussing by being silly about it,” Nadia says. If she had a business card—comedians tend not to—then this sentiment would probably be printed on it. Nadia’s impassioned embrace of both the political and the whimsical is evident throughout her comedy. Recently, she has been repurposing traditionally problematic art forms, writing and filming a rap song promoting smear tests, as well as performing a feminist burlesque—a sublime routine where she removes items of clothing to reveal statements like, “100% of rapes are caused by the rapist,” and, “Pubes are normal,” while staying fully dressed. The act culminates in the triumphant unveiling of her degree certificate, festooned with nipple tassels. If Nadia’s work is serious and silly, fervent and fanciful, it’s because she’s all of these things herself. “Lots of comedians have a persona when they perform, but I guess mine is really me,” she says. “It’s not even especially exaggerated: it’s just me. It’s almost embarrassing. But I think if your comedy is about what matters to you then people feel more connected to the material.” After years as part of absurdist double-act The Behemoth, as well as acting in sitcoms, writing for radio and working with sketch groups and esoteric comedy collectives, Wide Open Beavers! was Nadia’s first show as a solo performer. With its mix of traditional stand-up, dancing, songs and audience participation, the show reflects her magpie creativity:


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outside of comedy, Nadia is part of a four-person close-singing group, produces bespoke postcard short stories, and makes and sells her own jewellery, socks and other crafts (“I sell everything too cheaply, really, but it’s difficult to be a socialist and a businessperson.”). When we speak, she’s even mid-way through reading a hundred books to co-judge a Welsh literary prize. Wide Open Beavers! was one of the most political shows performed at last year’s Edinburgh Festival, with an emphasis on structural inequality and feminist issues, and yet one of its most personal, too. “It wasn’t a conscious decision to make it about feminism, it was more that I wanted to talk about the things that occupy my mind, and what I deal with a lot of the time is misogyny. My response when I’m faced with adversity is: how can I make something funny about this?” Talking with someone whose interests are as diverse as Nadia’s means that conversation wends around everything from Japanese hosiery to grunting in tennis, but what she returns to again and again is the question of what comedy can do and mean. “Context really matters,” she asserts. “When you go and see a famous, be-suited, rich, middle-class stand-up doing misogynistic jokes and bits about disabled people, the context is that it’s coming from privilege, from a rich, white man mocking those ‘beneath him’ for profit. It would be different if you saw the same material from somebody else, like Jerry Sadowitz. He’s playing an unlikeable character, so his horrible material makes sense in context because there’s nothing aspirational about him.

Nobody goes, ‘Oh, I want to be that guy.’ You’re laughing at his character; he’s not laughing at you.” The side-effect of presenting material that’s personally and ideologically expressive is an internal pressure to get it right. Given her on-stage confidence, it’s surprising to hear Nadia talk about trepidation. “Doing a show by myself for the first time was a really huge deal for me,” she confesses. “I used to have this big block in my head, saying, ‘Why are you doing this job?’” She came to realise that part of the problem was being a female comedian in a world where the idea of women in comedy is repeatedly challenged by hack journalists. “As a woman, I was always questioning my right to be doing comedy. I felt that if I wasn’t brilliant it was going to ruin it for other women, which is a ridiculous thing to put on yourself. It makes things so hard. I had to let go of that and just do what I wanted to do.” Nadia fiercely defends the notion that comedy is more than just a vehicle for jokes. “Comedy can be so intricate and detailed and structured, and an audience that pays attention and listens makes that material exist. I hate the idea of stand-up as a background to a Friday night. You want to be a comedian who engages people, and similarly you want to have an audience who engages with you, who aren’t going to be there yelling, ‘Tell us a dick joke!’ I mean, not that I haven’t got plenty of dick jokes.” Nadia Kamil / www.nadiakamil.co.uk


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carving it out interview hannah bailey, portrait liz seabrook

this spring, jenny jones and her snowboard took britain’s first-ever olympic medal on snow

If you aren’t clued up on the world of snowboarding, you might not have heard the name Jenny Jones until the Winter Olympics this February. The event brought the first-ever snowboard slopestyle competition to the Olympics and made history in the process. Slopestyle competitors display their freestyle skills by attempting the hardest tricks on obstacles dotted down a technically-challenging slope—feats that a television set could hardly do justice to. A 33-year-old Bristol woman took bronze, becoming the first medalist for Britain on snow. That’s Jenny Jones. The other thing you should know is that the odds were stacked against her. Hers is an athletic achievement but, more than that, her journey from standing on a board to standing on the podium is about following an untrodden path. Jenny came to meet us out at the Olympic Village in Stratford one afternoon. Her schedule has been packed with TV appearances, and our first date had been postponed in favour of a trip to Downing Street. It would be an understatement to say that life has changed for the snowboarder. She told us about the journey over a slice of Victoria sponge and peppermint tea. In the early days, we hadn’t seen a lot of people making a living out of snowboarding. What were you thinking? I didn’t care two hoots about that bit. It was all about: I am getting better at snowboarding! It was so exciting to be doing a new sport that you didn’t have to be ten years old to stay really good at like gymnastics. People were taking me off-piste and teaching me about back country, I was learning how to ride jumps and trying to do spins. I liked the competition part of it too. A lot of people can go into a park and land a trick on a nice sunny day. But can you do it in a competition, when the pressure is on? When the weather isn’t very good? I like that challenge. Were your parents always supportive? They said, “Fine, go and do that, if that’s what you enjoy.” That was quite rad, looking back. Really, they were a bit apprehensive, I think. They were thinking, “I want her to go to university, she has this chance to go!” But I wanted to take a year out and try snowboarding. Two years in, I still hadn’t gone. I was working my butt off in short-term jobs: waitressing and being a barmaid and working in factories. They probably bit their lips a few times.

you have nothing to distract you. I’ve had a few breaks over the space of ten years: I’ve broken both bones in my left arm, a few concussions, a broken right foot, a broken left foot, chipped shoulder, tailbone. You were dropped by some major sponsors just a few months after it was announced that slopestyle would join the Olympics. Things didn’t look too rosy. Things in the snowboard world took a bit of a low, and certain sponsors ended up cutting the European team. In a way, losing all the sponsors like that helped. Do I still want to do this now? Maybe it was time to step back? It was then that I made the decision: no, I really would love to try and do this for myself. It was the best thing that could have happened to me! Everyone is ten years younger than me? That’s great. It means I will have their enthusiasm rub off on me. Katie Ormerod is sixteen years old and I’m 33, and we’re shredding together—how cool is that! As you get closer, you start to notice that people haven’t written you off, but they do keep mentioning how much older you are. That’s fine. Go with that if you want! But I was worried that if I didn’t do well, would I regret the whole thing? I had had such a rad career up until then; will I be remembered as not doing that well at the Olympics? There was a high chance I could have not made that final, and I would have had to ride that out big time. Sod it! Worse than that would be looking back and going, “Oh my God, I didn’t try.” Instead, you took the first medal on snow for Britain. That bit only dawned on me a few weeks later. Alain Baxter won a bronze in 2002, though, and that got taken away from him. He was cleared of drug misuse, but he’s not back in officially. Mainly, I’m glad that we got to show slopestyle to everyone and they liked it! They saw loads of girls doing pretty hairy stuff: big jumps, technical tricks. It’s weird because I’ve been snowboarding for ten years and have been doing alright for the last eight. Suddenly I’ve done this one event, which felt similar to the others, and it’s changed so much for me. By coming third in a competition! I have enjoyed the opportunities that have come about, like going into schools. You don’t realise that you actually are inspiring little girls. Then you go to a school and they are so pumped.

The only person I knew doing it professionally was Lesley McKenna and that was in the half pipe at the Olympics. People kept saying, “Why don’t you try the half pipe, you could go to the Olympics?” But it’s not what I love. I love the jumps!

What’s the best thing a child has said to you? “Were you scared?” That’s what a lot of them ask. “How high in the air are you?” You have to explain: as high as three people. Someone messaged me saying it was his daughters’ dress-as-your-superhero day. One of his daughters wanted to dress as the Incredibles and his other daughter wanted to go as Jenny Jones. He sent me a picture and her sister’s got the mask on and she’s got a hat and goggles on.

I only ever thought one or two years ahead. I got to 22 and thought, “If I do another year, I could still go to university at 24 and not feel too old.” I kept convincing myself. Then a year or two before the X Games, I was given a three-year sponsorship contract. That was the longest I have ever looked ahead, those three years.

When I started snowboarding, there wasn’t a support network or a team. It was just me. I might have had to sleep on couches and had the odd mishap or had to spend a bit, but I managed to do it. I managed to muscle through. I didn’t have a coach to teach me tricks. I did that all myself for the first years. You can carve it out and make it happen.

Injury is also a risk, isn’t it? Yes, it’s tough and it takes a long time to recover, sometimes six to eight months. And because sport is your job,

Jenny is sponsored by Salomon, Oakley, Nixon, Pentax and UK Sport Funding, who stuck by her in the run-up to this year’s Olympics.


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frankens tein’s to y box words and deeds sophia pearson, rosanna durham

wh at h appens when yo u c ro s s yo d a wi th a c h a m p a g n e c or k ?


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What is a hero? Courageous, noble, bitten by a radioactive spider? Call us sad or geeky, but for many of our younger selves it was various plastic action figures, with their plastic uniforms and plastic muscles. We used them to break the tyranny of adult sensibilities. You know the sort of thing: “No. No, you may not parachute from your bedroom window using last week’s shopping bags.” Well then, Action Man, it seems it’s up to you again. (Silently and stoically Action Man is stepped off the ledge, attached only to a Tesco carrier for support.) Yes, these were dreams and adventures to hold in your hand and hide in your pocket. These were the doppelgangers who were chucked out of the window, several times, and lived to tell the tale. Resolving to revisit these halcyon adventures, we collected together a small library of action figure throw-aways and fakes sourced from eBay. Then, armed with glue and some hefty garden loppers, we slipped out of the office an hour early on a Friday and embarked on a session of what you might call offline cut-and-pasting to make our own superheroes. In the psychiatrists’ report, this episode may be noted as “the first signs,” but we’re willing to bet you’d enjoy this rather warped activity too.

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how to make your own action figure You will need: old action figures and toys odds and ends, such as corks, wood, plastic lids, string acrylic or modelling paint

plastic glue strong scissors or a saw paper and pen paint brushes

One. Assess the old action figures and toys that you have. Think about how you want to destroy and remodel them. Sketch out some ideas. Two. Cut them up into pieces. Three. Rejiggle, refashion, and cut and glue a new action figure of your own design.

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g. i. joda, guardian of the hungover Conceived at the sound of a popping Champagne cork at a party some sixty years ago, rumoured to have been attended by Yoda and G. I. Jane. Day job: Watching Star Wars on the sofa. Superpower: Whispers wise words of encouragement as you take your first sober step, before whipping you through a detoxing workout. Motto: May The Hair Of The Dog Be With You.


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nequiquam, protector of the unlovable Born on the eighth day, made with leftover bits and a sense of irreverent whim. Day job: Supermarket packaging product tester. Superpower: Thanks to its claw ‘n tooth combo, is excellent at tearing open tricksy plastic-packaged items. Motto: It’s Ripping Time!

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captain friendly, department for spacerelated marketing and spamming Complicated parentage: many fingers in one pie, you might say. Day job: Leafleting in a town centre near you, today! Superpower: Networking with the stars. Giving high, middle and low fives. Motto: With Multiple Hands Come Multiple Firm Handshakes.


seven pieces of fruit and veg a day, eh?

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we’re going to have to mak e some changes o h c o m e l y i s o n e o f y o u r f i v e, s e v e n o r t e n - a - d a y. s u b s c r i b e o n l i n e t o e n s u re a re g u l a r p o r t i o n : o h c o m e l y. c o. u k / s u b s c r i b e


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my neighbour, ray davies words benjamin brill, photo katarina smuraga

when you move down the road from your hero, the only problem is what to say first

Ray Davies walks past my window like a fretting crow or an askance look. It is an afternoon in spring and he is wearing an old overcoat and a worried face. His glasses are tinted and his hair is thinning, but he is still Ray Davies from The Kinks who wrote all those songs in the sixties, and so he is still beautiful. We have been neighbours for some time now. I would like it if we could become friends, but when I walk past him on my way back from the bus stop, we pretend not to have seen each other. Even though we pretend to see little of each other, I feel as though I know him. When there is an interview with him in a magazine, I always make sure to read it. This is how I know what he was thinking about when he wrote Waterloo Sunset. “I reckon we’d probably get along,” I think to myself, sitting on my sofa, reading the article for a second time. Down the street, I imagine Ray Davies is also sitting on his sofa, reading the same article for the second time, although I doubt he is thinking of me. I walk alone through Highgate Village, rehearsing what I would say to him. “I will start by telling him how much I love his recorded output 1965-68,” I think to myself. I imagine that would be his favourite period as well. But then I start to worry. Do I sound too formal? Will he think I’m a bit full on? “Maybe I should just say something really thoughtful to him instead,” I think. “Something about the passing of time, perhaps.” My friends tell me to stop worrying about it so much and try to offer me advice. “Maybe you should just talk to him about the things that you talk to your other neighbours about,” they say. “Like your other neighbours or the weather.” What silly ideas people have! It is like they have not even noticed that he is not a normal neighbour—he is Ray Davies from The Kinks, and I want to talk to him about life, not about my other neighbours or the weather. Since I cannot decide what I should say to him, I have decided I will instead have to come up with different ways of making him realise that we are kindred spirits. They are very subtle. For example, I have decided to start doing my hair in a similar style to the one Pete Quaife is wearing on the cover of Something Else by The Kinks. It does not suit me particularly well, but I think it is a worthwhile sacrifice. In years to come, I imagine us laughing about this as we take afternoon tea in my living room. “I was so lonely until I saw you with your hair all done like Peter,” he will say, as crumbs fall from the custard cream he is eating and into the creases of his smart trousers. “I am so grateful to you for reaching out.” I will play him a song I have written and he will smile, showing me the gap between his front teeth that I have seen in the old photographs that they put in the interviews. “You and me, Ben, we see the world in the same way. And you have made me realise I was wrong to do that song with Mumford and Sons. I let myself down there.” I will look kind and modest and ask him if he has kept the hunting jacket he wore in the early days, and if he minds me borrowing it. Conversation is always easy in daydreams, and your heroes never disappoint. Back in my real life, Ray Davies walks past my window wearing a pair of large white trainers and a tired look on his face. I realise that in all the time we have been neighbours I have never seen the gap between his teeth that shows when he smiles and that I will never ask him what is on his mind.


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on a cold brighton beach words jason ward, portrait toby coulson

noah taylor reflects on disappointment and the mechanics of an acting career

Noah Taylor is fishing in his coat pocket again. He doesn’t say anything, of course—he’s nothing if not unfailingly polite—but it’s clear that he doesn’t want to be here. Finding what he’s looking for, he pulls out his second cigarette and waits quietly for the next question. While the chill Brighton morning may have something to do with it, Noah acknowledges that he doesn’t relish talking about himself. Perched on a bench near his home, reticence enfolds him much like the coat that is buttoned up against the wind. The discomfort Noah is experiencing is similar to the one he struggled with earlier in life. After making his debut as the star of the coming-ofage classic The Year My Voice Broke, he appeared as the lead in over a dozen films. Halfway through his 27-year acting career, however, Noah had become exhausted with his profession. “I felt like I needed a break from it, really,” he explains. “I got into acting when I was so young. It quickly became my job, and I’ve always looked at it in those terms: a job, rather than a driving passion. Maybe that’s my problem.” A talented, engaging actor whose off-beat good looks were simultaneously boyish and weary, Noah’s professional doubts coincided with his growing stature, as his frazzled performance in the Oscarwinning Shine led to roles outside his native Australia. Having always been more enamoured with music and art than acting, Noah wanted the opportunity to enjoy his other interests and made a conscious choice to step away from leading roles. “The idea was to do smaller

character parts. That way you can work and have a relatively normal life.” He takes a drag of his cigarette. “It was probably not a very smart step.” Noah has a tell: whenever he’s disappointed by something, a slight, resigned smile breaks out across his face, more amused than regretful. “I’ve never really figured out the mechanics of career,” he says, looking back. “It actually became harder to get work, in a strange sort of way. What you really should do is a larger role every now and again that gives you a bit of leverage in other things.” His voice sounds like you imagine a shrug might, but he’s being a little hard on himself. Even as he felt the broader effects caused by his decision, Noah was still in demand: flourishing as a character actor, he’s worked with a remarkable list of filmmakers, from Terrence Malick to Wes Anderson. To this day, seeing his name in fourth or fifth position on a movie poster is a watermark of quality. As if to prove the point, his latest effort, The Double, is one of the strongest films of the year. In his second collaboration with Richard Ayoade after the director’s 2010 debut Submarine, Noah plays the only friend of the film’s lead, Jesse Eisenberg, a shy office drone who discovers he has a more popular doppelganger. Even by Noah’s standards, the role is a small one, but his presence never fails to brighten the film. As exceptional as it is, The Double is much like any project where Noah pops up and disappears again: you miss him when he’s not around.


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On the rare occasions in recent years when Noah has been the lead he’s made bold choices, even if some of them didn’t work out. He gives another of his slight, resigned smiles when discussing Max, a problematic film that saw him playing a young, art-obsessed Adolf Hitler. “Hitler’s very difficult,” Noah says. “He doesn’t have a moustache in the film, but it’s very easy to slip into Charlie Chaplin, and the last thing you want is to make it comedic.” Another pause, another drag of his cigarette. “But it seemed like a challenging thing to do at the time. I don’t know if it was the best idea in the world.” Acting remains a job, but these days Noah conducts it on his terms. Studiously avoiding a move to America, despite the lift it could have given his career, he instead made a home in Brighton. As a place to live, Brighton is probably the equivalent of choosing character roles over leading ones: more pleasant, less starry. He says the city reminds him of St. Kilda, the seaside town in the suburbs of Melbourne where he grew up. “I think if you grew up near the ocean it’s in your blood to want to be near the sea.” Ageing has been good for him: his face, which has become leaner and more grizzled, can convey despondency or malice. Where many of his early roles were the earnest protagonists of memoirs, he now plays more varied characters. “I’m actually enjoying acting a lot more than I did when I was young. The roles are more interesting,” he says. “I tend to

play more villains. My plan is to mix villainous and comedy roles. That’s a happy, sane balance. Somehow they come from the same sort of place: you can be quite over the top with both.” Noah is at his most effusive talking about the filmmakers he works with repeatedly, directors like Richard Ayoade and John Hillcoat with whom he’s built a strong partnership. “It’s much more fun to work with the same people. You know where their heads are at. In an ideal world I’d work with three or four people that I like.” Noah says he is willing to do anything for an interesting filmmaker. This approach is epitomised by his presence on a freezing cold bench in the dead of winter, ostensibly to talk about The Double: despite his minor role in the film, he’s enduring something he doesn’t really enjoy in order to do right by a director he believes in. Striving for his happy balance, Noah now has a recurring part in Game of Thrones as Locke, a deliciously cruel man-hunter who’s overly handy with a machete. “It’s a behemoth, that thing,” he says. “Every set-up would probably be the biggest scene in a modestly-budgeted movie.” Noah enjoys the character of Locke, but compares the production’s rigours to that of playing a competitive sport. “Working on it is fun, but physically exhausting: being beaten up by Irish farmers at four in the morning, in the mud, in the rain. And this goes on for fifteen hours. Acting wears you down a bit.” The Double is out now.


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the day my eating disorder was louder than opera words emily gaudette, illustration owen gent

it was the albuquerque state fair, and my sister was the lead soprano

The summer my sister sang with a girl from the local pueblo, I had been starving myself. I was counting out almonds on my palm when Pauline’s name was announced over the crackling loudspeaker. We were seated in a hot tent at the Albuquerque state fair, our places reserved with pieces of notebook paper that said, “family of lead soprano,” in magic marker. As the lead soprano in the eleventh grade, my sister had the honour of choosing the penultimate piece for the touring company. Previously she had graced us with a shortened O Mio Babbino Caro and Ach, Ich Fühl’s. That summer she had chosen a duet, though my mother had screamed and wriggled under the suggestion she share the stage with another student. Pauline stepped forward from a line of girls in homemade dresses. I sucked the light salting off my ninth almond, watching the stage lights kiss Pauline’s gleaming shoulders. Nine almonds—that was four more than I allowed myself in a morning. I had already finished my OJ and water-sluiced combo, and wouldn’t be having sugar for another 24 hours. My sister flipped her white-gold hair over one shoulder, preparing for her annual crushing of the community’s hopes for their own children. In the dry silence that followed, she turned toward the rest of the choir, tilting her head toward a heavy-set girl in brown. The girl’s rough braid didn’t bounce as she walked forward. The girl stood with my blonde sister in front of a crowd of white people who had recently voted to decrease state funding to the pueblo cultural center. The announcer coughed her name through the sound system, and the crowd began to whisper. Even my mother stirred, and I hated her for it. My thighs were sticking to the folding chair under me. I thought they wouldn’t do that if they were slimmer, barely bone and muscle. The sound of metal and bone clicking together, I told myself, would be clean and beautiful. “She’s shaking,” my mother whispered. She meant the girl on stage, but I was quaking from somewhere deep in my colon. I heaved my body weight against my mother to support myself, who assumed I was being affectionate. The stage was fringed in a grey wiry mist that I would have reached for, if my arms were strong enough. From somewhere far away, my sister began singing. My sister was joined by my sister somehow; their voices were inseparable. Had I been in my right mind, I might have recognised Lakmé de Delibes as it began. Instead, I saw ripples in water we didn’t have in New Mexico, cool and green pools of sound, and my sister and her sister dipped their limbs in, their fingers touching and gently pulling away. What happened after that first note exists in liminal space. I was in between consciousness and sleep, my body functioning on vapour and sound. My sister’s shimmering voice glided upward, twined and bolstered with what timbre was coming in ribbons from the dark-haired girl’s mouth. I swelled up, a dome of white jasmine and two enflamed kidneys, leaving behind a trail of my almonds like diamonds or high notes, so we three could find our way back. Something osculated softly against my brain, asking me to follow it. I obeyed. My mother says I seized forward into the dirt, my eyes rolling back into my skull. I remember this too: I watched my spine straighten and my limbs lock against my torso as I spun somewhere above the tent, the dense canopy of blue in our desert town. Espressivo. Potassium. If I spoke Italian, I would have cried to hear my sister and her partner sing of laughing in the morning. The song must have stopped when my mother started screaming, but in my memory those voices continue over the shining waves like birds. They dip below the surface and rise toward the sun, one dove and one morning-dove, transcendent and free from their bodies as I had tried to free myself from mine.


Enchantment means to want something and also to know, somewhere inside yourself, not an obvious place, that you aren’t going to get it. Rachel Kushner, page 104


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hair and make up verity cumming; assistance kate o’brien. yellow knit cardigan, gudrun & gudrun.

valeriia karaman, by beinta ĂĄ torkilsheyggi


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I can see clearl y photos and styling liz seabrook

tamara vos wears glasses by cutler and gross, and top by maison scotch


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danny quanstrom wears glasses by booth & bruce and t-shirt by vans


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louise lai wears glasses by rock optika and top by monki


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anna baker wears glasses by mykita and camisole by lf markey


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tom armstrong wears glasses by rock optika and top by american apparel


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sara wilson wears glasses by res/rei and top by samsøe and samsøe


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now this chapter in our lives is shut words annie atkins photo vanessa chan

once my ex-boyfriend and I were building a life in this apartment; now we’re cleaning it together

Cleaning your apartment is boring; cleaning your apartment that you don’t live in anymore is awful; cleaning an apartment with your ex-boyfriend that you were once building a life in together is just excruciating. But we’ve left the place empty for two months now, and the landlords want it back: there’s a new couple moving in soon. I hope they’re miserable here, I think, as I vacuum under the bare beds. I hope they break up! I hope they both get hurt! “Do you want these?” he asks me, holding up a packet of condoms he finds in a drawer. I don’t even answer, just glare at him. No, I don’t want the horrible condoms that were handed out at the festival we went to last summer. What am I going to do with them? Make mint-flavoured balloon animals? “What about this?” he asks. “Do you want this fridge magnet that I bought you that time we skipped through Copenhagen thinking we were truly in love with each other?” He doesn’t say that, in fairness; he just holds it up and I glare at him again. “No, I don’t want that,” I sigh. “What am I going to do with that kind of crap? Take it all the way to Hollywood with me?” I say that word—Hollywood—just like that, in italics, as if to show him, I am going places! Without you! But it just sounds stupid and he quietly drops the fridge magnet in the bin. “I thought you might at least like this,” he says, and when I turn around I see he’s holding up our old jar of coins from the bookshelf. “I thought you might want to give it to a homeless person,” he says. “You were always going on about doing that one day.” I take the jar off him and turn it around. I can see fifty cent pieces and whole euro coins. There must be at least fifty quid in there! It’s true, I’m always talking about one day dumping a load of cash into the hands of a homeless guy, and then watching the happy smile on his face as he picks up his blankets and hurries off to buy some crack. “Well, thanks,” I say, melting a little despite myself. “Do you want this?” I ask him, holding up an old toenail clipping that I find under the bed. He backs away and laughs, and then I laugh, and then we have a very long hug, and I cry for a while, and he holds me very tight. “I wasn’t expecting to be sad today,” I tell him, spilling tears all over his shoulder. It’s been some time at this point, and we’d done so well moving on. And as the evening sun shines in through the windows of our old home I remember how there was a time when we were pretty happy here together, nesting, but that it never really felt right somehow. We had fallen for each other in a heady mess of restaurants and sex and exotic locations, but when it came down to it, sharing a kitchen and a bathroom and a living room, we’d had little to really say to each other. We were 26 years old and we’d been playing at being grown-ups, and now it was time to let go. So I untangle myself from the hug, and I pick up an old comb that I got for him in the supermarket once, and I sing into it, to the tune of the song that’s always on the radio: “Look at this comb, I bought this comb for yoooou, and all the things you doooo...” and we laugh again. He says, “You know what? Let’s forget this cleaning stuff and go for a beer.” And I look around the apartment and all of a sudden I am filled with something that feels suspiciously like love, and I hope that the next couple who live here are happy together, happier than us. So I say, “Yes, let’s do that. Let’s go for a final beer together, now that this chapter in our lives is shut.”


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polaroid vox pop portraits lisa marie grigsby assistant charlotte hempenstall

we asked the people of oxford how to cure a broken heart

Trenton, born in Hobart, Tasmania. Cure for a broken heart: reggae music and beer.


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Agnieszka, born in Poland. Cure for a broken heart: staying positive and thinking about the future.

Nadish, born in Bermuda. Cure for a broken heart: space and time ... or space-time.

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James, born in Pembury. Cure for a broken heart: time and a rebound.


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Anne, born in Swindon. Cure for a broken heart: tea and bed.

Kinga, born in Poland. Cure for a broken heart: a chat with a good friend.

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watch the day pass

photos india hobson styling helen mcguckin hair and make up laura gingell model francesca chantell | industry people thanks ellen mcleod, lulu watson


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sweatshirt: we are cow / ripped levi’s: beyond retro


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shorts: cos / t-shirt: beyond retro / sweatshirt: nike


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denim jacket: we are cow


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cable knit dress: & other stories


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bearing witness to enchantment words maggie crow, portrait ann summa

rachel kushner writes words that I can’t get out of my head

“Enchantment means to want something and also to know, somewhere inside yourself, not an obvious place, that you aren’t going to get it.” A line I’d read in The Paris Review had hit a nerve and was lodged in my mind, appearing and disappearing at unexpected points throughout my day for several weeks after I’d read it. I highlighted it in my copy of the magazine, I rewrote it in my notebook, I scribbled it on the chalkboard in my kitchen, I posted it online. At the time I was on the downswing of an infatuation gone wrong. I’d met someone, a stranger, and fallen for him too quickly to realise that it was all too good to be true. In the aftermath of it all, I found myself drawn back to this quotation again and again. A few months later I was listening to a KCRW Bookworm podcast where the host, Michael Silverblatt, was discussing a novel called The Flamethrowers. Silverblatt is a literary critic with a trembling voice that makes his enthusiasm palpable. In this episode Silverblatt seemed particularly captivated by the book, comparing it to Don Quixote, saying that the ending “took his breath away.” I listened until the author started to read an excerpt. I felt a shiver of recognition. What was her name? Rachel Kushner? I pictured my hand copying out the quotation, finishing with “from Blanks, by Rachel Kushner.” Blanks, aka chapter four of The Flamethrowers. I bought the book that day. As a novel, The Flamethrowers is vast and kaleidoscopic: images, voices and cultural references are merged seamlessly to create a layered and

vivid world. The passivity of the protagonist, nicknamed Reno, is one of the distinctive features of the book. The story unfolds through the eyes of this quietly-observant young woman, as she becomes witness to the political and cultural crises of her time, from the conservative and macho contemporary art world of seventies New York, to the anarchist street riots of Rome. Like Silverblatt, I was left breathless. The writing was so precise, the voices were exquisitely tuned, the characters and settings mesmerising. It was so good. I kept underlining passages: “The woman senses that time is more purely hers if she squanders it and keeps it empty, holds it, feels it pass by, and resists filling it with anything that might put some too-useful dent in its open, airy emptiness.” Who was this writer? How did she see everything so clearly? The morning I spoke with Kushner was sunny and bright. I was in San Diego for a neuroscience conference, but had taken part of the morning off to make the call. I was nervous, so I had over-prepared. My questions were unnecessarily complicated and vague to the point of uselessness. Somewhere along the line I had forgotten that an interview, in essence, is a conversation. Unconsciously, I had been hoping for a lecture. From the outset, Kushner was professional, distancing herself from her novel when I asked about details in the book that seemed to stem from her own life. She could only identify with Reno in “more oblique, deeper


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Rachel Kushner with her Ford Galaxy 500 vintage car in Los Angeles, California.

ways,” she told me. “I couldn’t testify to you in a phone call about the book that I identify with her, because it’s personal and I try to keep my personal life very separate from the writing of fiction.” Her use of the word ‘testify’ jarred me. Did she feel like I was putting her on trial? This was going so wrong. I tried to veer back to safer terrain, to talk about characterisation and hearing voices and the ways we come to know people. She seemed more at ease from this remove. Kushner told me that most of the energy that she puts into writing is used “to form something unique.” For The Flamethrowers it took almost two years for Kushner to find a way in to the story that she wanted to tell. She aimed to find a register or a tone that would be self-perpetuating, she explained. This tone was the voice of the principal narrator, Reno. When I mentioned that Reno’s watchfulness and inaction intrigued me, Kushner seemed defensive. “I didn’t think that she would be regarded as unusual,” she said. For Kushner, Reno served a specific purpose: to convey the story as a set of impressions. She elaborated, “I wanted it to be something transparently like thought.” By refracting the story through the lens of Reno’s youth and inexperience, we learn more about Reno than we might have if she had been more active. Instead, we directly observe the behaviour of those around her, and see how this is interpreted and misinterpreted by her. This is the subtlety that underlies the sometimes brash and brutal personalities that Kushner presents in the novel. In a few different

interviews, Kushner mentioned that she doesn’t agree with the use of psychological causality to construct character, for example someone becoming a murderer due to childhood trauma. “I don’t recognise it as a valid way to explain people,” she told me. “I don’t know whether people are knowable by what they say about themselves. They can only be experienced as people.” I asked if that meant that we can only know people by their actions. “I don’t know if I could reduce it to that,” she said. “People throw up all kinds of complex obfuscation to being known and they think they’re guiding you in the way they want you to know them. They think they’re broadcasting or telegraphing a certain kind of personhood. But what they want to project is part of the information that you incorporate to learn something about them.” What had I learned about Kushner? From her work I knew that she was a talented artist, with a keen eye and a political conscience. From speaking with her I found that this came with a need for privacy and an editorial vision of the way she was projected in the public sphere. (After one short tangent, she had quickly corrected herself: “Maybe don’t mention that. That doesn’t cohere.”) But I would not gain access to the inner workings of the mind that produced the work that I had responded to so eagerly. Again, unwittingly, I had fallen victim to enchantment. The Flamethrowers and Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner are both published by Vintage in paperback.


Asking to be in love was asking too much. You lay the groundwork first: a marriage, a mortgage, some kids and then hopefully one day you’d wake up, and that feeling that you’d read about in books, saw in movies and heard in songs would finally be delivered to your address, with a sheepish note from the post office apologising for its late arrival. Ashica Stephen, page 108


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untitled, by eugene gusarov


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my mother’s metamorphosis words ashica stephen, illustrations martha anne

it’s no use going back to yesterday, I was a different person then

Two days is a short time to know someone before you decide to marry them. Especially if those two days are sectored even further, sliced down and peppered by introductions to parents, food and travel, so that in the end, when you stand back and look at the actual amount of time that my mum and dad spent alone together before their wedding day, it dwindles down to less than seven hours. But this is 1986, and this is India, a country where the sun shines hot and the people blow cold. Here, marriages are arranged, and things like preference, compatibility and love don’t dictate the decision process. Instead, unions are churned out in a systematic yet practical way, and husbands are selected like choosing a sari from a store; chosen according to brand, the imagined response you expect to get from others, and whether or not you believe it to be durable. My mum is 22. She stands tall on her wedding day, with flowers in her hair, henna on her hands and hope in her eyes. She’s beautiful, sunlight dancing off the sequins and colours of her sari, with delicate features and high cheekbones that, much to the dismay of my sisters and I, we never inherited. She glimmers under the weight of the gold that has been piled onto her; the bangles on her wrists, the chains around her head and neck and the heavy earrings that belonged to her mother. Looking at photographs, I can’t help but think that such decorations seem futile: wasted attempts to display status and value in a society where women are worth so little. After years of education, my mother had successfully completed everything expected of her. The only thing now was to sit and wait for the suitors to come flooding in, to measure her value by her dowry, her cooking, her reputation and her family’s status. It angers me to think that these were her selling point, and not the things that should matter, the things that make my sisters and me love her. Such as her gift for seeing the beauty in everything, whether it is antique furniture or broken people—a talent that later becomes responsible for her career change, when she spends the rest of her days transforming derelict buildings into inhabitable homes. My dad is 28. Up until this point, he has lived in Zambia. He was raised in a city of chaos, an Indian boy in an African area. There was a terrible car crash eight years earlier that killed his father and created fault lines in his world. For both of them, it was always there: the realisation that their paths had been picked for them prematurely and without their approval, authorisation, or consent. I assume they must have known deep down that this was not the person they wanted and this was not the life they wanted, yet still they yielded to a cookie cutter mould, a mould that had been welded into shape by years of custom and a sense of obligation. They allowed their ambitions to be squashed into place like a bound foot. Because people are like puzzle pieces and, despite what should have happened in an ideal world, my mother and my father would never have tessellated. Turn them any way you will, file down the corners and force it as much as possible; the pairing is unworkable.

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Five months later, my dad flies back to India for their wedding day. Any dreams my mother had are squeezed tightly into her Samsonite suitcase and packed off to London, where she goes to follow my dad, who is chasing English dreams. They choose High Barnet, a place at the end of the Northern Line. It's close enough to journey into the capital, but far away enough so as to still taste fresh air. Roots are established: they join a church, strike up conversations with the neighbours, pick out a local Catholic school for the inevitable children they know are soon to follow, and allow the rest of their lives to be spun out in front of them like silk. My sister Jessica arrives first, fat-faced and chubby, followed by me, and then finally my little sister. We, the three legs of a tripod, are used to help stabilise and validate my parents’ marriage. Growing up, it almost felt to us like our parents had surrendered their old life and their old ways in exchange for a British passport and a semi-detached house with three bedrooms and a back garden. All their customs and rich, colourful culture got tightly compacted into boxes for storage, replaced entirely by the western lifestyle that shrouded them like a cloak and protected them from the harsh weather. Small things remained; little wisps of Indian culture escape from their confines and seep triumphantly into my memory. My mum’s desire to be barefoot at all times, the black bracelets she insisted we all wore when we were born as protection against the Evil Eye, the Buddha figurines that line our mantelpiece and the Feng Shui guides that clutter our bookshelves, all evidence of her previous life. There’s also her refusal to use any chopping utensil when cooking other than her grandmother’s enormous meat cleaver, a rusty old blade that we are forbidden from holding and is used for everything. Most significant is the comfortable way in which she slips back into her native tongue during late night calls to her sister, which take place once we feign sleep; through this, a world of spices, burnt taste buds, noisy traffic, elephants and paddy fields dance across our dreams. These allusions to India and her homeland bleed into my life like stains from a tea bag and disclose a different time, a time before a loveless marriage weighed down her heart, and three demanding babies pulled at her hands and hair. Memories like these are treasured and threaded together like beads on a rosary. They are the souvenirs of her past, the baggage she carried across the ocean. They cling to her like a turmeric stain on her fingers and refuse to be scrubbed clean. Asking to be in love was asking too much. You lay the groundwork first: a marriage, a mortgage, some kids (God willing) and then hopefully one day you’d wake up, and that feeling that you’d read about in books, saw in movies and heard in songs would finally be delivered to your address, with a sheepish note from the post office apologising for its late arrival. Until then, the suitcase of dreams was tidied away to the attic to collect dust, along with the rest of my mum’s memorabilia: her colourful clothes, saris and jewels that belonged to another, gentler climate.

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the alpine baker words sophie wright, photos siegrid cain

roswitha huber and her school on the mountain

Roswitha Huber knows what it takes to make a perfect loaf. The ‘bread maverick’, as she is known, is based high above the hills in a quiet and dreamy paradise of snow-capped mountains and thick forests. She lives and teaches the nuanced art of breadmaking in Rauris, a small mountain village in Austria. Despite her isolation, Roswitha’s reputation stretches across the world. From the bustling metropolis of New York where a documentary about her was shown at the NYC Food Film Festival, to the reels of anecdotes from devoted former students, her legacy is like that of a modern day sage. When photographer Siegrid Cain sent us some photos of Roswitha at work, we knew we had to track her down and learn from her pearls of wisdom. It was quite a journey to reach her up there in the hills, but we were even rewarded with a recipe. Where did your passion for bread-making come from? Bread-making is a handcraft, an art and a sensual experience. I started baking twenty years ago. I asked a lot of questions and met people all over the world who also baked bread, and suddenly a whole new cosmos was opened up behind a simple loaf. Even though a lot of bread gets thrown out nowadays, it is still an esculent that is looked upon with more love by most humans than, for example, a piece of meat. Bread can go hard and it will still taste good. You’re situated “am Ende einer Sackgasse” (at a dead end). How does this affect your attitude to cooking and the process that you use? Yes, I live at the back of beyond! On foot, it takes me about an hour to get to a very small grocery store where they only sell essentials. That means that I have to cope with absolute staple foods. For bread: no problem. I only need flour, water and salt. If I fancy a special meal, I have to go on a small voyage. With flour, water and salt you can already do a lot, and if you then maybe have some eggs, butter and milk at hand it turns into a little feast. To cook something tasty with simple ingredients is a challenge. To cook something tasty with ten fancy ingredients is something almost anyone can do. Can you tell us a bit more about the history and philosophy behind your school, Kalchkendlalm? Until 1956, it was a farm that was inhabited all year round. Then my father-in-law bought it, and it was only lived in and farmed over the summer. Twenty years ago, I founded the Schule am Borg (school on the mountain). I invite school classes and

adults to come and learn to bake bread in my wood-fired oven. All my students walk home at the end of the day proudly carrying a self-made loaf of bread. Tradition cannot be conserved through photographing, filming or writing about it; you have to do it, always and again. Then it will be kept alive. If baking in a wood-fired oven is no longer a tradition, the tradition will be lost entirely. Nobody will remember how such an oven is fired, or how you can bake really good bread with nothing but water, flour and salt. How should your bread be eaten? Spread with good, organic butter and topped with fresh herbs like chives, parsley, wild garlic, fresh radish and a sprinkle of salt. The world’s best buttered bread!

a simple bread recipe Roswitha says, “My favourite bread recipe is made from rye flour, water and salt. It is very hard to bake for a beginner, so I’d recommend this one instead. If you like, you can add sunflower seeds, flaxseed, pumpkin seed, or spices like cumin, coriander, aniseed and fennel.” This bakes a large loaf. You will need: 1kg wheat or spelt wholemeal flour 600ml lukewarm water 1 packet fresh or dried yeast 10g salt One. Put all the ingredients in a big bowl, and mix with a wooden spoon. Two. Knead the mixture with your hands on a work surface for 10 minutes. Three. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let it rest until it has doubled in size. Four. Preheat your oven to 250°C, or the hottest setting. Five. Knead the dough once more, and let it rest for another 10 minutes. Place on a hot baking tray, and bake for 20 minutes at 250°C, then lower the temperature to 150°C and bake for another 40 minutes. Take out of the oven and try to let it cool before cutting into the loaf. Roswitha Huber / www.schule-am-berg.at

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gee fizz! words and photos tamara vos

bath bombs are easier than scrambled eggs and much more glittery

Bath bombs turn taking a bath into a grand event: the foaming and fizzing, the moment you hold the last bit and watch it frazzle into nothing on your palm, and the colourful aftermath where you recover from the excitement by soaking for so long that the tub turns blue. It had never crossed my mind to make bath bombs myself; they’re so fizzy and colourful that I imagined the ingredients to include something so chemical it didn’t bear thinking about. Research proved me happily wrong: bath bombs can be made from simple ingredients, and are as easy to knock up as scrambled eggs. The joy of DIY is that you can go wild with colours and fragrances here: the more glitter, the merrier. You could also add rosewater or milk instead of plain water, or add a little sea salt, honey or oatmeal to your mix, all of which are meant to do wonders for your skin. Gather the extras that excite you and don’t hold back. The basic recipe is two parts bicarbonate of soda to one part cream of tartar, so the cups can be any size you want. When you add the water to bind it together, a spray bottle works much better than pouring it in, as it prevents the mixture from prematurely over-fizzing. For moulds, you can use anything that would make a clean shape. I used rubber cupcake moulds, but tin ones are fine too. You will need: 2 cups bicarbonate of soda 1 cup cream of tartar food colouring a spray bottle

a cupcake tray, or other moulds essential oils, such as lavender or rose extras, like glitter, sequins, or dried flowers

One. Mix together the bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar in a large bowl. Two. If you’d like bath bombs of different colours, separate the powder into separate bowls to add your food colouring. A few drops of colouring is enough—don’t add too much or it might dye your skin. Here’s where you can also pop in any extras or essential oils. Three. Get your water bottle and spritz the mixture liberally, stirring as you go. The food colouring will start to spread through and colour the mixture. You’ll need to use a little intuition here: the mixture needs to be crumbly and moist but not too wet, and it should hold its shape when you press it with a spoon. Don’t add too much water, or the fizz will go out of your bomb. Four. Sprinkle a little glitter into your mould and press the mixture in tightly. Make sure each fills out the space or your bath bombs will come out uneven. Five. Leave in a warm, dry place, such as by a radiator, for two hours or until the bombs turn rock solid and dry to the touch. Six. Place a tray over the moulds, and carefully flip it upside down. Your bath bombs should fall out easily. Run yourself a bath and have a glorious soak in your glittery new creation.


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the gardens issue is out in july we went in search of kent’s once-vast orchards

We’ll be rooting in the green gentleness of gardens for the next issue and we’re bearing good news of fruit. Wandering in the orchards of Kent, we found this rosy little species buried deep among 3,500 other fruit trees in the National Fruit Collection on Brogdale Farm. Photo above by Anthony Gerace.


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home from home places to go, people to see

brighton festival

eclectic eccentricity

brightonfestival.org

eclecticeccentricity.co.uk

What’s your story? England’s biggest mixed-arts festival with theatre, circus, music, dance and film taking place in venues across Brighton and Hove. What’s your motto? An innovative and ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere. Recommend us something special. Sound in Motion: Swiss artist Zimoun responds to a sparse gallery inside creating tension between order and chaos.

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.

mona mara

duke of uke

monamara.com

dukeofuke.co.uk

What’s the story? Dreamy, beautifully crafted, British-made jewellery. What’s your motto? Evocative, thought-provoking and accessible quality that lends itself to your character but doesn’t define it. Recommend us something special. Our Rihanna-worn interpretation of London’s skyline. Oh Comely readers get a special 20% off online with the checkout code OHCOMELY20.

What’s for sale? A range of ukuleles, priced from £20 to £1000, and an array of instruments and accessories. This summer Oh Comely readers get 10% off ukuleles and lessons! What’s your motto? As London’s one and only uke shop, we host regular events and offer friendly guidance. Recommend us something special. Learn to play in a group! We’ll teach your favourite songs and welcome beginners and the experienced.


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I gradually papered over the poster of kurt cobain words linnea enstrom, photo kris hatch

how my musical heroes shaped my becoming

Pop music died when I was thirteen. I was wasting time in front of MTV when Smells Like Teen Spirit suddenly came crashing into the room, and shot me down. I watched as anarchist cheerleaders lost themselves in a riot crowd. I saw a band that didn’t care. That first sense of apathy was intensely liberating. I was entering a phase when popular opinion dictates your every move. I could feel it creeping up on me as friends began to regroup and others’ eyes clung to my skin in the school corridor. That’s when Nirvana’s slow guitars and exploding choruses began to pick at the very centre of my mind, and I was drawn to my first troubled man, Kurt Cobain. He cared so


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much about things that he almost didn’t care at all. I nailed a huge poster of his sullen face to my bedroom wall, turned off the lights, and held my breath as he screamed that final painful chorus of Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night. It’s still one of the best covers I know. While I mourned Kurt’s death almost a decade after his suicide and tried to distinguish myself from his fan club of smelly boys, a new scene formed around a Swedish band called Broder Daniel. Teenagers, also known as Pandas, glued stars to their cheeks and back-combed their hair until they looked electrocuted. My friend Susanna used to hang out with the band backstage, while I only balanced on the periphery of the scene and went to their gigs almost on command, caught up in an atmosphere so thick that you could feel it stick to the walls of your lungs. Drunk on 3.5 percent beers and smuggled vodka, we tracked down illegal clubs tucked away in smoky basements and danced until our legs were covered in mud. Broder Daniel captured the sentiments of a whole generation of bored adolescents who drifted around town, waiting for something to happen. The singer, Henrik Berggren, was dark and depressed and, like most of us, longed to escape the grit and small town mentality of Gothenburg. His lyrics cut straight to the point: “Got to go to work, then hurry home / Every day is just the same” and “Cruel town, it’s a cruel town / Cold people, cruel town.” Girls cried en masse when Henrik marched like a soldier to the hollow beat of Shoreline. At the odd nostalgia-tinged indie night, you can ask for the song and watch how my generation of fashionable individualists become drunk and confused dreamers whose souls are still attached to the beer-smelling corners of amateur bars. It’s where we swapped heroes, songs and numbers and found new ways of being, for the moment completely consumed with the small universe we had made our own. By the time I started college, I had systematically covered my Kurt Cobain poster with a collage of images cropped from my dad’s old TV guides, leaving only a small square bare. I never talked about Nirvana in my newfound indie circles and was secretly ashamed of my once unbreakable ties with Kurt Cobain, but I couldn’t bring myself to rip his face off the wall. Nobody knew he was still there, peering out at me with his left eye like a pirate. For a while I was lost, traversing a wasteland of miserable Bright Eyes albums and trying to apply Conor Oberst’s broken-hearted lyrics to my own sheltered experiences. I remember listening to Lua on my way to class, staring into a golden sunrise and feeling shit for no reason. One night close to my college graduation, I pulled out Patti Smith’s Easter from my dad’s record collection. The spoken track Babelogue amazed me. The memory is anchored in her poetry and deep American voice that now represents so many moments, thoughts and decisions that her music has formed a world of its own in my mind. Patti was different. She had nothing to do with insecurities, anger or washed-out self pity. She is my last summer in Gothenburg, bright nights and messy floors. She is my friend Anna’s flaming red hair, a warm field in Sussex and a packed crowd of people. When we finally saw her on stage, tall, smiling and spitting with passion, we cried just like the Pandas used to do, squashed against the fence and mad with music. We didn’t have stars beneath our eyes, but we wished that she would see us, and only us, in the vast sea of people.


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first encounters when readers met their heroes

lorna severn met laura jane grace After an emotional and life-affirming acoustic performance, we all queued in the cold for our chance to shake Laura's hand and get our ticket stubs signed. In the queue, we shared previous stories of awkward encounters with other artists and musicians (“I always look terrified in my photos,” “When I met Brian Fallon I literally lost my ability to talk.”). Finally our time came, and we went up to the desk. Laura was warm, welcoming and smiled as we said hello. I gave her a hug and told her that she’s my heroine. We left the shop grinning and then lost all dignity outside as we bounced around the pavement as if we were still sixteen. What an amazing woman.

ben met mark linkous Four years ago today, Mark Linkous from Sparklehorse committed suicide. I thought I’d share the time I met him: some time in 2003 I went to see Sparklehorse play at the Colchester Arts Centre. I had my homemade Sparklehorse t-shirt on, and my friends and I were hanging out in a church grounds taking in the sunshine before the gig. My friend turned to me and said, “Hey, there’s Mark.” Sure enough, he was taking a gentle stroll around the church yard after finishing his sound check. I wandered over and said hello and he was a true gent. He signed all my CD covers and chatted for a while in the sunshine. Sometimes meeting your hero can be a let down, but Mark was a really nice chap. His music has influenced me as an artist more than anyone and I feel honoured to have met a lifelong hero of mine who is sadly no longer with us. Here is a pic of Mark and I, a truly treasured possession.

roisin callaghan met seth lakeman I was sixteen and obsessed, he was 32. My life with him, my future husband, would be one of music and song, folk stories and walks across the Devonshire moors followed by evenings by the fire. I was also obsessed with Jane Austen so the age gap didn't bother me at all. I queued to meet him at the Cambridge Folk Festival when the opportunity arose. He was a lot shorter than I’d imagined, and we didn't play folk music until the early morning, but his cheek touched mine. He’s married now, and I’m glad to say I’m no longer obsessed, I just appreciate his music a lot.


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kirsty lee met a champion gymnast A week prior to meeting my hero, I’d concluded she really was superhuman. I’d watch her somersault through the air as if suspended by invisible strings; she’d sweep the gold and then miraculously disappear without any trace of existence. So when I heard her voice approaching the changing rooms you could imagine the burst of excitement that exploded inside me. What would I say? Would she agree that she was inconceivably under marked on her dismount on beam? Might she even recognise me? I struggled to hoist my leotard up and casually exit the toilet cubical. I’d timed it just perfectly, and as I was washing my hands I turned to her. “I think your performance was great. You’ve inspired me a lot during this competition; it was great to compete with you.” She stared at me blankly. Maybe she hadn't heard? I could see the steam rising from the water I was washing my hands with. Unexpectedly a smirk cut through the steam. “Oh, thanks. I didn’t even recognise you. You’ll have to work a lot harder if you really want a competition.” I was dumfounded and suddenly aware of the rising temperature of the water. Before I could respond she was gone, leaving behind a trail of laughter that chiselled into my very core. That was it, the words of a hero I was responsible for creating.


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cuppa supper words kirsty lee illustrations maria ines gul

can a microwave serve up dinner in a cup?

My impatience and inability to follow instructions have always plagued my baking, many a time leaving me with heaps of mess or a flaccid sponge. That's to say nothing of the tedious life of my microwave; beans, porridge or the remains of a cold forgotten dinner are its repertoire. So when I stumbled across a recipe for cake-in-a-mug-in-amicrowave, it seemed like a perfect fit. No mess, no fuss and a moment to shine for my microwave. Within minutes, my dishes would be zapped by radiation, and dinner would be done. I composed a three-course menu of dishes in cups, with a double emphasis on dessert: quiche, macaroni cheese, cookies and, saving the best till last, chocolate cake.

quiche, the heart of every buffet spread

cookie in a cup

If you like creamy scrambled eggs, this could be for you. It looks great and could be served as a small fancy dish for friends. But don't call it a quiche: you’d be setting it up for something it sort of isn’t.

I had high hopes for the cookie. On the first attempt, I cooked it for just over two minutes. It looked a little slimy, but tasted like cookie. However, after leaving it to stand, it turned quite hard. The second attempt looked smashing after about 50 seconds cooking, and after leaving it to stand for a few minutes I dived in to what had only minutes before been a mug of raw ingredients.

You will need: 1 egg 1.5 tbsp milk ½ a slice of bread, in tiny pieces 2 tsp cream cheese

½ slice of ham, cubed fresh chives, chopped Dijon mustard salt and pepper

One. Whisk the egg and milk together with a fork, and add salt and pepper to taste. Two. Add the cream cheese, ham, half of the chives and the pieces of bread. Let them sit on top, don't whisk them in.

You will need: 1 tbsp unsalted butter 1 tbsp granulated sugar 1 tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed ½ tsp vanilla extract

a pinch of salt 1 egg yolk 3 tbsp flour 1-2 tbsp chocolate chips

One. Microwave the butter for 30 seconds, or until melted.

Three. Microwave the mixture for 1:40 minutes.

Two. Add the sugars, vanilla and pinch of salt and mix. Add the egg yolk and mix again. Mix in the flour and fold in the choc chips.

Four. Leave it to cool, and garnish with mustard and the rest of the chives.

Three. Microwave for 40-50 seconds.

the mug o’ mac and cheese

nutella chocolate mess

I’ve never made macaroni cheese the normal way, but I’ve eaten it from a tin. This microwave version was just as tasty, but better eaten before the cheese curdles. For those who want to clean their microwave at the same time as making dinner, this dish is for you; when cooking the pasta the water overflowed, leaving my mug in a puddle and my microwave clean.

This never quite made it to a cakey consistency, but landed confusingly between cake-texture and squidginess. My microwave, freshly clean from my mug o’ mac endeavours, went for a spin taking the majority of the mix along for the ride. The self-raising flour being the culprit and me the sorry victim, I’d recommend a large cup to avoid such a mess.

You will need:

You will need:

1/3 cup of macaroni ½ cup of water

¼ cup of milk ½ cup of shredded cheese

One. Add the pasta and water into a cup and microwave for 2 minutes, then stir. Repeat until the water has completely absorbed, which should take about 4 minutes. Two. Remove the cup from the microwave and add the milk and cheese. Mix well and microwave for another minute. Give it a final stir, and you're done.

4 tbsp sugar 3 tbsp cocoa powder 4 tbsp self-raising flour 3 tbsp milk

3 tbsp groundnut oil 1 egg 3 tbsp chocolate spread

One. Add all ingredients to a mug. Two. Mix well and whisk with a fork until smooth. Three. Microwave for 1:30 minutes.


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illustration by andrea tsurumi


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Oh Comely magazine issue 20, may/jun 14