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issue six jun / jul 2011 ÂŁ4


oh comely keep your curiosity sacred editors liz bennett, des tan

deputy editor rosanna durham fashion agatha a nitecka illustration dani lurie craft beth davis production michael bennett editorial frances ambler, laura callaghan, amie mills, jason ward words emily chappell, jane flett, kate leaver, ellie phillips, hannah jane riley, nicola robey, alex thornber pictures francesca jane allen, evgenia barinova, steph baxter, emma carlisle, hector durham, india hobson, max knight, kong yun lee, ryan macdonald, trent mcminn, kevin morosky, clare owen, sergio renis, tori steffen, katie turner advertising steph pomphrey, steph@ohcomely.co.uk. feedback and lost property, info@ohcomely.co.uk. submissions, words@ohcomely.co.uk or pictures@ohcomely.co.uk. oh comely, issue six, jun/jul 2011. 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 Buxton Press, www.buxtonpress.com. Cover portrait, Stacy Martin, by Agatha A Nitecka. Photo opposite, Théo Gosselin. www.ohcomely.co.uk Contents © 2011 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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contents i t ’s n i c e t o s e e y o u h e r e

art

fashion

16 the men who built magnitogorsk illustrating unknown builders of soviet cities

28 you’re never too old to paint tarantino rose wylie is britain’s oldest emerging artist

20 the unicorn among the lions marques toliver busked his way from the streets to a record deal

32 oh, the places I’d go illustrated postcards from countries I’ve never been

22 we’ll all float on okay it’s smooth sailing on alessi’s ark

38 this mountain goat is a home possum john darnielle talks books and staying in

26 life is a bike the cold, the waiting, the crashes: being a cycle courier can get addictive

40 aids, drains and dirty truths meet the world’s most potty-mouthed epidemiologist

44 loneliness is a putrid seafood broth it’s a lonely life being 25, single and korean

62 snip snip sergio renis styles for top designers but he learnt the art of hair in the barbershops of southern italy

46 stacy in plaits coiled hair makes forms as brief as flowers 56 self-portrait in fashion five models take control of the camera 66 horseshoe versus rabbit’s foot who’s afraid to break a mirror?

people

72 on a celebrity panel show, no one can hear you scream joe cornish escaped a fate worse than aliens 74 fake blood is thicker than water making stage blood with my mum 78 I am the king of buttered toast it’s tough being the best in the world 84 every dog needs a walk photographing dog walkers in the parks of the world 104 it’s a real sweet story the old-fashioned sweet shop with a plan

and

106 do-it-yourself pic ‘n’ mix make your own deliciously sticky selection

64 something curious how well do you know the rubber at the end of your pencil? 94 love like poison a bittersweet film debut about catholicism and awakening teenage sex 96 how to wear an orange suit and get away with it andrew logan makes fish and chip mosaics 98 what do you want to be when you grow up? the people of bath told us about their dream jobs 100 my cardboard lens make a camera out of a matchbox 120 how much fun can you have for a pound? a fistful of coins and the ultimate adventure in thriftiness

110 follow your feet learning the art of getting lost

124 pretty lovely some crafty things that made us smile

114 sole survivor we made our own shoes out of sheepskin and lived to tell the tale

128 your life, punctuated put a full stop to your uncertainty with this quiz


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between you and me the future is pretty sweet Did you ever try to make sweets as a child? When you’re ten, making sweets tends to start with daydreams of rows of gleaming boiled sweets and succulent toffees and, if you’re like us, end with ruined saucepans and burnt sugar. “Never again,” we remember thinking. “Sweets are just too hard.” But things are different now. This issue, we looked our failures in the face and made our peace with ragged seams, blurry images and the whiff of burning sugar. It was time to embrace things being a little less perfect but a lot more enjoyable. We made a pinhole camera from a matchbox. We sewed some shoes out of sheepskin and wool. We had another go at cooking our own sweets. The odds of it all ending in fuzzy images and bad stitching were high and, yes, some of the results left something to be desired. But we loved each and every one of them. And the moccasins are lovely and cosy, at least.


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special deliveries letters that made us smile

Dear oh comely, I’ve only once picked up one of your issues in the past but this Saturday I felt compelled to buy another one after seeing it on the news stands and having enjoyed the first one so much. Happily browsing through I came across the article about how you sent 35 notebooks out into the country and hoped they would return back to you. At first I was jealous that I hadn’t thought of the idea myself and wanted to steal it. But on pointing it out to my house mates they found it very familiar. It turns out that they and their friends were in fact the people who filled in the note books that you printed in your magazine. They are the bunch from Ilkley and it got passed around among them. Just thought I would let you know, shows that the world is such a small place. It kind of made my sunday. Katie Simkins


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OfficiAl SElEcTiOn Un cERTAin REgARd cAnnES 2010 OfficiAl SElEcTiOn TOROnTO inTERnATiOnAl film fESTivAl 2010

OfficiAl SElEcTiOn lOndOn inTERnATiOnAl film fESTivAl 2010

WinnER, OfficiAl cOmpETiTiOn pRizE SydnEy inTERnATiOnAl film fESTivAl 2010

M onia C hokri • n iels s Chneider • X avier d olan

HEARTBEATS a film by Xavier Dolan

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Contains strong language and moderate sex

“An achingly stylish paean to unrequited lust.” EMPIRE

“Sumptuously photographed... Seductive.” TOTAL FILM

R E L E A S I N G

www.networkreleasing.com

in CineMas naTionWide 27 MaY


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overheard on the sofa the soundtrack to making this issue

I Don’t Want Love

The Antlers

Death Cloud

Cloud Control

River

Akron/Family

Alibi

The Mountain Goats

Rip It up

Orange Juice

A New England

Billy Bragg

Colours

Grouplove

The Good Times Are Killing Me

Modest Mouse

Afterburner

Panda Bear

Me and My Friend

Julie Doiron

Kind of Man

Alessi’s Ark

Hanging from a Hit

Okkervil River

Charter Magic

Marques Toliver

Riding for the Feeling

Bill Callahan

Lorelai

Fleet Foxes

Milkshake

Yuck

On the Bus Mall

The Decemberists

Pull the House Down

Stricken City

Backyards

Broken Social Scene

The Lonely Doll

Cass McCombs

Ingredients for fake blood, p74. “Do we need anything else for the fake blood?” “For zombies or Tarantino?”

Gambling winnings, p66. “How are you winning when you haven’t even played poker before?” Frances Ambler wiped the floor with everyone. We call her Frances Gambler.


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Sports lens. “Can we have this meeting in the pub?” “I think it’ll be too crowded.” “You know, it’s down the road but I can actually check it with this lens.”

Royal wedding. “I had a kebab in the wedding exclusion zone the night before. I felt pretty special.“ “I went to an awesome street party!” “I avoided some royalist-themed beers, even though I bet they were really nice.”

Secondhand paperbacks. Converts to Read It Swap It: 3 Books swapped: 14


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some people who helped to make this issue but why are all the men covering their faces? kevin morosky

kong yun lee

Kevin is a photographer working in London. There’s something intimate and immediate about his portraiture that drew us to his photographs. You can see his portraits of busker-turned-recording artist Marques Toliver on page 20, and Andrew Logan, the artist with an impeccable sense of fun, on page 96.

Kong Yun Lee takes photographs under the name Ricor. We were intrigued by his mysterious and delicate photo series, Apple, which you can see on pages 78 to 83, and on page 44.

Tell us about yourself and your work. I’m 28 years old, a Virgo, and like pirates and vintage switchblades. I started photography seriously about four years ago and shoot with a disposable camera and a Yashica T4. The idea of not documenting my adventures is a sin to me. Where would you like to visit that you haven’t been before? Africa. I want to see the place that I might have called home if slavery hadn’t happened. Are you superstitious? Do you have any good luck charms? I am very superstitious. I play attention to astrological signs, and never walk under ladders. I don’t have a good luck charm but I have a lucky charm ritual in the form of a love bird tattooed on each hand. They represent my grandparents, Gloria and Valentine. I kiss them once each and think on my choice or the task ahead. If you had one pound left in the world, what would you spend it on? Ten Wham bars. Find more of Kevin’s work and his latest projects at morosky.tumblr.com.

Tell us about yourself and your work. I’m 22 and based in Taipei, Taiwan. I mostly use film and natural lighting to produce photos of people that are surreal and timeless with a vintage mood. I love to capture fragile moments, and try to figure out the sensitive, elegant and intrinsic quality from them with my camera. What city or country, which you haven’t been to before, would you like to visit and why? I’ve always wanted to pay a visit to Amsterdam because it’s full of classic and beautiful bicycles, and my love of bicycles is just as great as my love of photography. Are you superstitious? Do you have any good luck charms? I’m not superstitious, actually, and I don’t have a religion. As for me, the natural world is my concept of God. My bicycle is my good luck charm, because it’s the only object I want to take along all around the world and all my life. If you had one pound left in the world, what would you spend it on? If I had one pound left in the world I would never spend it, because one pound can’t buy too much of anything, but I would keep the coin for tossing. Ricor’s portfolio is at inverselive.com.


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jason ward

frances ambler

Jason is a writer and oh comely’s film editor. In this issue, he talked to Katell Quillévéré, page 94, and Joe Cornish, page 72, and wrote about his own cinematic adventures as a teenager making fake blood with his mother, page 74.

Frances is a book editor and oh comely’s features assistant. She interviewed Elizabeth Pisani, page 40, the world’s most straight-talking epidemiologist and a rather different pair, the owners of Hope and Greenwood sweet shops, page 104.

Tell us about yourself and your work. Cinema has been both the ambition and great joy of my life, a life which has featured occasional sidesteps into theatre and journalism. Both are vile, lovely temptresses. Other unalloyed pleasures include board games, corduroy, tea, and longdistance running. It is not a good idea to combine these things.

Tell us about yourself and your work. I work as an editor of illustrated books in a large museum. I collect books, clothes, badges, teacups, Babycham glasses and other second-hand bric-a-brac so my home has something of the atmosphere of my workplace, although sadly not its display and storage facilities.

What city or country, that you haven’t been to before, would you like to visit and why? There’s an area in Styria, Austria that sits at the foot of the Hochschwab mountains. In autumn it’s a country park, but during the spring the mountain snow melts and turns it into a lake. Are you superstitious? Do you have any good luck charms? When I was a child I was told that if you look in a mirror after midnight you’d see the Devil standing behind you. I wasn’t sure enough to take the risk, so avoided them for most of my youth. Eventually I built up the courage to have a look. I only saw myself. If you had one pound left in the world, what would you spend it on? I have some hefty library fines that I feel bad about, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t cut them down by a 1/30th.

Are you superstitious? Do you have any good luck charms? Working on this issue has made me note the full extent of my superstitions. I’ve no good luck charms, but I always make sure to greet crows and wish on eyelashes. I’ve also invented my own superstition where it’s bad luck if I leave an odd number of lenses in a strip of disposable contact lenses. What are you reading at the moment? The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. It’s a recently republished book, originally written in the 1950s, about girls in publishing office in New York and their careers and relationships. I’ve run out of Mad Men episodes and this is helping with the withdrawal process. You can read Frances’ blog posts on www.domesticsluttery.com and www.retrotogo.com. Her personal blog is lastyeargirl.blogspot.com.


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Drawings from the series the Men Who Built Magnitogorsk.


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the men who built magnitogorsk lizzy stewart and her drawings of stalin’s work camps interview laura callaghan Lizzy Stewart is a prolific illustrator based in Edinburgh. Her images are a balance of delicate line-work and strong imagery, often drawing on nature and Russian history. The images here are from her first solo exhibition, the Men Who Built Magnitogorsk. She also runs a small publishing press, Sing Statistics, with her boyfriend, Jez Burrows. The drawings of the men from Magnitogorsk are so rich and allegorical. What are the stories behind them? Magnitogorsk is a Russian industrial city built by people in Stalin’s forced labour camps in the 1930s as part of one of his Five Year Plans. A large part of the horror of Stalin’s regime was the way he used people as a disposable resource and I wanted to commemorate those he used up in building Magnitogorsk and cities like it. These drawings depict the men and women of the Gulags living their daily lives: getting off the train, eating meals, socialising. I had no wish to be political, to ham up the horror of Stalinism or to romanticise the strength of the people living in the Gulags. I don’t think it’s a story that needs another outsider narrative thrust upon it. I wanted to make factual images and that was all. In that respect the whole project is a bit of a contrast to the rest of my work, because I approached it more as documentary than art. Much of your work seems to be influenced by Russian and Eastern European culture. Where did this fascination spring from? I really love the extremes of Russian history—the contrast between the extremely basic rural way of life at the turn of the twentieth century with the opulence of the Russian aristocracy. And then there’s the literature and the art and the music! How can you not get sucked in? You create a lot of personal projects, which is an admirable feat for a full-time Lizzy Stewart’s self-portrait, above, shows another side of her style from the unsentimental lines of her Magnitogorsk drawings.

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illustrator. Do you feel it is important to constantly be creating work for yourself? I always want to feel like an artist rather than just a pencil for hire! I think it’s vital to balance commissioned work with selfinitiated projects such as this one. Knowing that I can work on a project that is very much my own helps me make peace with drawing the stuff that I don’t always care so much about. Freelance illustration can be a lonely old business. How do you counteract this? What do you do when you’re not drawing? It certainly is! I think I’m still learning to cope with this. It’s one of those things you’re really not prepared for in college, but it’s a necessity when you start out and can’t afford a studio. I’m fortunate that Edinburgh’s a wonderful city to walk around aimlessly in. A few months back, a group of us self-employed types also started a book club which has been a really good distraction from work. It’s a great excuse to gather, eat cake and have a good chat. That kind of thing really helps you through the cold Scottish winter. Do you have places or people you consistently go to for inspiration? There’s all sorts that gets me inspired, but mostly it’s literature and music. Non-visual things, I guess. It’s easy to get bogged down in someone else’s aesthetic if you look at too much other illustration. I’ll hear something in a song, or read a line of text and it’ll be something that just makes sense to me. It’s not that I want to draw it literally but to approximate the way it makes me feel in a drawing. It sounds terribly affected when I say it, but that’s what it is. I want to draw things that look like my favourite songs sound. If all else fails, I find that a late night with Radiohead’s back catalogue gets my creative juices flowing. Its been my fail-safe


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‘this’ll get me through’ music since I was fourteen. You live in one of the most beautiful cities in the country. If we were to visit Edinburgh, where should we go? Edinburgh is a beaut! I’d start with a trip up Calton Hill. You can’t beat the Edinburgh skyline and while many would say that Arthur’s Seat is the best hill in Edinburgh, I prefer Calton Hill. Not only do you get the great view of the city, but you can see Arthur’s Seat in all its craggy glory too. Walking around Edinburgh is a wonderful thing, especially if the weather is on your side. I’ve been here six years now and am yet to tire of wandering from the old town to the new town with music in my earphones and the promise of a cup of coffee and a cake at the end of it. We tested our luck this issue with a medley of superstitions. (Salt was thrown over shoulders, wishbones were snapped and one poor soul donned a rabbit’s foot.) Do you have any superstitions? I was a ridiculously superstitious child. Not real ones, but ones I made up for myself. In retrospect it was all a bit OCD. Stuff like, “If I see four red cars before we get to the end of this road, then it’ll be a good day.” Now I don’t think I adhere to any superstitions. I tend to faff about and worry a lot as it is, so I think I were to add superstitiousness to my repertoire of anxieties I’d probably fall to pieces! What plans do you have for your work in the near future? There’s a follow-up out soon to We Are the Friction, Sing Statistics’ book of illustration and short fiction. I’m moving to London to do a Masters in the autumn, so that’s my next major project. You can see more of Lizzy’s work on her website, www.abouttoday.co.uk.

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the unicorn among the lions marques toliver busked from the streets to international fame interview rosanna durham, portrait kevin morosky

You might recognise Marques Toliver’s music without knowing why. Marques is a prolific street musician, and has spent much of the past five years busking on the streets of America and Europe. He has played to crowds of people, to anyone who will listen and to packs of commuters who just don’t care. His profile soared after an appearance on the Jools Holland Show in 2010. Since then, he’s signed a record deal with Bella Union and his first EP release, Butterflies Are Not Free, came out in May. A classically-trained musician, his music is a soulful medley of rich vocals, which blends a variety of styles and shows the signs of his years of busking with its loose, improvisational feel. Why did you start busking? I started in New York as a way to hone my performance and to get a dialogue with the audience. Sometimes I’d tell people in other circles what I was doing and they’d say, “You play on the street? Why would you do that?” But there’s a whole magic created when people stop what they’re doing and listen to a four minute song. I guess you never know how people will react to your music. Do you feel vulnerable or powerful when you’re playing on the street? People can laugh at you when you’re busking, or the laughing can just be from inside your head. People look at you and feel threatened or perplexed. It’s a lot of different things. Sometimes you question why you’re outside. You think you look ridiculous and that you look homeless. It sounds a different experience to playing a regular gig, a baptism of fire. It is! It’s really powerful, the whole magic that’s created when people who don’t know one another or have any type of connection all focus on one thing that they’re drawn to. It’s a symbol of something bigger in a way—people breaking out of their comfort zones. For me, the fear is just something psychological that I have to conquer. It’s always there. It never goes away, so I have to learn to deal with it. Maybe in the future I won’t have the opportunity to busk in the open.

How have things changed for you over the last few months, now that you are the focus of attention and publicity from the mainstream music industry? After performing on the Jools Holland show, I was flown out to do a private show for Bulgari Watches. That was basically me being the new unicorn among the lions. They didn’t know whether to eat me or be my friend. It was Bollywood stars and Moroccan high society. I just thought, “This is strange.” What kind of violin do you have? My violin was made by a luthier called Jason Viseltear. My old violin was destroyed at a burlesque show in New York. I had a lightweight violin case at the time and when the show started, everybody was so excited that they jumped on the ottoman above the violin and it broke. The next day, I went to Jason’s shop and they saw how hysterical I was. They pulled one of the violins off the shelf and said, “It’s not great but try this one.” And it was great because Jason had made it. I wonder if you can ever really own a musical instrument. Part of owning them is playing them. Yes, and the heritage of who had it before. Like Jacqueline du Pré and all those great musicians, the instruments that they play on are named after them. I love instruments. I just wish I had enough time to learn them all. Did you worry that the classical influence of your music wouldn’t appeal to people? No, classical music is everywhere. It’s the foundation of Western music, so people are going to get it, or at least absorb it unknowingly. Sometimes the music that I do comes as a surprise. There might be a heavy-metal band next door, then you have me playing the violin and singing. So why is your EP called Butterflies Are Not Free? It’s about age and how we become cynical when we get older. Youthfulness and curiosity, and untainted virginity of being are lost and not free. The butterfly just exists in a certain moment. It’s about beauty in whatever form. It’s difficult not to find beauty in order and neatness. But to find beauty in the obscure and the bizarre is more difficult.


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we’ll all float on okay the skipper of alessi’s ark talks all bran and abba interview hannah jane riley, portrait max knight

Wistful and gently beguiling, the music of Alessi Laurent-Marke, the singer and songwriter of Alessi’s Ark, has long drawn comparisons with the leading women of indie folk. Having left school at fifteen to concentrate on her music, the twenty-year-old has just returned with her second album of understated melodies: Time Travel. Fittingly for this self-confessed home bird, we met in Hammersmith where she has lived since childhood. While ordering coffee, we were pleased to see that the café sold All Bran, which Alessi had for breakfast. We agreed that bran, plus blueberries and semi-skimmed milk, made the perfect breakfast combination, and settled down to talk about Mumford, music and occasionally leaving the nest. We’re just around the corner from the home you share with your family. Leaving school at 15 must have been a big decision. Were your family supportive? I think, without them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I am doing now. Or perhaps I would, but it would be a massive struggle. Things would be so, so different. The deal was that I would take the year and keep performing, keep writing. If nothing came of that, then I would have to go back to school. How have things changed for you since your first release? You learn from who you play with. With the first album I had an amazing experience, working with Mike Mogis (the producer of Bright Eyes) in Omaha. The whole thing was wonderful. We talked about harps, and he brought in a harp player. For any idea that we threw around, we could get the right person to fulfil it.

This newer one was geographically different, it’s more of a homeland record. Well, half of it was recorded in Wales, so it depends what the Welsh think about that! Anyway, it was closer to home than Omaha. The studio in Wales was in the Snowdonia area, and it was beautiful. Every now and then you hear a whoooosh from the RAF planes. My parents visited, and we all really like planes, so it was like we were at our own festival, our own Farnborough. And you’re also going to the South by Southwest festival in Texas next week, aren’t you? Have you been before? Yes, I went not last year, but the year before. I’m going with my family, and I’m quite excited about the Mexican food, because I’ve heard that it’s delicious. I actually didn’t eat my body weight in it last time, but my parents did, so I think they’re preparing themselves. Maybe there’ll be a bit of fasting beforehand. Is there anyone in particular you’re hoping to catch? I heard that the Strokes are playing. I’d love to see them. And, I don’t know if I imagined this, but I also heard that ABBA are playing? But maybe I dreamt that, because if ABBA were going to be at South by Southwest that would be really well known, wouldn’t it? Or maybe you’re one of the insiders who knows this great secret? Well, don’t tell anyone, but I think ABBA are playing South by Southwest! Although one of them’s a recluse, so maybe they’ve managed to tempt her out? I really don’t know. That’s embarrassing! I guess it was a dream.

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We’re not sure how to interpret Alessi’s self-portrait. Haystacks? Strange noses? We’ll never know the explanation.

Quite a nice one, though. I don’t know. I mean I like a few ABBA songs but…

jump off, of course. I don’t know if the animals in the Bible were given the choice, but on this ark, you can do what you want.

I think it’s because of the romantic image of Sweden. I’ve never been, but I can’t help imagining that everyone is always really happy and listens to nice pop music like Jens. I think the ABBA appreciation still comes from that. Yes, and also everyone eats lots of Daim bars!

What kind of music did you grow up with? I think anybody who is blessed with parents who really like music will end up loving it themselves. First I loved pop music, then I started getting into bands like Rilo Kiley and Bright Eyes. You don’t go off bands, but you do grow out of them. But some music does stay, definitely. For me, it’s a Graham Nash album called Songs for Beginners, which my mum loved as a teenager, and I think that it will be a life-long thing for me. It’s definitely my family that started it all.

You’ve played with Laura Marling and Mumford and Sons. Do you think their success in the Brit Awards will affect the way that your album goes? I’m extremely happy for them, and they’ve been very supportive of my music. It wasn’t really for that long that I was playing with those guys, probably from when I was 17 or 18 and then, more power to them, Mumford got really busy. And it was through them that I met Laura. Although we’re all doing different things, there’s a feeling of family. Because no one lives that far from each other, people seem to think there’s this gang in the West of London— really tough that we are! Like the new, clean Laurel Canyon. Yes, without all the hard drugs. And I don’t think there’s too much infidelity! So we’re the clean version. And with the name Alessi’s Ark, does that come from thinking of a gang or community? It started out with my family, sitting round the kitchen table with loads of books, trying to think of something we could add to my name that didn’t sound, well, silly. I feel a lot of people are part of Alessi’s Ark: people that listen, people that I’ve played with. And my family are in the ark, too. People are always allowed to

I’m the same. My dad’s from a massive family up in Merseyside who are into playing old skiffle songs whenever they get together. As your latest album is called Time Travel, have you thought about a particular time that you’d like to travel to? Maybe the Victorian times, then maybe the 20s, and then I would have liked to have hung out with my mum or my dad in the 70s, to see whether we would have been friends. Or maybe just to have observed them in the lunch hall! Maybe see my nana in the 50s as a young woman. I think I’d use it to visit the pasts of people important to me. Yes, I think that’s what I’d do, too. I think I would have been friends with my dad. My nana always shares fond memories of going out dancing. She loved to get dressed up. And my parents went to some monumental gigs here in London, shows that were really important to them. In terms of inventions, it would be amazing to see the future. How will we be travelling if we’re not allowed to pollute? I guess it’s quite scary. Perhaps it’ll be a frightening world and it’s better for us not to know. Probably, with time travelling, going back is safest.


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life is a bike emily chappell is addicted to her job words emily chappell, photo tori steffen I got into this game because I was worried that otherwise I’d end up a fat mortgage slave in my forties who’d always dreamed of being a cycle courier. What I didn’t expect was that I’d fall head over heels in love with it. I have degrees from good universities, and I expected to end up with some respectable career involving pinstripes. But now I spend my days riding around London at break-neck speed and arrive home exhausted, sweaty, bruised and caked in dirt. I earn less than the minimum wage, spend most of it on bike parts and food, and get no holiday or sick pay. I’ve been on the road three years now, having never stuck at any other job longer than six months. Why do I do it? It’s a question I struggle to answer when I’ve been sitting on the same park bench for over an hour, wishing I wasn’t paid on commission and envying everyone else their salaried office jobs. There’s nothing keeping me here. Except there is, because here I am. I was once joined on my bench by a courier in his fifties, called Sid, who’d been on the road sixteen years to my two months. “Ach, you’re not a real courier till you’ve done your first winter,” he informed me sagely. This was my challenge. Until mid December, I had no idea how difficult it would be. I was outside in wind and rain and snow and sleet for ten hours a day. As I waited for office workers to seal an envelope or sign for a package, I’d hear them moaning about shivering at the bus stop in the morning. I envied them. It’s hard to remember in the middle of spring how agonising cold hands and feet are. Even as I write this, I wonder what all the fuss was about. But I also remember riding for hours on the verge of tears, hands so numb that I could barely control the bike, and yet so painful that I couldn’t think about anything else. I finally understood why tramps drink cheap cider. If I hadn’t had a warm flat to go home to, I’d have got pissed too. Yet I think the physical challenges of the job are one of its greatest seductions. It’s fantastic riding around all day in the sunshine, but what really gets you hooked is the glow of mastery when you’ve survived a week of snow, or made it from Bank to Oxford Circus in ten minutes to meet a deadline. I have never felt so capable in my life. I was hit by a car a couple of weeks ago. This happens far more than you’d think, but it’s very rarely serious enough to cause any lasting damage. Sometimes I’ll be shaky or dizzy for a couple of hours; sometimes I’ll just have a good shout at the driver and get back on my bike. This accident was worse than usual, but it barely touched me. Experience had taught me exactly what to expect. I knew to lie still until the shaking and weeping stopped, knew to check we were both okay, check the bike was okay, and take the driver’s number in case it later turned out not to be, and knew to keep the whole thing friendly, because it’s hard to cope with screaming rows when you’re suffering from shock. Ten minutes later I was back on the bike, hoping I wouldn’t be too late for my Wigmore Street pick-up, and cautiously prodding at my mind for signs of trauma. “Are you sure you’re okay? You just got hit by a car! That’s most people’s worst nightmare.” But, to my surprise, I was. I suppose I could just as easily have felt depressed that the dangerous nature of my job means I’m used to being hit by cars, but I felt positively euphoric, in that way you do when the worst happens and you unexpectedly survive it. Someone needs to remind me I’m not invincible.


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you’re never too old to paint tarantino rose wylie was running out of floor space when her paintings started selling words and portrait rosanna durham

Rose Wylie is a rare thing: a painter labelled as up-and-coming despite being in her seventies. She went to art school in 1956 but after graduating she stopped working to look after her children. In 1979, Rose picked up her brushes again and is now a celebrated artist. She paints motifs from popular culture on huge canvases with childlike directness, layering paint and paper many times to achieve the effect she wants. She is a keen film fan and this often finds its way into her work. Are you frustrated that your work wasn’t better known earlier in your career? I’ve done loads of painting without any pressure, which is very nice. You may not have recognition or money, but you can do what you like. I’ve always liked the restriction of not having money. When artists become successful, their work doesn’t stay the same. When people buy my work, in one way I don’t want them to take it and in another way I’ve got too many paintings to handle. But as soon as your paintings leave, you don’t want them to. If you get recognised just out of art college, you’ve got to work with that reputation and the misery of whether you can keep it going or

not. You do stuff according to what people want to buy and that’s the worst thing. That’s why I always thought Madonna was so good, because she did something quite different and occasionally quite shocking. I’m also a big fan of Madonna because she always reinvents herself. So am I. Some of the things she did were difficult for people to take, but I’m a fan. I’ve done loads of drawings of Madonna. My husband listens to her music more than I do. I don’t have music in the studio. I can’t be arsed with it. I’m not technologically dependent. Why do you paint with your canvas on the floor? I suppose it’s the opposite of the rather fancy male painter on his easel. Traditionally men go out to work and women potter around the house cleaning. Painting on the floor links to a lot about women’s lives—or far too much of it, anyway—things about scrubbing and cleaning on your hands and knees. But I hate cleaning. My paintings are, obliquely, about male domination. I don’t like male domination. I hate it. I just want equality. I think women can be different from men, but not always.


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Rose is standing in her Kent studio, in front of a recent painting. She’s an avid film fan, and the painting depicts what she remembers from watching Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

Your method of work is also interesting because you stick pieces of paper over your drawings and start again, or even stitch extra pieces of canvas onto paintings in progress. You have to keep changing a painting or drawing to get it to look right. You handle the materials in order to do what you do. Now a lot of people think, “Oh these paintings are very nice because they have these additions.” But the additions are only there because I wanted more room on the canvas. I don’t start off thinking I’m going to add a piece because it might become a mannerism and I don’t actually like that. I’m against mannerisms. They are fake. I think they can take over and become routine. I like things happening spontaneously. So when I’m drawing, I work a lot with ink, and you can’t rub it out or remove it. So I stick a bit of paper down and go on over it. If that’s not right, I stick another piece and then that may be better. The paper can get quite thick. That reminds me: I was always told not to rub out my drawings when I was in primary school. I love rubbing out because we’re told not to! I tend to do things that you’re advised not to do. I don’t like

the ultra ‘I am so serious’ attitude to life. But some people are more interested in knowledge and knowing stuff. They’re not interested in a picture if it hasn’t been printed in an art magazine. They love acceptance, they love print, they like confirmation. I think a lot of people are unsure about what to think. Reinforcement is important for people, but if you decide that you are going against that as an artist, you see a different side. My daughter has a friend and he poo-poos what I do because he thinks it’s childish and silly. What, openly? Oh, yes, he howls with laughter. He asks her, “What kind of absurd thing is your mother doing now?” How do you feel about him saying that? Wonderful! I don’t mind it at all. It’s all grist, you see. Some people see my paintings and say, “This is nursery work.” But in fact, I like art that isn’t knowing. I did a painting about African lorry art, for example. When untaught African artists want to get their work seen, they paint lorries. The lorry goes from village to village, town to town. It’s like a touring art exhibition!

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We asked Rose for her self-portrait doodle and she pulled out this recent collage drawing. She often layers and cuts through the surface of her paintings and drawings, so it’s a nice example of her technique.

They paint what they know: lions, zebras, palm trees and lizards. And they do them in the most beautiful way, not steeped in knowledge of the history of art. I think they are terrific. Cartoons slot into that way of working.

in black at the end of the first Kill Bill! She kills about a hundred and ninety men; slices them up. But, and you probably think this rather peculiar having said it’s a bit violent, I think he leads a campaign for a hidden, spiritual re-look at things. I don’t know whether you agree?

What’s interesting about cartoons for you? Cartoons are very elemental. They pick up a clear aspect of something or someone and then they put it down in a rather exaggerated way. Cartoon language is there in some of my paintings and I’ve used the style of the cartoon shadows in my figures. Painting is nothing to do with being right or wrong or logic anyway.

Really? Tarantino? Well, there’s a scene in Pulp Fiction where Joules is saved from being shot at. Protected by spirituality, which Tarantino is obviously interested in. The bullet episode is actually a miracle, and it is in fact a cloudily spiritual film.

You’ve mentioned before that you also find children’s work interesting. I like children’s work very much. A child will just look at a boat and draw it. There won’t be any stylistic form. I don’t like artistic things. I know the argument that you can’t do children’s work when you’re not a child. After a while you begin to think “I’m an artist” and you do artist’s work. When I watch films, I try to deal with them like a child looking at a boat. You’ve recently painted a scene from Inglourious Basterds. Tell me about your relationship with Tarantino. His films are pretty violent, and also completely over the top. Uma Thurman killing all those men

I have to re-watch it after what you just said. Everyone just thinks of him as a very smart, possibly fake, over-violent Hollywood director. How do you use films in your painting? I think films are a very interesting 20th and 21st century art form. When I grew up films were lesser art forms. My husband and I watch a lot of films. Soon they start to merge. If you watch two or three films a week, you do mix them up. If I see something in a film and think it’s memorable, or just terrific, I let it sink in and the next day I try and draw it. Then I really know if it was memorable or not. For more information on Rose’s work, and details of future exhibitions, see www.union-gallery.com.


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oh, the places I ’d g o postcards from countries I’ve never been We asked Emma Carlisle and Ryan MacDonald to send us some postcards. These weren’t bought from the local newsagent, though. We asked them to illustrate pictures of countries they dreamed of visiting but had never been. This is what they drew.


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illustrations ryan macdonald

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Ryan illustrates under the name of Shouty Mouths and you can see his work at www.shoutymouths.com.


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illustrations emma carlisle

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You can find Emma’s work and thoughts on her blog at emmacarlisle.blogspot.com.


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this mountain goat is a home possum songwriter john darnielle is staying in tonight words dani lurie, portrait d l anderson

John Darnielle freely admits that his singing voice isn’t to everyone’s taste. It has a distinctive and somewhat nasal quality that is disliked as much as admired. It should never be said, though, that the Mountain Goats, the name under which Darnielle has recorded for twenty years, can’t inspire extraordinary devotion in its fans.

muse on it for a while.” He always brings new books on tour. “I always wonder when I’m going to get to the point in my life where I start rereading, but if I did the math I’d say, if I lived another fifty years, I will probably die without having read everything I wanted to. And plus, I do a lot of book shopping on tour.”

Darnielle is acclaimed as one of the best living songwriters. There’s a sublime lyricism to his songs: they’re literate, cathartic and gutwrenchingly honest, delivered in equal measures of snarls and frank melody. Topics range the autobiographic and fictional, narrating the vignettes of a cast of archetypes: the naïve, weathered, righteous and cruel. While the texture of the lyrics has remained constant, the music has transformed over the years from low-fi boombox recordings released on cassette tapes to polished studio productions.

Other than the bookshops, tours don’t hold much delight for Darnielle. “I keep trying to tell myself this one coming up isn’t a big tour,” he says. He winces at the thought of the three-month odysseys that some bands embark on. “I’ll go insane if I did that. Not fun, in my opinion. For some people it’s fun, but I like to be at home. And if you’re given to any sort of depressive fits and you are on the road, it’s a bad scene. You can have a lot of fun but you have to be careful with your mental health.”

Darnielle’s craft has been two decades in the making. “I’m a much better songwriter than I once was. I think I learned on the job,” he explains. “There’s a vitality to the early stuff that’s exciting, but I dig the songs now. I feel like I learned, really slowly, to say things simply. The songs now reach people in some place.” People write to him, he says, and tell him how moved they were by these songs. Sometimes they’ve even had the lyrics tattooed on their arms.

He declines social invitations as much as possible in an attempt to preserve his sanity. “People say, ‘Let’s have dinner, let’s go out,’ and you realise that you haven’t been alone with yourself at all for a month or so, and then it’s already nuts. For some people that’s like fuel, but I’m not that person. I need time to myself.”

“Those are always the songs from 2004 or 2005 onwards,” he observes. “I’m a record collector and a reader so I know what that’s like. I was reading a poem by Jean Valentine the other day and it completely floored me. The first thing I thought was, ‘I could get that in ink down my arm, it would be so great.’ I have that experience of art every day and so it’s a profound honour. When I was a child lip-synching to my favourite band, that’s what I hoped to experience some day.” Talented lyricists aren’t always fanatical readers, of course, but Darnielle is bookish and retiring in a way that is unusual in a performing musician. His house is full of books, he tells me. “I was a child with modest dreams and having this many books was one of them.” He laughs, “There are books in every room in this house. There are books in the closet. I always wonder if my wife knew she was getting into this much bookishness when we got together.” He has a tour coming up, and that means a lot of reading, he says. For the release of the Mountain Goats’ new album, All Eternals Deck, he’ll be on the road taking in America and the UK with his band, longtime bassist Peter Hughes and drummer Jon Wurster. It’s poetry that Darnielle often turns to on the road, sitting in the back seat of the van while his tour manager, Brandon (whom he describes as, “the greatest human being who ever lived”) does most of the driving. “If you’re reading novels, some days you don’t really feel like you have the attention span to focus and you just sort of sit there feeling like a log. If you have a book of poetry, you can crack it open, read one and

His response to fans who approach him for a chat seems a combination of bemusement and awkwardness. “I am a hermit and I don’t consider myself a good conversationalist. People think that because I can write, that I’ll be witty, but I’m kind of not. I can’t see why anybody would think that I would be cool to hang out with and talk to, so it’s always a little odd.” The stage is a different place, of course. For those who have seen Darnielle’s joyful performances, it may be hard to imagine the person he paints himself as. “When I say I’m shy, I don’t mean I’m withdrawn. I just feel awkward. But I don’t on stage. On stage, I feel very much at home. It’s not like a mask, but it is a transformation. That’s where I like to be myself and I feel very much myself up there. It’s like a different planet.” In the end, he is a confirmed homebody. “I’m kind of a possum living in a cave. When I say that I won’t leave the house today, that’s no exaggeration. I stay in.” He enjoys pottering about the kitchen and cooking for his wife. His favourite food to make is soup and bread. “Making soups is the most satisfying thing. There’s nothing quite like it. If you have a good soup and a good bread, that’s to me the nicest and most comforting meal.” In fact, he’s had a pie-in-the-sky idea of opening up a soup place. What would he call it? He ponders briefly. “I had a tape out in 1994 called Yam, the King of Crops, which is a line from Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. So maybe that would be a great restaurant name. I can see a sign now, saying Yam, the King of Crops.”


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A tin-glazed earthenware plate from the Wellcome Collection’s Dirt exhibition. Photo: Museum of London.

E

Elizabeth Pisani breezes in late to our meeting in the Wellcome Collection’s imposing foyer. “Sorry I’m a bit late,” she announces, “I was playing hookie.” Pisani is not as serious a person as her CV suggests. A renowned epidemiologist and AIDS specialist, Pisani has worked with Ministries of Health in multiple countries and advised the World Health Organisation. She has also courted controversy with her outspoken opposition to well-meaning policies on AIDS that she believes fail in the real world. She tackles uncomfortable issues with disarming directness. She tells of a trip to rural China that she took in the eighties, when she vividly describes the experience of having to squat in a row above a toilet trench. “When you’re the only white woman for 200 miles and you’re twenty years old and you’re already a ‘talking dog’ to most people because white people aren’t supposed to speak Chinese and on top of all that you have to defecate in such a public situation—” It’s an experience many people would be keen to forget. Pisani appears to have been unfazed. “No one batted an eyelid,” she says. “I think the way that we treat these things is deeply internalised and is a society thing and the shock factor doesn’t cross that. It’s not inherently shocking.”

We’re here off the back of the Wellcome Collection’s latest exhibition: Dirt. Subtitled, “the filthy reality of everyday life,” it uses the examples of different world cities throughout history to explore our relationship to dirt: a home in Delft in the seventeenth century, a street in Victorian London and a rubbish tip in present day New Delhi, for example. Pisani got involved when the head of public programmes at the Collection asked her to come along to a brainstorming dinner when the Wellcome was dreaming up the exhibition. “I know nothing about dirt,” she claims, “but he said, ‘You’ve got the dirtiest mind of anyone we know.’” The result is Pisani’s contribution to the book that accompanies the show, and this is what first piqued my interest. It looks far beyond the idea of physical dirt to warn of the dangers in being too clean. The essay expounds her attitude to taboo topics, especially sex: it’s dirty, yes; it can spread diseases, undeniable; but it’s also funny and rather fun. She concludes in the piece that we should do more to celebrate the unclean, “We could probably do without mud-wrestling, but life without sex, money, art and even monkfish would surely be abominable.”


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aids, drains and dirty truths elizabeth pisani tells the unsanitised truth about the world’s worst diseases words frances ambler portrait hector durham

We were both surprised to see what little part sex and the other ‘dirty little secrets’ that her essay covers actually play in the exhibition. She seemed a little disappointed, in fact. “I thought the idea of dirty secrets would feature more prominently. I thought there would be some kind of curtain that you could pull back and peer behind.” While the show is missing such a curtain, it’s a good metaphor for Pisani’s work. Part of what makes her engaging as speaker and effective as a researcher is her willingness is to pull back the curtain and examine what’s been hidden from society or, in other words, really get her hands dirty. This stance is borne out by Ternyata, the public health consultancy she founded last year. It states, “We never lose sight of the fact that science does not exist in a vacuum, and work hard to make sure that our advice is practical and our recommendations feasible. We try to bring an open mind and a critical spirit to every job.” The consultancy embodies Pisani’s aim to find solutions that work with the way people behave in the real world. She argues, “You haven’t identified potential solutions unless they fit within a cultural or political context. Working with ‘dirty’ groups, sex workers or whatever, you can’t take a purely

academic approach.” She gives the example of treating syphilis. “Say you discover a solution that means medication, it’s ignoring the fact that in some places a transgender person can’t come to the men’s section in a clinic because they get sent away.” Pisani’s view of the world is informed by her interdisciplinary background. “I think if you have a wider view of the world, you are better equipped in any particular situation,” she says. It was an MA in Classical Chinese that took her to China in her twenties, not a common first step towards a specialisation in HIV research. Next, she became a foreign correspondent for Reuters and Asia Times, covering everything from Tiananmen Square to the stock market. She eventually took an MSc in Medical Demography, obtained her PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, and now has spent over a decade working on HIV. She’s hopeful about the future of multidisciplinary careers like her own, in contrast to the complaint that academia is getting more and more specialised. “I wish I was seventeen again for all sorts of reasons. Because of communication, data exchange and travel, it’s becoming more possible to take an active and involved interest in more than one field.”

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Close-up fungi from the Dirt exhibition; above is mould growing on a sheepskin book cover, below is mildew on a rose leaf. Robert Hooke’s Micrographia (1665). Photo: Wellcome Library.

Ternyata’s is a commendable aim, but the best long-term outcome isn’t always the easiest to implement without taking on some pretty formidable opponents. Take the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and their well-publicised aim to eradicate polio within two years. Surely a worthy campaign? Pisani would agree, but she is fiercely critical of their narrow focus, explaining the limitations of the oral vaccines funded by the Foundation. “In states in northern India they’re vaccinating 12, 13, 15 times and they’re not developing any immunity. Why? The drops go straight through them and they shit out the vaccines. But when you say to the Gates Foundation, ‘Why don’t we invest some money in drains, rather than oral vaccines?’ it’s like, ‘Oh, we don’t do that infrastructure stuff, that’s a black hole.’” The situation is echoed in the London room of the exhibition, which focusses on the Victorian cholera epidemic. The disease was ultimately halted by the building of sewers. Pisani notes that while the building of the sewers and a clean water system back in the nineteenth century was ultimately to the public benefit, there was negligible demand for it by the population. It’s much easier for the population and public health providers to point to a vaccine as a solution to a health problem, she says, than it is to look to expensive and time-consuming longer term measures. And on this topic, Pisani is unafraid to tread on other sacred ground. She draws a deep breath, “On the whole, and this is a really dirty thing to say, democracy doesn’t work well with public health. It’s

really about taking a long term view, and potentially making some short term sacrifices, particularly financial sacrifices, and the other thing is basically saying we care more about the public, society as a whole, than we do about any given individual. And that’s a very difficult thing to do in a democracy especially when you have very vocal interest groups. It’s fine to say, ‘We’ll save money in the future,’ but if you get thrown out of office now, what’s the future gain?” Her frustration with political short-term thinking is understandable when her work on the spread of HIV/AIDS relates so closely to some of politicians’ least favourite—and society’s dirtiest—topics: sex, drugs and race. It’s the last of those three subjects that, in Pisani’s eyes, is one of the most dangerous to handle. She explains, “Talking about what’s culturally most dirty in our society at the moment, I would put racism most up there. It’s considered the most taboo thing, even though it’s equally ingrained in our society. Because of the fear of it, there are some things that cannot be addressed very directly.” She’s talking particularly about the spread of the virus in Sub-Saharan Africa where the proportion of people infected with HIV is six percent—six times the global average. The uncomfortable truth, she argues, is that the disastrous spread of the disease is partly down to the cultural norms that prevail in these regions. HIV is highly infectious only for short periods of time, so the virus spreads best in areas where polygamy or multiple partners is common, and where women


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Elizabeth Pisani photographed at the Wellcome Collection’s Dirt Exhibition.

have the autonomy to have multiple partners as well as men. This is in contrast to somewhere like Saudi Arabia, where polygamy is common, but not female autonomy. She refers to the case of the current South African president, Jacob Zuma, to demonstrate that this model of behaviour is accepted in the country. “He has five wives, three of them current, has just had a child by the daughter of his best friend who is thirty years younger than him, and on top of that was accused of rape during his rise to the presidency. Now, that’s the president of the country, so that behaviour has to be acceptable within that society, right?” Pisani blames a quasi-Victorian obsession with monogamy for stifling realistic discussion about this, and hence ultimately allowing AIDS to spread unchecked in these areas. She touches on it in her essay for Dirt, saying, “The mismatch between the echoey-Victorian public discourse about sex in some parts of Africa and the vibrant practice of this most fulfilling of human activities has, in part, allowed the fatal but preventable HIV virus to infect an estimated 40 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.” If monogamy, serial or otherwise, is regarded as the only civilised form of sexual behaviour, highlighting any deviations from this becomes dangerous stuff and so, when it comes to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, it’s safer to stick to the explanations of poverty and ignorance. She claims motivations like this are at the root of what appear to be

irrational viewpoints. Former South African president Thabo Mbeki has refused to endorse a link between HIV and AIDS, for example. “It’s widely recognised that a driving force in his belief is that he absolutely refuses to acknowledge this equation of sexuality and savagery. The arguments in his circles go, ‘If you are saying we have more HIV and it is sexually spread, that somehow you are accusing us of being uncivilised and savage.’” However one feels about Pisani’s stance, it’s hard not admire her willingness to tackle the dirtiest of topics in the cause of robust solutions to public health dilemmas. As AIDS nears its thirtieth birthday, her blog is busy lambasting the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV for their newly-drafted guidelines to safer sex. Once again, she says, a blanket approach of warning about every risk, however marginal, leaves those most at risk with little likelihood of heeding the guidelines. “They seem to assume that the sort of people who take significant risks on a regular basis care about their long term health prospects,” she complains. “We don’t.” Elizabeth Pisani’s research operates in a world where people get drunk and drug users share needles, in ways that academics often don’t take account of. Her empathy and engagement with human desires means she adds a useful dissenting voice to the discussion. The Dirt exhibition is on at the Wellcome Collection until August 31st. Elizabeth Pisani’s personal blog is www.wisdomofwhores.com.


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loneliness is a putrid seafood broth unsettling revelations of a long korean lunchtime words kate leaver, photo ricor I found Korean women to be more exquisite than their palettes would suggest. That they part their blossom-hued lips to inhale bowls of three-week-old cabbage flecked with chilli, is a sophisticated travesty. Kim-chi is a culinary abomination to me, reminiscent of old shoe and flaccid garden herb. Dutifully, I washed it down with a pint of tepid seaweed soup almost daily to placate a watchful Korean matriarch. The gracious consumption of a bowlful was the least I could do as a conspicuous-looking foreigner. One lunchtime, the girls in the office fastened their coats and cardigans and gathered by my desk. Micro-puddles of sweat gathered at the nape of their necks as they prepared for the gnawing cold outside our oven-baked office. They tittered in Korean, brushing mittened hands against buttoned coats. “We want to take you for lunch please, Kate,” said Eun-joo. Her eyes, like slithered almonds, had such kindness. There’s a daintiness about her face so entirely likable; a giggle that rests with a pink smudge upon her cheek. She leaned in to thread her arm through mine with the warmth of a childhood companion. “Oh, I’d love that so much!” I said, “What are we having?” They giggled. The wicked-sweet giggle of women who have a seafood-related secret. It was ominous. We queued in a line that coiled out from a doorway through market stalls and toward the anarchy of South Korean traffic, huddled against the wind. I was flanked by the girls on either side—an entourage of impossibly graceful new friends. Swan-like, their elegance belied their setting. We sat at an oblong, silver-topped table with tiny trapdoor stashes of ginger and shallots. A murky, thin liquid was splashed into bowls. Ingredients unidentifiable, warm. Like a meek spear-fisher, I harpooned floating morsels, willing them to camouflage with the plastic. Chatting away, I prayed to a miscellaneous deity: Please let there be no eyeballs in my soup. Please let there be no eyeballs in my soup. Please let there be no eyeballs in my soup. Whoever was manning the clouds that day gleefully ignored my request. A scaly portion of fish rotated, and a single eye stared blankly up at me, silent and dismembered. I briefly wondered if the eye would spy on my insides if I swallowed it, and discreetly blinded the soup-dwelling Cyclops with a sheet of seaweed. Sifting soup and lifting the thick white spoon to my mouth between murmurs and tatters, I basked in the company of my new lady friends. They all worked at the Australian Embassy in Seoul, where I turned up each morning for a week with intrepid enthusiasm. “Tell me about your families,” I said. Bong Cha had two daughters. Hea Woo was just married. Eyes downcast and a flush of amber to her cheek, Eun-joo confessed that she was unattached, single, alone. “You can’t be more than 25 years old, Eun-joo,” I said. “All the time in the world to find a man!” The other women—mothers, wives, daughters-in-law—looked at me. “In Korea, that’s old. If she’s not married soon, no man will want her.” “No man will want her?” I repeated, incredulous. “No man will want me,” she repeated, resigned. The idea that Eun-joo could be left for old by some squat, charmless little man with an antiquated cognisance of femininity was more repulsive to me than all the eyeballs in Korea. In that moment, her fragility was disarming. It was painful, tangible. My pulse quickened, my temples burned and my teeth met at lashing, awkward intervals as I absorbed my culture shock. An uneasy rage clawed at my larynx, and the room was airless. In Seoul, you learn quickly: No shoes inside. Traffic lights are for decoration. Age is wisdom, wisdom is aged. Women like shiny things, men get drunk and hold hands after work. Hedgehogs can be pets and beauty can be bought. To get off the subway you’d better hope a stocky, leathery Korean grandma notices you looking longingly at your stop through the swathes of people, grabs you by the arm and pushes you headlong onto the platform. And, just like a soup-ridden fish, your perspective can change in the blink of an eye.


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stacy in plaits by agatha a nitecka

hair sergio renis

model stacy martin | premier


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shirt by cos


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self-portrait in fashion five models take their own pictures by india hobson thanks clic la mode studio, michael and laura thomas

Models are some of the most photographed people around. But they’re usually seen through someone else’s eyes. So India Hobson thought it was time to let them play, and asked some models to take control of the camera. With just a photo booth and a remote shutter device, these are the self-portraits they created. All styling is the models’ own.


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taii gordon | premier vest and top: primark / jacket: h&m / cardigan: gap / rings: topshop, asos, river island / earrings: topshop


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sophie bailey | the talent net leotard: topshop


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claudia devlin | premier belted dress: jane norman / cardigan: florence & fred / hat: topshop / bracelet: pandora


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emily trimble-thompson | storm dress: american apparel / necklace: east berlin / ring: bittersweets ny / watch: swatch / bra: urban outfitters


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jasmine clark | premier shirt: topshop


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snip snip sergio renis’ works of art are as fleeting as flowers interview agatha a nitecka

Sergio Renis worked with Agatha A Nitecka and Stacy Martin to create the shoot on pages 46 to 55. We were amazed by the coils and forms of hair he brought to life on Stacy’s head. He and Agatha have collaborated many times over years, so we asked them to have a conversation about the art of hair. Day to day, Sergio works at the Windle and Moodie hair salon in London’s West End. He works regularly on catwalk shows during London and Paris fashion weeks. His favourite shows so far have been Paul Smith, Alexander McQueen and Lanvin. Shall we reveal how we met? How many years ago was it? I guess it’s over four years ago now, isn’t it? You came to the salon with a rather delicate hairstyle, in need of attention. Your hair was all frazzled, and dyed a bad shade of black. We embarked on a rescue mission; we cut it into a super-sharp short bob. From something plain and unhealthy-looking, you managed to create a rather amazing form, which still looked like it belonged to me. I noticed, first with my own hair, then during the shoots we did together: you consider the texture, the colour and the shape. I remember you felt my skull first to see how the bob would shape up on my head! Yes, I do like feeling people’s head shape first, as the final result depends a lot on the canvas you are working on. It’s an element from tailoring, that focus: making sure that what you are wearing fits your shape. It’s a sculptural approach, isn’t it? How did you develop it? None of my previous hairdressers had a similar approach. It’s a skill that features in men’s haircutting a lot, as you must work very close to the head shape and scalp. Every bump and odd skull-shape influences the length and style of the haircut.

Since you mention men’s hair, this brings us back to the beginning of your career. Can you tell me how it started? I honestly don’t remember how old I was when I first put my foot into the local barber shop, which my mother sent me to fill my free time on my long summer holidays. I’d say that hairdressing chose me rather than I chose it. That’s usually the case, isn’t it? Things just happen. It was in southern Italy, right? Yes. Frankly, I hated it at first: no playtime, no free time at all. I was just a young boy then. But, yes, after the first couple of summers spent sweeping hair from the floor, cleaning and serving coffees to the clients, I finally started to train under the careful eye of my boss. Revelation upon revelation of the beauty of hair started to reveal itself to me. London’s hair salons are quite chic—it’s a different environment from a barbershop. What did you talk about with your clients back in Italy? At the barber, do men drink coffee and speak to the guy next to them? The conversation was rather stereotypical: girls, football and cars, bikes and that was the routine. Nothing very challenging, or mind-expanding at all, but then I was only in my mid teens, so what did I know of the world? But, yes, guys in the barbershop in a southern Italian town do talk a lot to each other. It’s like a meeting place as well as a beauty parlour. Besides, everyone knew each other, so it was almost like being in a bar surrounded by friends. I was wondering if you could tell me about the listening and the talking that goes on while cutting your clients’ hair. People sometimes can open up easily to a stranger. It’s a bit scary at times: you never know who is sitting in the chair when it’s their first time. Still, a lot of the time it’s very exciting and very social. It’s much more interesting and fulfilling than many of those dinner party events.


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The secret lies in listening first. That’s what everyone wants: listen to me, then speak, and make me look beautiful. There is a lot to take in. The type of chats you have with people also shapes the kind of hairdresser you become. The more you get into gossiping and bitching, the more you tend to attract that kind of clientèle. Your clients are a mirror of your own personality. I have always thought that’s the case, actually. I wanted to hear your thoughts on the fashion industry. A lot of people say how unpleasant the fashion environment can be, but in my experience I tend to meet the most lovely people. It really is interesting, isn’t it? That’s why you’ve got to really like being a hairdresser, or it can be fatal to your inner self. Fashion is a world of egos and multi-layered personalities, as well as extremely creative and fun-loving people. It’s all about the level of engagement you want to have with it. Being yourself and truthful to what you like and believe in gives you a good start. You’ve been doing hair for sixteen years in London now. Why London, how did you decide on the move? I simply loved the idea that there was a place where the freedom existed to be to creative, to change and to perhaps make mistakes without being looked down on. Long live London! I was working at Daniel Field organic and mineral hairdressing when I did my first editorial shoot for a magazine. I was curious about doing hair for the camera, trying to express myself within this new medium. I began to do test shoots with any young photographer willing to spend weekends in a studio or even someone’s living room. What an exciting mess the whole thing was! I loved the buzz of lights, cameras, models and make-up, working alongside the hair to create

an image, a story, a feeling. After four years, I had my first opportunity to join a backstage team at a London Fashion Week show. It took me a while after that to come back to planet earth. I guess you are more used to it now? Each new season feels special. That’s the pull, the fact that you don’t know at all what’s coming in terms of the looks and the clothes. Womenswear is where it all happens. It takes skill, speed and focus in order to survive the pressure, which can sometimes be overwhelming. You also had your first show as the lead stylist in February, for Corrie Nielsen. What was that like? I loved the whole thing. The clothes were full of character and drama with some amazing tailoring. We had fifteen models to style and as usual they all came in at different times, some twenty minutes before the show, and that’s when it all gets intense. I love the creative energy that goes into the shows: showmanship in general is at its highest level. Editorial shoots have a different dynamic: all the elements are controlled, as you are almost working on a still life. The live show has a very romantic side to it. The looks are created only for that one time. Those hairstyles are like flowers. Once they have blossomed, they are blown. What are you aiming for? I know that we all have plans, yet life takes its own turns, but where are you heading right now? Plans: I’d like to call them projects instead. I think life is directional enough, I see no point in stressing about plans. The one project I’d love to do is to have a space where hair and all things beautiful and interesting come together, almost like on the set, but they stay there. Most of all, I have a lovely girlfriend, Beth. We share a lovely home with a sunny garden and we both have an insatiable hunger for a good life full of beauty. That’s the life I love.


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something curious the secret history of rubbers words rosanna durham

Rubbers aren’t objects of beauty or elegance but engineered to wipe out our mistakes. They cover our tracks and spelling mistakes, the badly-observed lines that we don’t want anyone to see. Letter-writers, draughtsman and scribblers use rubbers; school kids use them in art class and artists in their studios. But their expertise is a little redundant now. After all, you can’t rub things out on a computer screen. “Where are all the rubbers?” I wondered. I searched them out at an old-fashioned art shop. They had one or two rubbers on display. When I asked the shop assistant if there were any others, she pulled out a wooden drawer full of them. There was the well-loved German rubber, the Mars Plastic by Staedtler. They also had a stockpile of the Artgum Stanford, a very effective American rubber that looks like a piece of fudge. It goes hot in your hands when you use it, giving off a horrible oily smell and disintegrating as you rub. Another was the Factis Ink 30, a hard-as-nails Spanish ink rubber. It’s a dour grey colour when most ink rubbers today are pale blue. It takes off most of the paper surface when you use it. Then there was the Magic Rub 1954. I’d never seen one before, but I discovered that it’s actually a celebrity in the eraser world. Made of bubbly vinyl plastic, the Magic Rub was designed to rub out on tracing paper and film. It has such a specific use, in fact, that I got thinking: rubbers have a history to them, if only we cared to find it out.


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Staedtler Mars Plastic

Windsor and Newton Griffin

Staedtler, who began making pencils in 1662, manufactures the Mars Plastic rubber. Made of synthetic rubber, its selling point is the limited crumble you get when you use it. Staedtler even recommend it as a household cleaner. It rubs out trainer streaks on the floor, grease from light switches and dead skin from nail files. Die-hard fans have nicknamed it ‘the Mars’.

A soft, peachy green rubber whose claim to fame in the competitive world of rubbers is that it won’t smudge your pencil marks. Rhomboid-shaped so you can hold it like a pen and rub out with pinpoint accuracy.

Rotring Rapid Eraser TB20

Probably the most effective rubber around, whose only weakness of character is that it disintegrates into a pile of dust when put to use. Popularly known as the ‘Fudge Rubber’.

A modern eraser that has the uncommon distinction of being twothirds bright yellow. Considering that, for much of the 20th century, rubbers were only available in a peachy pink colour, this is an aesthetic and technological feat worth appreciating. The TB20 is of that new generation of plastic erasers that stay ageless and ready to use for decades after purchase, whereas naturally-sourced rubbers crack and harden over time. At work, the TB20 is an ink and lead eraser, made from additives that catch the particles, not harsh abrasives. Factis Ink 30 An unassuming ink rubber made in Spain, the Ink 30 is an exceptionally abrasive piece of kit, sweeping away ink and paper in a single rub. There are two Ink 30s above, one with a white end for pencil marks.

Sanford Artgum Design

PK 20 Eraser The PK 20 is, yes, another modern plastic eraser, but its distinction is an unassuming one: it’s latex-free. So if you’re allergic to latex, then this combined ink and pencil rubber is for you. Sanford Magic Rub 1954 A vintage classic used by people who are either nostalgic about rubbers or don’t know any better. The Magic Rub is made of vinyl plastic and excels at rubbing out on delicate surfaces, such as tracing paper, drafting paper or film.


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horseshoe versus r a b b i t ’s f o o t we tested bad omens and good luck charms illustration evgenia barinova

On the whole, I come from a fiercely anti-superstitious family. My parents protest to this day that they don’t know their star signs, although I think they must be faking. My sisters and I weren’t even allowed to believe in Father Christmas growing up. In a vein of rigorous truthfulness, one of my sisters was rebuked by her primary school teacher for liberating other poor deceived six-year-olds from the Santa delusion. (With an inexplicable lapse in consistency, we did have a Tooth Fairy.) It was in this spirit of mischief that we set out to test our luck with a variety of charms and omens. Each one of us would take on a lucky charm or perform a notoriously unlucky action. We would shock strangers, alarm family members—apart from mine, of course—and risk death or seven years of doom. At the end of the week, we would gather and transform the office into an unlikely gambling den to put our luck to the test with a game of poker. This is how our weeks unfolded.

liz

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rabbit’s foot

wishbone

An ancient good-luck amulet across much of the world. Some traditions say that the foot must be taken from a cross-eyed rabbit. Rosanna hunted down a foot.

The wishbone from a turkey or chicken, when pulled apart by two people, brings luck to the person who gets the larger piece. Frances tucked into a roast chicken to find one.

I wasn’t sure how to find a rabbit’s foot and I didn’t have the stomach to ask for one from the butcher. So I bought one on eBay. It cost £3.99. The auction said “Brand New Rabbit’s Foot! We are the UK largest Supplier of Lucky Rabbit’s Feet and as such offer the LOWEST PRICE for Rabbit’s feet on Ebay!! BUY NOW AND GET SOME LUCK!!” The seller was based in Newcastle and had sold 223 rabbit’s feet in the past.

One roast dinner down and I was the proud owner of a wishbone. It needed a little time to dry out before embarking on stage two of its luck-bringing potential, so I set it aside on the shelf with the crockery. The next day I got my boyfriend to pull it with me, and I won the bigger part. It’s quite possible he just let me win for a quieter life, but I choose to believe Lady Luck decided to smile on me.

When it arrived, ‘Made in China’ was printed very prominently on the top of the key ring. It smelled horrible. It smelled of rabbit. It smelled of musty, dead rabbit. The rabbit’s toe nails had been cut short, which didn’t endear me to the thing. I clipped it to the zipper on my hoodie, and wore it around for a day. To amuse myself, I occasionally touched friend’s necks or ears with the rabbit’s foot, creeping up behind them and surprising them with its soft, smelly touch. At home, the dog began chewing it, following me around to get a bite of the foot whenever I sat down. That night we played poker. It was the first time I’d ever played and I won the first round. And the third and seventh round too. Actually, I did pretty well for a rookie poker player. Unfortunately, there are no other occurrences of good luck to report. This was the week I got my bicycle repaired and promptly got it broken again the following day, the week I stared at a laptop for more time than I spent outside in the sun, and the week I ate more cheese than vegetables. Poker rank: 2nd

I had never played poker properly before, but I was hopeful. I was down at the chancer end of the table: next to the players with the rabbit’s foot and the horseshoe, a perfect position to compare my winnings with theirs. I didn’t seem to be able to take on board the rules of betting or the winning combinations, despite having them all written out on a crib sheet in front of me. Against such insurmountable odds, a few rounds in and I actually won a round—beginner’s luck, maybe? This soon turns into a lucky streak and I was raking in the pennies. I should have been overjoyed. Instead all I had ringing in my ears were some of my gran’s words to the wise, “lucky in cards, unlucky in love.” Poker rank: 1st


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opening an umbrella indoors

breaking a mirror

Opening an umbrella indoors is either supposed to invite ghosts in, or insult the sun god, depending on who you listen to. Hector took a trip with an umbrella under clear skies.

This is one of the more dreaded omens, heralding seven years of bad luck. Or, if you’re Spanish, seven years of bad sex. It's a good thing Michael's not Spanish, as he took this one on.

We went to a small, very crowded newsagent, and I opened the umbrella in there. The umbrella only just fitted in the newsagent as it was such a tiny shop. The shoppers were amused, I think, except for a woman who started shouting at me in Polish. Well, she might just have been shouting in general. You never know. There was also a man outside who said, “It’s not raining, mate.” I felt embarrassed by the incident, but not unlucky.

My enthusiasm for this idea was largely based around my desire to break a mirror. There was something about the iconoclasm of it which appealed to me, laughing in the face of destiny while smashing something into a thousand pieces.

The poker was average. I won once, so the result was not statistically significant. Nothing very lucky or unlucky has happened lately, although I ran out of petrol today. I did win £25, but that was back in January. Poker rank: 6th

Needless to say, it didn’t pan out like that. You can’t just go at it with a hammer if you don’t want to be picking slivers of glass out of your hands and carpet for the next week. More pressingly, Des insisted that the deed took place in a public place. So, after practicing dropping the mirror ‘by accident’, I trooped off to McDonald’s with Des and Hector. Having sheepishly ordered some fries I didn’t want, I let slip the mirror from under my elbow. Rather than an exultant crash, it gave a sickening crunch, and a solitary sliver of glass detached itself. By this point I was so taken by stage-fright I didn’t really register anyone's reaction. The staff seemed bemused, if anything. “You know that’s really bad luck?” Hector said to the cashier, who didn’t seem to have thought of this. Poker rank: 5th

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horseshoe Horseshoes have been talismans ever since the days when blacksmiths were considered lucky because they worked with elemental fire. Laura carried one around for a week. My luck begins with a £2.50 hen party costume. Specifically, a garish plastic horseshoe torn from one of its many ribbons. I carted this hunk of gleaming plastic to and from work, on buses, tubes and trains for the majority of a week. My horseshoe rattled happily around my bag and I had forgotten it was even there by the end of the first day. That was until day two, when a filling I had forgotten even existed fell out while I absentmindedly brushed my teeth. Day three and four heralded more bad luck. I slept through not one but three alarms and missed the bus to work, which resulted in a sheepish arrival in the office thirty minutes late. I can’t really blame the horseshoe for this one. Punctuality and I are not the best of friends. When our poker game swung round, Jason kindly pointed out to me that traditionally the luck bestowed by a horseshoe is dependent on which position one holds it in. Holding it with the ends pointing upwards is good luck as it stores the good luck, whereas carrying it with the ends pointing downwards allows the luck to fall out. Predictably, I hadn’t been paying attention to which way my horseshoe was pointed. So if you decide to put your faith in a plastic hen party castoff, I cannot stress too much the importance of research. Poker rank: 4th

looking at the new moon over your left shoulder The new moon seen over your left shoulder is supposed to bring bad luck, over the right shoulder brings good luck. Unfortunately for Jason, he was assigned a left shoulder glance. The new moon was scheduled for the night of the poker game, which afforded me a great opportunity to have an instant luck reaction. The problem with this, of course, is that the new moon isn’t visible. I retreated to the office roof during the run-up to the game, whereupon I spun in a circle while looking over my shoulder. The moon had to be out there somewhere. I didn’t fall off the roof to an untimely end, so perhaps I didn’t see it. Or maybe looking at the new moon is unlucky, but not in ‘certain death’ way. I certainly did poorly during the poker. I came last. And how! I didn’t win a single round. I wouldn’t have even won any of the rounds where I folded early. The next weekend I attended a wedding. I wondered if I would bring misfortune along with me. I shouldn’t have worried. Both bride and groom showed up on time. The vicar didn’t fumble his lines. No-one burst through the doors at the last moment. The weather was beautiful. There were no fights at the reception. My bad luck had run out. Poker rank: 8th


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a bird landing in your house

salt over the shoulder

This has, by a long straw, the most unpleasant consequence of any bad omen: death. Liz tried to lure a bird inside.

Throwing salt over your left shoulder is meant to blind the devil who sits there. The practice dates from when salt was a valued commodity. Des went in search of spilled salt.

The internet is packed with anxious people asking Yahoo! Answers about their life chances after a pigeon got stuck in their conservatory. For your peace of mind, it only counts if the bird lands. Also, the superstition didn’t specify how long it took for the death to occur. Three days? Fifty years? So my immediate concern was the more imminent problem of actually having a bird stuck in my house. This was also the problem that was bound to bother my staunchly unsuperstitious parents a lot more. I laid a trail of crumbled crackers and cheese leading across the garden and into the dining room. It was a pleasant day in early spring and there was a healthy number of birds flying around outside, but to my relief none seemed particularly attracted by the bait. It might have been the presence of the my parents, who were wandering around in the back garden and exclaiming in alarm about the trail. It was a week in which I got annoyed about lots of things, none of which I can remember but, as I failed to inflict any bad luck on myself, perhaps they don’t count. I had a slow, lingering death in the poker, playing cautiously but getting bad hands all the time and then risking lots of money on a few not quite-good-enough ones. Poker rank: 7th

People kindly voted to make my salt throwing a public spectacle. It was hard to engineer a reason to skip along the aisles in Sainsbury’s leaving a trail of salt, or to spray it along the street like some sort of gritting enthusiast. Less popular ideas included smashing a salt shaker in a restaurant and throwing the whole lot over my shoulder. Eventually, a quiet ritual in the corner of a grocer seemed like the best bet. The only problem was, all I could find was celery salt. What does the devil think of celery? Would the good luck properties of salt be enhanced or countered? I had a go anyway. My luck took a turn for the better and I found some fine sea salt tucked away in a corner. I couldn’t bring myself to spoil a whole container, so I crouched down and groped down the back of the shelf instead, where stray salt debris and small insects had gathered. I threw handfuls over my shoulder several times for good measure. A passing woman flinched away from the grubby salt mixture, and brushed it off back onto me as I crouched in the aisle. Bemused looks from the rest of the shoppers. I was blessed with a seat for the poker game from which I could regularly see three other people’s hands. Poker rank: 3rd

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on a celebrity panel show, no one can hear you scream how joe cornish filmed attack the block words jason ward portrait trent mcminn It was 2004 and Joe Cornish’s roof needed fixing. “This weird thing happened. The Adam and Joe Show got cancelled and then there was something that we didn’t really expect, which is that all the executives at the TV channels just suddenly swapped. Everyone from Channel 4 went to the BBC and loads of people from the BBC went to Channel 4. We didn’t know what was happening. And suddenly they just weren’t interested in us at all. I remember the new head of Channel 4 saying, ‘Look, Joe, whatever you get offered, just take it.’ He was trying to stop us from insisting on doing our own thing. He wanted us to get involved in panel shows and stuff like that. So I remember thinking, ‘Maybe he’s right, maybe we should have a go at that kind of thing.’” Cornish was offered the role of team captain on a new game show called HeadJam, presented by Vernon Kay. “It was a lot of money for two days. I remember vividly thinking, ‘Ah, I need to get a new roof.

That’s that solved.’” He took the money, and if you missed the show at the time, it’s exactly as you imagine it would be. Today, Cornish’s first film, Attack the Block, is being released in cinemas amid a raft of positive reviews (and rightly so). He still works with Adam Buxton, finding themselves at home in a popular 6 Music slot on Saturday mornings. Also, as a lifelong fan of Tintin, he’s co-written the screenplay for a film version with Edgar Wright and Steven Moffat that’s been produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Steven Spielberg. It’s a long way from slumming it with Vernon Kay. The question is, where did it all go so right for Joe Cornish? Perhaps a more telling question is, why did it take so long for it all to go so right? Cornish had always wanted to be a director. “When I was a kid, I’d love making up movies. I would draw the posters. I’d write the title and come up with a tagline and the cover art and do a credit block. When I was a teenager the wall of my bedroom was papered with these made-up films.” He met Adam Buxton as 13-year-olds at Westminster School, where they shared this love of filmmaking. “We made some pretty appalling Super 8 epics. I directed them and he would star in them.” Joe went off to study film at Bournemouth University, and after that the pair reunited for their little-seen, much-loved late-night programme the Adam and Joe Show, where they assimilated their love of movies and pop culture into inventive parodies. Films were remade with stuffed toys, TV shows were spoofed with Star Wars figurines, and overly-serious arts programming was poked fun of by having Adam interview people like Pat Sharp and Handy Andy about their craft. They did anything they wanted, in other words. “We were amaz-


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We thought that the crossed-out words on Joe’s self-portrait were self-deprecating, until we heard that they were edited by members of Attack the Block’s teenage cast.

ingly lucky. We were, what, 25 or 26, and to get our own half-hour on Channel 4 was incredible. We were definitely spoiled.” The show reflected that, dizzy on its own potential. The pair didn’t realise quite how lucky they were. Then the Adam and Joe Show was cancelled and for years they bounced from place to place, unsure of how to bring their cult success to a wider audience while staying independent. They kept facing the same problems. “It’s not something they teach you at film school. The ground is always shifting. Just when you think you’ve found your safe harbour, the flipping harbourmaster will change and they’ll pull down the pier.” Eventually they found their niche in radio, taking over Ricky Gervais’ XFM show and eventually moving to 6 Music, quickly becoming one of the fledgling station’s biggest draws. Despite success, Cornish couldn’t help but think about filmmaking. Friends with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, he cameoed in Shaun of the Dead. It must have been hard to watch his friends suddenly hit so big. It wasn’t long before it affected him, though. “One of the nice things about getting older is that people who are your age rise up around you.” Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson were developing a Tintin film with Stephen Moffat, who worked on the script until he left to run Doctor Who. “They needed to find someone to take over from him and do the last few passes. So Peter Jackson called Edgar Wright, and Edgar Wright called me.” After dreaming of filmmaking since childhood, it became as easy as that. “The thing for me was just the work. I absolutely love Tintin so I wanted to do it right. I wanted to please them and make it good and do good work.” It’s that work ethic that led Cornish from the perils of the “professional funny person” circuit. As well as Tintin, he and Edgar Wright are adapt-

ing the comic book Ant Man for Universal. And then, of course, there’s Attack the Block. “When I was growing up I used to love low-budget, high-concept movies. You know: movies where directors are a bit too ambitious and they don’t quite have enough money, so they get over obstacles by being inventive and clever practically.” Ambitious is certainly the word. “We made a low budget film with eleven young actors who had never really been in front of the camera before, with creatures, with stunts, with chases, with explosions, with special effects, all shot at night. We definitely wanted to try and bite off more than we could chew.” This desire to strive beyond himself is what defines Cornish. “On Attack the Block it was all day, every day for at least 18 months. Properly all day every day—weekends, Christmas, I couldn’t go to my brother’s wedding. And the quality of the film is directly, unambiguously related to the amount of time you spend on it. You could go and have a drink instead of editing, but if you stay editing for another two hours it will be better. When the equation is that simple, of quality to time put in, there’s not much of an excuse to slack off.” The hard work has paid off. Funny, scary and thrilling, it’s surprising just how fantastic the film is, a sci-fi horror comedy that also happens to be a sensitive and insightful portrayal of contemporary poor urban Britain. It’s like the Wire meets Predator 2. After a long run of non-stop work, Cornish has returned to his 6 Music show with Adam, but other than that, the future is open. “I’ve got an idea of the thing I want to do next, but I’m completely open in terms of any other writing assignments or DIY work or children’s party entertaining.” It must be odd to be at something of a loose end. “It feels a little bit exciting, a little bit scary, and a tiny bit boring. Like life.”


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fake blood is thicker than water my first cinematic collaboration was making fake blood with my mum words jason ward illustration katie turner, photo des tan It was a new millennium and my mother was covered in blood. As usual, it was entirely my fault. I should explain: My best Christmas—aside from the year I was given a puppet of Ernie from Sesame Street—was undoubtedly the one somewhere in the middle of my long teenage malaise, when my parents got me a video camera. I dropped hints for months until finally, wonderfully, they conceded. It was a family camcorder that made everything look like the nightmares of an alcoholic VCR, but I was in raptures anyway. Oh, the Cinema I would create! That first night I made a emotional drama starring a bottle of deodorant who comes home from work to find his wife in bed with a school portrait of my friend Stephen. It was quite something. Orson Welles’ first film was Citizen Kane, by the way. Finding actual humans to act was tricky, but I was resourceful: I started making films where I played all the roles (one featuring the strangest fight scene you’ll ever see). Better still was when I persuaded a friend to lend me a bag of attic-perfumed Action Men. As a teenager without access to actors, scripts or any intellectual nuance whatsoever, I fell back on the quality that had sustained me through boyhood: violence, and lashings of it. So Action Man chased Dr X around my kitchen until finally he managed to kill him in our deep fat fryer, and an earnest adaptation of A View From the Bridge concluded abruptly when I got bored after the second scene and ended the whole thing in a gory shoot-out. These were dangerous times to be around me and inanimate. My films were improving, marginally, but they lacked something: the human touch. For that I would need blood. Blood was the ultimate prop. Anyone could get a newspaper or some food for a character to handle, but blood wasn’t so easy to come by, unless your actors were very Method. It was a sign you’d come prepared, that you were making a proper movie. It made you unpredictable. If the characters can bleed, then anything can happen to them. My only problem was that I knew nothing about making fake blood. I’d used tomato ketchup in my Arthur Miller adaptation, but ketchup could only ever look like itself. I looked online and found a wealth of recipes, but they all disagreed with each other. Overwhelmed with possibility, I turned to the person who had taken me to see Jurassic Park when I was five and thus started this whole mess: my mother. Being a person that has the co-ordination of a crayon, I had never taken to cooking, and had barely stepped foot in the kitchen except to pillage the fridge or create bizarre Action Man snuff films. It was a relief to have my mother there leading proceedings, and she was unexpectedly game. I think it surprised her as much as it did me. She has a problem-solving brain, which must have been some of the appeal. We would create batch after batch, having long debates about the correct viscosity, and how an arterial wound differed from a graze. We had to improvise, discovering that adding dashes of green and blue dye to red would create a deeper, more realistic hue. Golden syrup made a solid base, but flour had to be added to thicken the blood. I was grateful years later for this discovery of flour’s thickening properties, which has helped me immeasurably in my non-blood cooking. In a sense it was my first cinematic collaboration.

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Our quest for the perfect batch overtook us somewhat, and for a long time it was rare to enter the kitchen without a vat of blood on standby, while we filled jam jars with our middling attempts, having to borrow more jars from my grandmother when we ran out. They stacked up against the kitchen window, and it was endlessly sweet to look through them at a blood-tinted garden. It took a long time to learn that there is no Holy Grail, no one way to create good fake blood. You need different recipes for different uses: a syrup-blend looks great on a corpse, but there’s no way it’ll spurt out realistically. You’re better off dying washing-up liquid and hoping for the best. Of course, the problem with having vats of blood is that you feel impelled to use them, and so my films would inevitably feature people cutting themselves randomly on things and bleeding profusely. It was almost a relief when we ran out, and the final jars went back to my grandmother. Creating good-looking blood is one of the many skills I possess that I’ll never really need, but I’m glad it’s there, resting somewhere between quadratic equations and fish deboning. To this day my mother looks back at that period with a mixture of pride and bemusement, but they remain some of my fondest memories with her. She knew it was ridiculous, of course, but helped me anyway. I think she liked that her own skills could actively help me do the thing I was most passionate about. It was a rare opportunity, one that wouldn’t quite come again. Filmmaking was my joyous, blossoming world, but for a few weeks we could share it together. She supported me emotionally and practically, and that’s given me strength as I’ve made my way through the uncertain path of a creative life. Occasionally, I’ll see a pool of blood in a movie and think of her, and that’s a very lovely thing.


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blood, and how to make it For a substantial head wound, you will need: 30ml golden syrup 2 tsp red food colouring a dash of blue food colouring a few drops of green food colouring 2 tsp of plain flour or cornflour One. Add the red food colouring to the golden syrup. Stir until mixed, then add the blue and green food colouring. Soy sauce also does the same trick, but it’s not as good and you smell like soy sauce. Two. Fold in the plain flour, and stir until the blood is thick. If it’s looking a little clear, give it a dusting of flour and re-stir. Three. Mix with a willing friend and a strong narrative reason for bloodshed.

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I am the king of buttered toast what can you do better than anyone else? photos from the series ‘apple’ by ricor

words jason ward I don’t get along with fish. As long as they’re in the ocean and I’m not, that’s fine. It’s not that I hate them. I have no objection to their continued existence: I believe in the conservation of different species through sustainable and selective fishing, I’ve cried at oil spills, and I’m always mildly annoyed when someone claims to be a vegetarian but thinks fish don’t count. After all, I’m not inhuman. If I was, then I’d be a fish. My distaste isn’t unjustified. I spent the summer of 2004 working for Pinneys of Scotland, the Queen’s official provider of smoked salmon. Based in the Wet Fish department of their processing plant, my job was to remove the pin bones of salmon. It was a time of few friends and cheap fish. This is what would happen: a side of salmon would idle its way along a conveyor belt. I, clad in a long white coat, Wellington boots, pinny, mop cap and snood, would pick it up. I would then pull out its pin bones with a pair of pliers. The pin bones would drop into a little gutter, while the deboned side of salmon would go back onto the belt. I would then pick up another side and begin again. This would continue until about three or four in the morning, when it was time to go home. That was it. On a good day perhaps I’d be allowed to spend an hour further down the line, pulling strips of fat from the salmon, but other than that it was just me and my pliers. Here’s a conservative estimate: during that summer, I deboned about 115,200 salmon. I would dream about conveyor belts delivering endless fish. You can understand why one might become weary. Why someone would prefer that fish just stay out of his face. In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says that the key to success in a chosen field is to practice it for 10,000 hours. Bill Gates spent 10,000 hours programming computers at high school before starting Microsoft. The Beatles spent 10,000 amphetamine-fuelled hours in Hamburg honing their craft. I roughly spent about 640 hours removing the pin bones of salmon. So, okay, I’m not the Beatles of salmon deboning. Still, a hundred thousand fish has to count for something. I’m at least the Badfinger of salmon deboning. I’m good. I’m very, very good. If you were to pass me half a salmon I could remove its pin bones before you could count to ten. But that’s the problem: no one ever does. It’s like speaking a dead language, or having a superpower no-one has a need for. For all my years of education, hobbies and work, the thing that I can do better than anyone else is something that is absolutely useless to me. In the seven years that have passed since that strange, lonely summer, not a single person has asked me to remove the pin bones of a salmon, or of any fish at all, for that matter. And why would they? You buy them with the pin bones already removed (quite badly, at times: I take a peculiar pleasure in looking at shop-bought salmon and judging it on how poorly someone’s removed the pin bones). I may as well not have the skill at all. I remember vividly my disappointment last year when I visited a friend in the country who had bought a whole salmon,

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only to find when I arrived that another guest had already filleted it. Without me. Did they not understand that I am the Badfinger of pin bone removal? Maybe I’m focussing on the wrong thing. I didn’t hate the job. It took enough concentration to occupy my body, but not enough to be actually challenging. The machinery was so loud that you couldn’t have conversations, which meant you were left with your own thoughts. It was the most Zen thing I’ve ever done: essentially I spent four months standing in a cold white room, thinking. I would write in my head, racing home afterwards to type it all up. All of my protagonists worked in fish factories, but still. It nudged my other 10,000 hours that bit closer to completion. I’m grateful for that, even if part of me does yearn for the day that I will be reunited with some pliers, half a dead fish, and the opportunity for greatness.

words michael bennett I am an incorrigible maker of lists. My favourite sounds (rain), good things about being ginger (standing out in a crowd), books I’d like to read (Ender’s Game), pop songs featuring the oboe (I Got You Babe). I have a cluster of text files on my computer with titles like “five best X,” but I do it all the time, almost without thinking. I’m writing this on a train, so earlier I started making a list of favourite train journeys in my head. With all these lists, I sometimes worry that I might be a little autistic. When I put this to my mother, a former autism specialist, she seemed a bit offended. When I was 17, I entered “five things I can do better than everyone else in the world” within my list collection. I should come clean at the start and reveal that this list was as follows: One. Cutting bread Two. Buttering toast Three. Bodysurfing Four. Quoting Bob Dylan lyrics Five. Making lists of five best things As you can see, I took a lot of pride in toast. I was forced to reduce this list to four when my aunt pointed out that we could reasonably assume Bob Dylan is better at quoting his own lyrics than I am. This was quite a blow, which I recovered from only when I declared myself best in the world


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on my obscure dissertation topic a few years later. My number three on this list is also pretty optimistic, but I’m keeping it there until I actually see someone better, or hear that there’s a proper competition for it somewhere. The appeal of the idea is, I think, pretty obvious. In a world of billions of people, it’s hard to claim supremacy in anything. There’s certainly no chance of winning in an objective category, like the 100m sprint, and even in something subjective, like playing the oboe, the competition will be insurmountable. Supremacy in this kind of thing is like winning the lottery: theoretically it has to be someone, but for practical purposes it just doesn’t happen. So it’s pretty difficult to be the best at something, and that’s why it’s interesting to try, even if the obvious moral of the story that it’s foolish to compete and compare so much. You could of course try engineering a bizarre world record—most ping-pong balls held in one hand while unicycling, for instance—but that seems a lot of effort to prove a point. The solution, I think, is to pick things that people rarely compare each other on, or things that are very much a matter of personal taste. I like this answer, because the things that make life worthwhile, like toast, aren’t usually the things that people compete on, and they tend to be very specific and personal. The best response to the question I’ve heard was from my cousin, when she declared she was the world champion in the category, “putting up with my sister’s crap.” The key thing in cutting bread is to cut the right thickness for what you’re having on top of it, and to always leave a perfectly right-angled loaf for the person who follows you. Then I aim to butter the toast fast enough so it’s all melted in and still warm when I eat it. To this end, I like to have all the knobs of butter ready to place straight on the bread when it comes out of the toaster, and there’s nothing I hate more than someone interrupting me in the middle of this process. I have a feeling this is all just making the autism thing sound more plausible, but if you’re going to make toast you should do it right.

words ellie phillips I am better at identifying London bus routes than anyone in the world. My partner finds this talent unsettling and disturbing. He says my encyclopaedic knowledge of London connections is the least attractive thing about me. I argue that its usefulness outweighs the freakishness.

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After all, if you are stuck in Ealing Broadway at 3 am without a minicab in sight and you’re with me, then you will swiftly find yourself on an N7 to Russell Square and thence into town and civilisation. Unless you are travelling with me, you may not have considered the pros and cons of the N26 versus the N8. You may not appreciate that the N8 actually goes slightly closer to Victoria Park than the N26 and that it’s also quicker although more congested. So I could advise you that if you would like a seat and don’t mind a longer walk then the N26 is your better bet, but if you’re in a hurry then it’s the N8 that you need. Transport for London’s Journey Planner has nothing on me. I like nothing better than to discover a new route. In fact, the recent creation of the 425 was one of the happiest days of my life. I fairly skipped home bursting with the news that there was a new bus to take us all to Stratford. I was met by a wall of silence and then by the perfectly reasonable though joyless question, “But why do we all want to go to Stratford?” Of course the answer to this seemed reasonable too, “Because we can, that’s why!” After all, in my view a new route creates a new need, not the other way around. I take part of my inspiration from the Night Bus Man who used to stand at Trafalgar Square (perhaps he still does?) directing late-night revellers to their routes home. Oh how we loved that man! “Didn’t we love that man?” I say to my partner. “Yes,” he says, “but most people didn’t want to be that man.” My sister tells me she shares my bus fetish. We decide that its origins lie in the fact that where we grew up there was only one bus, and I can’t help but tell you that it was the 410 that went to Redhill. Rather, it was meant to go to Redhill, if it had ever come, but in my memory it never did. So the idea of being able to get some place simply by hopping on a bus holds more than a little charm for me. Mainly I just love the end result of finding the right route: the satisfaction when you stand at the stop in the freezing night air, and you see the cosy flash of red coming over the distant brow of the hill and your heart leaps with joy. You have found your ride and it’s coming to take you home.

words liz bennett Being the best in the world is the domain of obsessives and superheroes. I find obsessiveness charming like a foreign city: it’s fun to observe but not fun to stay there forever. There’s something endearingly geeky about a small task done very thoroughly. Perhaps I find it reassuring. Or perhaps I just enjoy feeling free and superior.


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Watching my housemate fry eggs is an apt moment for observing obsessiveness. It tickles me every time. His eggs aren’t fried, he says, so much as poached in warm butter. He uses a pan he ordered from Switzerland for this purpose. About a third of the way through the cooking time, he covers the pan with a lid, so that the tops of the eggs cook through and the bottoms don’t burn. He can tell when they’re cooked without lifting the lid. Then he grabs a sheet of kitchen roll, tips the eggs onto a plate and, keeping the pan vertical, soaks up the melted butter from the lower edge. The sequence is nearly perfect. With a few more years, his eggs would perhaps be in the running for the best in the world, if a not-quite-fried-but-poached-in-butter egg is what you’re after. I’ll never be in the running for anything of the sort. I don’t wipe pans out with kitchen roll, so sometimes the fat trickles down the outside and burns on the bottom. I leave cups lying around. Sometimes I type with sticky fingers. Very occasionally I leave scraps of fingernail on the arms of armchairs and forget about them when there are guests coming round. The edges of my life are untidy: I have flashes of competence, but for such a challenge they are a lacklustre collection. The coffee I make is good, but all I can say for sure is that it’s better than my mother’s. I always sleep like someone who’s been concussed, but am outclassed by my dad, who as a boy slept through a police raid. I will never be a superhero, it seems, even of something small. I really couldn’t care. Being the best has always seemed to me a boring, numerical thing. Coming top of the class at school made me feel exposed and uneasy, and superheroes are uneasy, lonely people. I’ve never really understood the appeal of the superman, either as a character or an aspiration. There’s too much saving the world, too much superhero angst. If you alone can save the world, that’s a fact to keep you awake at night. It outweighs the thrill of running up walls ten to one. But from decade to decade, superheroes don’t go away. They still loom tritely on the landscape of the imagination. They save the world again and again. Perhaps there is a dark truth at the heart of their persistence. Perhaps they express on a sky-sized canvas something we’ve all felt in miniature. I mean the lonely feeling of knowing that something is down to you alone. A short life tells you that to do the right thing by those most dear to you is a superhero-sized task. After all this, I am a superhero in my own world and cannot escape it. Good or bad or in between, I am best in the world—and alone.

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every dog needs a walk portraits of dog walkers from around the world portrait mary furlong

I once lived in a Moscow tower block for six months, and one of the things that got me through the very cold winter was getting to know the local dog owners. The elderly lady with who kept an energetic and over-fed terrier. The tall, hunched man with four tall greyhounds. The pushy woman who kept a tiny, yapping dog that barely left tracks in the snow, it was so light. Dog walking is a pastime that’s shared by lots of people. In praise of this gentle, stressful and necessary labour of love, we asked four photographers to take a portrait of a dog walker local to them. The photo opposite is of Fionnuala Gately in Wexford, Ireland, with her children Oran, Caoilinn and Siúin, and her dogs: Markievicz, a rottweiler; Oisín, the black labrador; Pippin and Meg, springers; Alannah, a golden labrador; and Hans, a pointer. All the dogs are rescue dogs.

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london, england portrait amy tinkler Emma with her dogs Dolly and Luca in Richmond Park. Emma goes to the park every day.

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wexford, ireland portrait mary furlong Sarah and her dogs George and Lucy. She is in her first year of secondary school.

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oslo, norway portrait marius ektvedt Stian Hagfors, an architect, with Jim, a fox terrier.

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st petersburg, russia portrait egor rogalev Julia with her three rescue dogs Pusha, Borik and Venya. She says: “Borik lived in a flat with fifty other dogs with an old woman for ten years. She didn’t walk the dogs or clean up after them, and only fed them white bread. All the dogs suffered from physical and mental abuse. They were all rescued and after four months I found a home for Borik, but he kept running away from the family. So I’ve taken him back and he lives with me now. “Venya was found in St Petersburg, and a Finnish family decided to adopt her. But it turned out she has bad vision and mammary gland tumours. The family was afraid to take in an ill dog, so I’ve got her now. We’ve become attached to each other. “Pusha was found lying in some bushes in the countryside without any fur. It turned out that she had ascaris, and a year of medication really helped. She stayed with me because we’ve gone through a lot together.”


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love like poison katell quillévéré’s bittersweet film debut is about discovering sexuality in catholic rural france words jason ward, portrait des tan

Have you ever tried to sum up someone you know in a few words? It’s tough. To a man, we’re a mess of contradictions, lies and wonders, and to pretend otherwise is folly. And yet I’ve just spent many minutes of my life trying to encapsulate Katell Quillévéré. There’s biographical: French. Writer. Director. Debut. Woman. These are all right, but not right enough. The adjectives: Beguiling. Tough. Wary. Weary. Engaged. Thoughtful. Again, there’s nothing untrue, but it’s not enough. They’re all just a shade. Here’s what I settled on, and it’s a bit of a cheat: wholehearted.

“What is based on reality is the journey that Anna goes on in relation to her faith,” Katell says. Anna’s pious existence is questioned when she realises that her religion forbids her burgeoning sexuality, something Katell identifies with. “It is very difficult for a teenager discovering her own sexuality to have to deal with Catholic teaching. In Catholicism you have a particular relationship with the body and with guilt. It’s a relationship of conflict that goes back to the dawn of time. Love Like Poison is a film that suggests that rather than managing your body, you can be your body. You can embody it.”

There’s something about Katell that’s all-encompassing, both in her film and in person. She eats sugar cubes whole. She has a full-throated laugh. She’s just so French. And there's this: “I would like to make each film as if it were the one and only I’d ever made.” After watching Katell’s debut Love Like Poison, it’s hard not to understand what she means. It’s like she’s a soaked towel, and everything that she’s wrung out of herself is the film. What appears on the surface to be a typical coming-of-age drama about a fourteen-year-old girl in a sleepy Breton town is a pointed rejection of Catholicism, depicting it as a morally corrupting, perverting presence. It’s sad, lovely and quietly daring. It's one of the most promising debuts of recent years.

She was dismayed at how little has changed since she went through the same experiences as Anna. She tells a story about a church she visited when researching the film, “It’s full every week to a thousand people and instilling guilt. It’s a violent act.” This is why she set out to create something modern. “I always wanted to set it in the present because it does have a contemporary dimension. I wanted to talk about young people today.”

Love Like Poison is also a sexually frank, emotionally honest story of adolescent awakening. Anna, an impressive Clara Augarde, grows close to an atheist choirboy, and they discover sex in a way that is both unashamed and yet horribly fumbling and awkward. It feels real, in other words. Katell was keen to avoid either idolising teen sex or being alarmist about it. “I tried to be as honest and as truthful as possible and didn’t want to portray today’s youth as very liberated when it comes to sex. I don’t think it’s true. For me, sexuality is something that frightens everybody and is hard for everybody and the idea that you’re going to give yourself up to somebody else is very, very scary.” It’s a refreshing perspective, considering how culture usually portrays teenage sexuality. She points out, “In France, people are terribly worried that the attitude of young people towards sex is decadent and that everybody’s doing it, but in fact the average age at which people lose their virginity in France is seventeen, as it has been for the last thirty years. It hasn’t gone up or down.” It’s the personal truthfulness that makes Love Like Poison invigorating. Katell is anxious to point out that the film is not autobiographical, but it’s hard to believe its events have no relation to her. It has the quality of a painful memory, filled with scores of moments that feel true, rather than the product of a narrative. This is perhaps a greater achievement than a straight memoir. The film captures how boring and magical it is to be fourteen.

Katell’s insistence on the film’s status as fiction is unsurprising considering its uncompromising look at Anna’s family. Her blossoming sexuality awakens different reactions in each: fear, anger, even attraction. “They’re all at a point in their life when they have to rethink and reassess. It’s a film about crises, not just the classic adolescent puberty crisis, but that these difficult things reappear throughout your life.” Anna’s puberty doesn’t just affect her, but illuminates the compromises and regrets of an adult world. This hints at something deeper and unspoken in Katell. She discusses her family’s fears at having an artist in the family, and her relief when the film was wellreceived at Cannes, as it meant her family could be pleased about it. “If the film hadn’t done well, it would have been much harder for me.” She admits that they haven’t spoken to her about the film’s content, which she expected. “It’s too difficult for them, too complicated, and I respect that.” It would be a shame if Katell’s relations haven’t reflected on the film, as you get the feeling that they’re the ones who it’s ultimately for. There’s an understanding, if not quite forgiveness, towards her family and the complications of her youth, even if those complications are different to those in the film. Love Like Poison is a film about the past made by someone who has managed to let go of it. She’s not advocating a violent rebellion. “Anna’s journey is not explosive. She winds her way towards where she’s going. That’s how my generation had to find its own way and its own voice, unlike the generation of my parents—the strikes of 1968 and all those upheavals. Today it is not so much a matter of taking sides. The film is in a sense saying: become yourself. It’s trying to say that you need to learn to speak your own truth and to do it gently.”


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Andrew Logan in his studio. He threw a royal wedding party, and it was between cups of tea and celebratory red velvet cake that I asked him for a self-portrait. I handed him a pencil, but he picked out a huge gold pen instead and sketched this out for us, opposite.


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how to wear an orange suit and get away with it andrew logan’s alternative world words rosanna durham, portrait kevin morosky

When I visited Andrew Logan in December, there was a Christmas tree hanging from the ceiling. It was a usual tree in other ways, decked with tinsel and baubles. All the more surprising, then, to see it floating in the corner of his studio. In its creative and strange way, the hanging Christmas tree sums up what Andrew Logan’s art is about. Part of it is performance and theatre that surprises people and makes them smile. But there’s also a practical and grounded element. After all, if your room is a bit crowded, it’s a sensible idea to hang your tree up. As it happens, free space has all but run out in Andrew’s studio. Works of art surprise you from every corner. Obscure areas of wall space are used to store his sculptures. He deliberately blurs the boundaries between home and studio. “I surround myself with my work,” Andrew explains, “because you see things that spark off another idea.” The house is a cocktail of everyday domestic objects, transformed into colourful mini sculptures. A huge teapot in the kitchen is covered with glass beads and mosaics. A picture frame in the dining room is shaped like a plate of fish and chips, with mushy peas made out of bobbled green glass, and fried tomatoes in a mosaic of red mirror. “It’s wonderful stuff, the mirror and glass,” says Andrew, of his favourite art materials. “I’ve become more and more obsessed with them.” He began using them forty years ago, making small glass collages when he was meant to be studying for an architecture degree. “Originally I started using it because it had a sparkle to it. It’s like playing with light.” Today he still enjoys finding new ways to use glass and mirror, making people think again about the materials. He’s just completed a huge installation in Chennai, India, which is a 44-foot wide sculpture of a swarm of bees. Closer to home is Andrew’s Millennium Pegasus sculpture, on a roundabout near Birmingham. It’s a giant winged horse cast in bronze, with a 15-foot wingspan of glittering glass. It was commissioned by Dudley Borough Council to decorate a motorway interchange. “To have a proper look at it,” he says, “you have to take your life in your own hands and race around the roundabout, with all these cars going round.” The locals love it, and have even given it a nickname. “They’ve christened it Pegasus Island! Peg’s Island for short.”

For Andrew, a sign of a job well done is when people fall in love with his sculpture, and enjoy it while they’re driving around the suburbs. “My message is a celebration of life. It’s about joy. I want to make people smile when they’re going down the street so they think, ‘What a wonderful thing to do.’” For all his liveliness and pop aesthetic, you would be wrong to think Andrew chases notoriety. He may wear an orange suit, but he knows how to pull it off. His first brush with fame in 1970 effectively inoculated him from it. He had just graduated from architecture school and his first exhibition gained huge media exposure. “After the show, the hype suddenly crashed. That was it. There was no money and I had nowhere to go. I’d never had that exposure before. And I thought, well the newspaper’s quite good for toilet paper, eventually.” Andrew’s mother relished the success more than he did. “My mum collected everything. I’ve got boxes downstairs of all the old clippings she kept. Which is lovely. That’s love, you see!” But in the end, celebrity seemed a hollow and frothy pursuit. Andrew’s best-known work of art is rather a parody of showbiz desperation: the Alternative Miss World beauty pageant. It’s a beauty pageant where everyone is invited to take part. Participants, dressed in outrageous costume, enter daywear, swimwear and personality contests. It’s a celebration of transformation, “a surreal art event for all the family,” as Andrew calls it. It started off as an excuse for a party between friends, back in 1972. Andrew had just been to the Crufts Dog Show and got inspired to create his own pageant. “Miss World was big in the UK and I’d just been to this dog show,” he explains. “I still had the registration form and badge on me. I was sitting round with friends and we decided to have this party.” The Alternative Miss World still runs today, every four years or so, in different venues across London. It goes to the heart of what tickles Logan. The title of a recent documentary on the show was the British Guide to Showing Off, and it suits him perfectly. “I think I’ve always enjoyed showing off!” says Andrew. He’s an unashamedly happy person and wants you to be as well. “If you are doing things, have a good time.”


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what do you want to be when you grow up? we asked people in bath about their first jobs and the jobs they dream of doing photos francesca jane allen

Jo: “My first job was a goat feeder! I’d like to be a cat lady.”

Alex: “I was a trolley boy in a supermarket. I want to be an actor some day.”

Sammy: “I was a children’s party organiser. I got fired after two weeks. My dream job is a stuntman.”

Chloe: “I’ve never had a job! I want to be a fiction writer.”

Tom: “I was an assistant in a newsagent. I’d love to be a full-time musician.“


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Allie: “I worked in a tea shop for my first job. I would love to own an art gallery.”

Daniela: “My first job was a newspaper round. I hope to be a child psychologist.”

Hannah: “Working in a clothes shop was my first job. I really don’t know what my dream job would be at the moment.”

Joe: “I worked in a corner shop. I’d like to work in advertising and animation.”

Jessica: “I was a checkout assistant at Tesco. I hated it. I fancy being an EastEnders actress.”

Kat: “For my first job, I worked at a roller disco. My dream job would be a ballet teacher.”


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my cardboard lens how to make a matchbox camera words and photos alex thornber A couple of Christmases ago, my aunt gave me a build-your-own box pinhole camera. So on Christmas day I built the box, read the manuals, and developed my first pinhole photos. They were terrible. You couldn’t see anything, except perhaps an outline of a ghost, and only if you had an active imagination. And that was it, my journey into pinhole photography starting and finishing on a winter’s afternoon. That was until a few months later, when I stumbled upon Pinhole Photography Day on Flickr. People were uploading images taken with pinholes they had made from all sorts of junk, so I was inspired to give it another go. I put my previous bad experience down to the fact that the box took paper film, a rather experienced photographers’ tool. These new pinholes used regular 35mm film, which is pretty much foolproof.


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You can see the leaky results of his first attempts at the top. Photos were taken on the cameras below them.

square matchbox camera I used the instructions on matchboxpinhole.com, more or less to the letter. The building was pretty easy, except that I had a blunt x-acto knife and a somewhat dull pin and I cut myself on the piece of tin. As a result, the frame of the images was all rough and fluffy and the pinhole wasn’t smooth and flat, but torn and protruding. And my finger hurt. I took the whole roll on one very sunny day, because it takes less time to expose the film in bright sunlight. I took photos indoors, outdoors; I took portraits and still lifes, and then rushed to the supermarket to get the film developed. This is what I got back. The shots are blurry, the edges are tunnelled and you can clearly see the handiwork of my blunt x-acto knife, but I was incredibly surprised

that it worked. I hadn’t taped it up enough, though, because there were fire-like streaks of red through most of the shots. When I looked back at the negatives, the light leak wasn’t all the way along so it must have been a really gentle leak that only affected the film between shots. I also learned that, no matter how sunny it is, a pinhole camera can never be used like a hand-held. You always need to rest it on a surface or a tripod. I loved every single image. I loved seeing the mistakes I made and seeing what their effects were on the image. After that, I was hooked. It was really surprising that the camera I had made wasn’t very neat and wasn’t very tidy, yet it still came out with something. I think that’s what made it immediately so exciting and interesting to me, the fact that you can make it a little bit slap-dash and it still works.

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panoramic camera This was from a DIY kit for a panoramic pinhole camera. The film development guy at ASDA doesn’t like me very much because this camera gives you an image which is too wide for their scanner to scan. I also went on an experimentation spree last summer and made my own red-scale film. That’s where you shoot the picture through the back of the film. The image goes through the wrong side and the whole image is cast in reds and oranges. Because it’s the other way round to regular film when it comes out, the technician tried to correct it and broke the film scanner.


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pinhole with three aperture sizes

hacked holga

I made this camera with three different-sized apertures. The aperture is the size of the hole that lets the light in, so having three different apertures gives you more freedom to change things. In combination with different shutter speeds, you get different effects. If you use a really wide aperture, you can use a short shutter speed, which is good for scenes in the dark, but the depth of crisp focus is diminished. So you can use the effects to tailor your photograph.

You can use any object to make a pinhole. This is a Holga that I hacked. All of my pinholes have worked so far, but there are different degrees of working. I made a matchbox this weekend and took twenty or thirty photos and ASDA only gave me ten back, so I need to look at my negatives to see what went wrong. Every photo from every camera has its own charm because so many variables can affect the outcome. I’ve seen people use mint tins and cereal boxes. My girlfriend is making one out of a beer can. You can do it out of anything, really. I’ve seen people using a checkerboard pattern for the mask, and lots of things like that. I think the charm is unlimited experimentation. Some might not come out but that doesn’t matter too much.

I thought if I used a pinhole like that, I could take photos indoors or at night without having to hold it still for five minutes. With some pinholes you have to hold them still for hours in some conditions.

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We were pleased to see Mr Greenwood’s excellent moustache make an appearance in his self-portrait.

it’s a real sweet story hope and greenwood and the alchemy of sugar interview frances ambler, portrait des tan

Hope and Greenwood’s sweet shops are like a childhood dream. “People say it reminds them of shops when they were little and I think, no, it never looked this beautiful. It’s a kind of dream world.” Miss Hope, one of the proprietors, is talking about the escapist world they conjure up through their shops and splendid confectionery products. “Those shops were always a bit grubby, staffed by grumpy people with a living room off the back. Ours is a rose-tinted view.”

Looking around, it seems that more than a dusting of it has gathered on the sweet shop shelves. But behind the sparkle, there’s a solid foundation of shared passion, astutely applied. You just need to watch Miss Hope’s eyes light up when Mr Greenwood tells her about the limited edition Love Hearts being produced for the Royal Wedding to see her love of sweets, British traditions and a good sales opportunity. They’ve also developed their own red, white and bluestriped Hope and Glory Mint Ball in honour of the occasion.

Step inside either of their London shops and you’ll be greeted by smiling shop boys and girls, offering, in their words, one-to-one service and real old-fashioned values. The shelves are stacked high with over 400 different sweets, including old favourites like Swizzle’s Refresher Chews and Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls. There are also Hope and Greenwood’s own beautifully-packaged products, which specialise in updates on British traditions: think spotted-dick flavoured chocolate bars or, Hope’s current favourite, rose and violet creams.

A celebration of all things British is at the heart of the shop’s ethos. The most stringent test for any sweet is whether it would have been at home in Hope’s Aunt Mary’s pantry. “I’m a complete and utter anglophile,” says Hope. While it’s now rather fashionable to go down to Norfolk on your holidays, Hope and Greenwood were among the first to champion it. Hope says, “We’re very much proud to be British. I don’t know why people were ever ashamed to say they were.”

This particular brand of nostalgia is reinforced by Miss Hope and Mr Greenwood themselves. The couple are a great British mixture of sauce and sweetness. Miss Hope’s retro tea dresses, heels and one-liners are complimented by Mr Greenwood’s expertly-teased moustache and, as Miss Hope ribs him constantly, a penchant for “redheads with big tits.”

Greenwood himself comes from a family in that most British of professions, the greengrocer, and its business nose has served him well. “My family have always been pretty much working for themselves,” he says. “The entrepreneurial spirit has always been there. I watched my father build a business from scratch. This is a natural progression for me.”

They so embody their shop, it’s not hard to see why one customer decided to turn up on their doorstep to raise an issue about the shop’s paper bags. Despite the fact they are now distributed across the world, friends still pop into the shop on occasion and are surprised not to find them propping up the counter.

Theirs is a charming story, one in which the apparent ease of accomplishment hides the years of underlying hard work. “It’s an overnight success that’s taken twenty years,” they say. The balance between the pair keeps the business going. “People say she’s the engine, he’s the brakes,” says Greenwood. “She’s the driving force and I’m controlling what’s going on. It’s a balance. It takes two different people to make something work.”

Conjuring up magical worlds is something of a speciality. Hope’s description of their Norfolk holidays summons images straight from a children’s adventure story. “We go crabbing,” she says eagerly, “and head down to the beach with our camp stove and make sausage sandwiches.” It’s no surprise, then, to find that she used to work as a children’s book illustrator. Like telling a good children’s story, Hope and Greenwood swear by a “sprinkling of pixie dust” as the basis of their success.

These days, Miss Hope’s mother sometimes pops into Fenwick’s in Newcastle and rearranges the Hope and Greenwood display—an attention to detail worthy of her daughter. “My mum would never say, ‘I’m proud.’ She’s old school and would find it difficult to say that. But I think she’s very, very…” She trails off. “Mr G’s dad is probably just looking down and making sure the till is ringing.”

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do-it-yourself pic ‘n’ mix try out three of hope and greenwood’s classic sweets taste test beth davis and nicola robey, photo jack johns We asked our two intrepid taste testers to spend an afternoon stirring sugar and whipping egg whites to try out this trio of recipes from Hope and Greenwood’s new recipe book, Life is Sweet. Beth brought her selection along to the office and every one of us overate on the peanut brittle and ended up feeling a little sugar-high. They were delicious, though, and our friends may well be getting hand-wrapped homemade sweets at all future present-giving occasions.

Peanut brittle is the easiest of the sweets to make, Beth and Nicola agreed: basically just boiling sugary things and butter together until they reach the right temperature. Then there’s the satisfying moment of breaking it up into shards of hard toffee. Nicola said, “Although it takes the longest to reach its staggering temperature, it’s worth it, especially when you smash it to pieces with a hammer or the heel of a shoe.”

You will need a sugar thermometer to give these a go, but they’re cheaper than you might think, at about a fiver.

Both Turkish delight batches were indeed delightful, although one turned out a little jelly-like in consistency. Be careful to keep it at the right temperature throughout the simmering. Beth said, “20 minutes into the ‘gently plopping’ stage of making, my textbook wallpaper paste suddenly started singeing horribly and looking as though it wouldn’t be delighting anyone in the near future. In the name of research I decided to carry on anyway and I’m glad I did, as the eventual result smelled and, dare I say, tasted amazing!”

For the marshmallows, an electric whisk is pretty much essential. Nicola whisked her marshmallows by hand and roped in her flatmates to help, but this is not a method for the faint-hearted. Beth’s mallows gained a slight sand-in-the-sandwiches type of sugary crunch somehow, but it was actually a rather nice accidental innovation. She said, “These were definitely my favourite to make in that they involved scientific reactions and whipping egg whites and sugar into the most pleasing glossy pink substance I have ever seen.”

Life is Sweet has 50 or so sweet things to try by Hope and Greenwood, and is published by Ebury Publishing.


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proper peanut brittle This makes 20 nutty shards. You will need groundnut oil, for greasing 350g shelled unsalted peanuts 400g granulated sugar 100g soft brown sugar 150ml golden syrup 100g butter 150ml water ¼ level tsp bicarbonate of soda One. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Lightly oil a 20 x 30cm toffee tin at least 2.5cm deep. Two. Scatter the peanuts onto another baking sheet and place them in the oven for 10 minutes until golden. Take care not to let them burn.

Three. Pop both sugars, the golden syrup, butter and water into a deep, heavy-bottomed pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Four. Put a sugar thermometer in the pan and bring the mixture to the boil. Boil very gently for at least 30 minutes, probably more, until your sugar thermometer reaches 149°C. It will seem like forever, but don’t be tempted to turn up the heat as the toffee will burn very easily. Five. Add the bicarbonate of soda and roasted peanuts and watch out as the mixture bubbles up to the top of the pan like Vesuvius. Remove from the heat. Six. Carefully pour the toffee into the prepared tin and leave to cool. Once cool, attack the toffee with your toffee hammer, breaking it into lumps. If you have not invested in a toffee hammer, you will have to stick a screw driver into it to break it up. This is quite tricky, but makes a satisfying noise.

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rose and pistachio turkish delight This makes 30 rosy jellies. You will need groundnut oil, for greasing 900g granulated sugar 1 tbsp lemon juice 175g cornflour 1 tsp cream of tartar 2 tbsp rose syrup 2–3 drops pink food colouring 100g shelled pistachios icing sugar and cornflour, to dust One. Line a 20cm square baking tin 4cm deep on all sides with baking parchment and lightly oil it with groundnut oil. Two. Place the sugar, lemon juice and 340ml of water in a pan and put it over a low heat. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring it to the boil without stirring and slowly, using your sugar thermometer, bring the mixture up to 118°C. This will take about 15 minutes. Three. Meanwhile, in a separate pan (this one must be really deep

and truly heavy bottomed), place the cornflour, 570ml cold water and the cream of tartar. Give the mixture a good stir and place over a low heat. Four. Keep stirring so that there are no lumps (it’s like making cheese sauce). Bring to the boil and beat quickly until the mixture looks like wallpaper paste. Take it off the heat. Five. Place the cornflour mixture back on the heat. As soon as the sugar mixture has reached 118°C, pour it over the cornflour mixture. Stir it well—it will look like an ocean of icebergs—and if any lumps persist, whisk them out with a metal whisk. Keeping the heat low, bring the mixture to a geyser-plopping simmer. Let it simmer like this for an hour. Six. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the rose syrup, the pink food colouring and the pistachio nuts. This will turn the colour from a strange and unappetising yellow to a pleasant pink. Pour the pink blubber into the prepared tin and leave the Turkish Delight to cool and set overnight. Seven. Once set, cut it into squares and dust with equal amounts of icing sugar and cornflour sifted together.


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mallows d’amour This recipe makes around 25 marshmallows. You will need icing sugar and cornflour, to dust 450g granulated sugar 1 tbsp liquid glucose 1 sachet of powdered gelatine 3 tbsp rose syrup 5–6 drops of pink food colouring 2 large egg whites crystallised rose petals, to decorate One. Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking parchment 4cm deep and, using a sieve, shake equal amounts of icing sugar and cornflour over the base until the parchment is lightly dusted.

boiled water (following the instructions on the packet), making sure it has dissolved properly. Add the rose syrup and the pink food colouring to the dissolved gelatine. Four. When the syrup reaches the correct temperature, remove the pan from the heat and remove the sugar thermometer. Pour the dissolved gelatine into the syrup. Be careful, it will bubble and spit and rise to the top of the pan. Five. Whisk the egg whites together until stiff using a food mixer or electric whisk. Still whisking, slowly add the syrup and gelatin mixture to the eggs. With the mixer or whisk on a fast setting, whisk for a further 25-30 minutes until the mixture is thick, shiny and holding its shape reasonably well on the whisk.

Two. Put the sugar, glucose and 200ml of water into a heavy bottomed pan and give it a quick stir. Place your sugar thermometer in the pan, bring the liquid to a gentle boil and continue cooking for about 25–30 minutes until it reaches 127°C on the thermometer.

Six. Spoon the mallow mixture into the dusted tin and leave it to set for about two hours. Dust a second piece of parchment with equal amounts of icing sugar and cornflour. Turn the mallow out onto the paper. Dust a heart-shaped cutter with cornflour and icing sugar and cut the mallow into heart shapes. Dust the cut edges and leave to dry on a wire rack.

Three. While you are waiting, sprinkle the gelatine over 100ml of

Seven. Scatter the mallows with crystallised rose petals.

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follow your feet it’s time to fall back in love with being lost words jane flett, illustration clare owen We used to have a Sunday ritual where we’d board the first bus heading south from Edinburgh, regardless of its destination. It was important to get the right seats—front row/top deck, of course—as from there we could survey our options until a particular suburban street tickled our fancy to ding the bell and disembark. We’d then scavenge the streets like truffle pigs for life’s small pleasures: cantankerous pubs with whisky discounts for OAPs; stretches of river strewn with broken-wheeled trolleys; boarded-up shops with parochial graffiti; betting shops that reeked of dubious tracksuit bottom stains. We had no idea where we were or what particulars we sought, we just knew that it was fun to be aimless. To embrace the art of getting lost. Getting lost takes nerve and talent. It’s one thing to learn to read a map, to traverse the maze of city streets and return home with the landmarks checked off, but it’s quite another to wilfully commit to striding out purposelessly towards nothing. There is dedication in embarking on travels without the faintest flicker of pre-planning, abandoning yourself to wherever the random fall of feet takes you. It is where the fun starts. In the off-kilter and the dead ends, when you slip through the fissure and find you are in the midst of a street you’ve never trodden before, heading in a direction you cannot fathom. That’s when the crazies sneak up on you, when you flash your vulnerability to the fore, when you’re forced to ask the snarling bartender for directions only to end up in a six-hour whisky session with a banjo player with three teeth left. It can be difficult to surrender yourself to the lure of the lost. There is a temptation to console yourself with a trail of crumbs, marking the way through the woods lest you later need to escape. It is a primal human fear that comes from a perfectly sensible place, from when getting lost really meant getting lost: lost in the forests, lost in the mountains, lost in the Russian tundras as night capsizes and you realise you have no biscuits left. In such cases there is prudence in maps and compasses, but when we are ensconced in the certainty of cities it would do us good sometimes to let this urge go. The French, throughout history, have been particularly successful in embracing this attitude. Baudelaire exulted the flâneur as someone who understood the purpose to the saunter, someone who was “a person who walks the city in order to experience it.” The flâneur is the antithesis to the map-reader who walks nose-to-page to his destination. For the flâneur, the route and the end location serve no purpose other than as a medium through which the journey can be lived. To get lost happily, you need to suspend the notion of purpose to your walk, abandon your appointments, delve wholeheartedly into disorientation. If you know what lies left, turn right; if you can find your internal compass by the sun, wear sunglasses. Leave your iPhone at home and pick your path by foolish and arbitrary methods: toss a coin, spin a bottle, follow street names alphabetically, choose the gate that smells the sweetest, pick a pedestrian to follow clandestinely until you look up and discover you are, finally, lost. This is the point, just past the first panic, when you accept you truly have no clue where you are going, and you like it. Paradoxically, the knowledge that you are definitely lost can offer the comfort and the liberation to act however you please. So start out devoid of a destination and head towards nowhere. That way, you can’t fail to find somewhere at least.


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issue seven is out in july In Hampstead, London, there’s a pub called the Freemason’s Arms. It’s a gastropub, with a nice wine list and king prawns on the menu. That’s upstairs. Downstairs, in the cellar, players gather every Tuesday for a game of London Skittles. It’s the last place in the world where anyone plays London Skittles. The game only has eight regular players left. So if you live in Hampstead, give it a go some time. You might like it. Max Knight went along and took this beautiful photograph of Peter Greene, the organiser, and a game in progress. We got fascinated by the world of English pub games. It’s full of strange rules, curious histories and intricate wooden equipment. They have names like Aunt Sally, Dwile Flonking and Devil Amongst the Tailors. In the next issue, we talk to people who play the games that no one outside their county has even heard of.

subscribe To get a fresh copy of oh comely arriving through your letterbox every two months, you can take out a subscription. It’s £18 for a year, and you’ll get six issues. Visit ohcomely.co.uk/subscribe to buy one online. Alternatively, you can write down your order and post us a cheque made out to Adeline Media to the address on the back of the magazine.


What will you create today?

Halfpenny Home Haberdashery

www.halfpennyhome.co.uk


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sole survivor how hard can it be to make your own shoes? words rosanna durham illustrations laura callaghan


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Shoes used to be a touchy subject for me. About fifteen years ago, shopping for shoes was like visiting a shop of horrors. The problem was, I hated my feet. They do the job, but they are very bony and don’t make pleasant viewing. And they’re big enough that I often have to wear men’s shoes. So when a polite but overbearing shop assistant would ask me to try a shoe for size, I would shrink away. Times have changed, and when a friend recently told me that my toes looked like aliens, I smiled. Still, I considered shoe-making a chance to face some shoe-shaped ghosts. I discovered many more exotic ways of making shoes than I cared to try. I was fascinated to read, for example, that in the 18th century, inhabitants on the remote Scottish island St Kilda used the skin of gannet birds for their shoes. The history of moccasins is also fascinating. They were traditionally made from deer skin and enabled the wearer to feel the texture of the ground, while still protecting his feet. I tried three sorts of homemade shoes, and one pair of proper shoes. The pairs are now assembled in a neat row at home. Unfortunately, the homemade ones look rather like a shop of horrors, with loose threads and dodgy seams. Perhaps some things don’t ever change.

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pimp your booties

homemade moccasins

These are not new shoes, just old boots with bits cut out of them. But giving old boots new life is a whole lot easier than starting from scratch, and just as fun. They’re a shoe-making holiday!

What simpler way to make shoes than sewing together pieces of sheepskin? Many things, it turns out. The pair I’ve constructed have dangling threads and wobbly stitching. I even resorted to sewing a red star on the vamp to distract from the scab-like structure of their edging. They also lack the ankle flaps you’ll find in the pattern above. Beautiful they are not. Instead, homemade moccasins are warm and comfy, which makes all the hard work worthwhile and cosy to live with.

You will need old leather boots sharp knife with a short, thin blade biro liquid boot polish, or black acrylic paint paintbrush One. Remove the laces and give the boots a dust. Two. With a biro, draw out the cuts you’re going to make on the boots. Pay close attention to the toes of the boots—you don’t want one of your toes to poke out when the rest are under cover. Three. Using a sharp knife, cut along your biro lines. This can be quite hard work, depending on the thickness and finish of the leather. Work on the instep of the boot first, so any initial mistakes are less visible later. I made small cuts at first, then enlarged them later when I was more confident using the knife. Four. After you’ve cut the boot down to you liking, paint the white edges of the cut leather with boot polish or black acrylic paint. Re-lace the boots.

This moccasin variety is known as Ojibway, and comes from North America. It is traditionally made from three different types of leather, the hardest for the sole, and the finest for the vamp. You will need large piece of sheepskin artificial sinew, or really strong acrylic thread a leather needle, or tapestry needle fabric scissors pencil One. Using a pencil, make an outline of your feet on the sheepskin. Measure an allowance of 6cm around this edge. See pattern A on the diagram for how to shape the heel end. Two. The vamp is the upper part of the moccasin. It’s shaped like a rectangle with a curved end where your toes will be. From the centre


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of your arch, measure to the end of your big toe. This is the long measurement for the vamp. The short length of the vamp is the central width of your foot. Draw two vamps from those measurements. Mine was approximately 7 x 10cm long, but my feet are rather big. See pattern C. Three. Pattern B of the moccasins is a rectangle of approximately 15 x 6cm, which will form the ankle flaps. It doesn’t have to be that accurate. Draw this pattern out twice on the sheepskin. Four. You should now have two sole shapes, two vamps and two rectangles. Cut out all six patterns. Five. Trim down the hair of the sheepskin until it’s about 1cm long. Cut it even shorter around the edges of the vamps, the back of the heel and the curved edge of the largest pattern—this makes stitching the edges together easier. Six. First, you need to sew the vamp (pattern C) onto pattern A, forming the front section of the shoe. Lay the vamp on top of pattern A, so that the ‘toe’ ends of each touch each other, and the woolly sides are facing inward. The smaller curve of the vamp should be inside the larger curve of pattern A, touching in the middle. It’s important to start by sewing the middle of the curves together, where the toes are, so that the leather gathers evenly on each side. Stitch the two together at their central point, pulling the stitches

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tightly so they are strong. Go over each stitch twice and work along the curved edge. Gather the leather from pattern A into small folds and stitch them to pattern C. This is where you draw the excess leather of pattern A into ripples, forming the toe of the shoe. This is a fiddly business, but if it goes wrong, just up pick the stitching and start again. Keep trying the shoe on so you are certain that things are working out. Seven. Sew up the length of both sides of the vamp until you have a flip-flop moccasin, looking something like diagram D. Eight. Try on the moccasin and pull the heel material up around your heel tightly. This is how you adjust for the size, so mark on pencil where they should join. Nine. Sew the heel up. There will now be a vertical seam down the back of the heel of the moccasin. Sew the heel flap up against the seam to finish it. Ten. Finally, make your ankle flaps: sew one of the long edges of pattern B onto the exposed edge of pattern A that forms the heel end of the shoe. The flaps fold down and wrap around the heel end. Eleven. To get the moccasin to really mold itself onto your foot, it’s a good idea to wet it gently. You want to be careful with this step, though. I took my moccasins out for a gentle rain shower on the balcony, and ended up with one rather muddy shoe.

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proper shoes

felt boots

I had no idea how to make a proper pair of shoes. You know, the kind you can actually wear without tripping over frayed edges and bad stitching. So I went on a shoe-making course. I ended up at Prescott and Mackay, a small fashion and accessory school tucked away in a London basement and run by industry professionals. Perfect.

Felt boots are worn in cold snowy countries, so I asked a Russian friend how to make them. “Boil loads of wool, slap it around your feet, then let it dry and take shape,” she advised. “Just let them dry with your leg extended?” I asked, deeply sceptical. After a little more research into felting techniques, I secretly wished it was the idyllic love-in with wool that she’d described. Felting is a beautifully simple way of manipulating wool into a material that’s hard-wearing, but it’s also an exhausting, even gruelling, test of patience. I went through two failed attempts at felting, before coming up with these boots. If you’re really desperate, like I was, just cut out flat pieces of felt and stitch the booties together. Felt is a really durable material, so at least the boots will last a lifetime. Or until next winter.

I wanted to share the instructions with you, but the only problem was that shoemaking turns out to be quite technical. Now, I don’t know why that surprised me but I suspect my haphazard, homespun ways had gone to my head. It’s great fun, but you will need proper tools like lasts, which are basically 3D models of feet, lasting pincers, shoe glue, a heat gun and so on. If you were really serious about shoemaking, I’d get some training from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Prescott and Mackay have several established shoe-designers attached to the school, and they teach everyone from total beginners, like I was, to the more experienced designers. Best of all, they have a retro coffee machine upstairs, which makes the best flat white I’d tasted this side of the hemisphere. The shoes I made during the course aren’t things of great beauty. But they are really well-made, and I can’t believe I made them. Prescott and Mackay run courses in Los Angeles and London. Their website is at www.prescottandmackay.co.uk.

You will need 250g carded wool thick cardboard hot water washing-up liquid or mild soap scissors pencil One. Make an outline of your feet on the cardboard. Measure 4cm around your foot, and then draw the top of the boot, as pictured above. It looks like a huge ankle sock. Cut the pattern out.


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Felting in the kitchen sink, top left, and making shoes at Prescott and Mackay.

Two. Tug small tufts of wool from the bundle of carded wool and cover the cardboard pattern with a layer of them. Arrange the tufts so they’re lined up in same direction, as this makes the felt stronger. You should overlap the edge of the cardboard pattern by about 4cm. Three. Once you’ve got a single layer of wool on the cardboard, lay another layer over the top, this time arranging the pinches of wool at right-angles to your first layer. After this second layer, build up two more layers in the same way. You should have a very thick, wellorganised pile of wool by the end. Four. Pour a litre of hot water into a bowl, adding a couple of drops of washing-up liquid or soap. The soap helps to bind the wool fibres together, but too much will hinder the felting process. Gently drip the water onto the wool pattern. Wet the whole pattern in this way so it becomes damp, but not drowned by the water. Press the wool down, making the pattern flat and thin. Five. Turn the cardboard pattern and wool over. As before, build up four layers of wool on top of the cardboard. Wet and pat the wool layers down. The two sides of the pattern should now be at the same stage of making. Six. Now comes the muscle-building part. Gently rub the wool, circling over and massaging the surface for about 30 minutes. This will

encourage the wool fibres to bind together. Curl and rub the wool over the edges of the cardboard pattern. Pay very close attention to felting the seams of the boot. Seven. After treating the wool like this, you should be able to pick up the pattern. Roll it up into a tube and then unroll it. Do this several times. Now slam the whole pattern down on the work surface repeatedly. This is an effective way to get the wool fibres to tighten and bind together. Work in this way until the boot shrinks in size. The cardboard pattern will have become too large for the felt around it, but that doesn’t matter. Just fold the cardboard inward between the two layers of felt and keep massaging, then hitting the pattern against the work surface for about another 30 minutes. Eight. Once the boot has shrunk to almost the right size, and the wool is very felted and dense, take the cardboard out of the boots by cutting along the top of the shoes. Rinse the boot with cold water. With your hand in the middle of the boot, rub and massage the felt again until you are happy that the felt is strong. Nine. Put the wet boot on your bare foot. Shape the felt round your foot, rubbing and pushing it to take the shape of your foot. Ten. Leave the boot to dry overnight. Repeat the process to make a second boot.

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how much fun can you have for a pound? adventures on the cheap words beth davis

Some of the finest fun to be had is completely free: going to the park, reading a book, a night-time skinny dip in the local pool. But what if your budget is a little higher—say, a pound? We pondered the possibilities of thrifty fun a little further. Start a short-lived but meaningful penpal exchange? Have a Dale Winton-style trolley dash? Attempt to unwittingly buy a Ming at a car-boot sale?

sense of humour. Living near the seaside, for example, opens up the whole world of potentially endless two-penny arcade fun. Some more mischievous suggestions bandied around included, “Glue the pound to the floor,” and worryingly, “Drop it on someone.” I also gave a pound to charity on one day. It wasn’t exactly fun, but like Damon Albarn and his pigeons, did give me a sense of well-being.

When it comes to making the most of your coin, we decided that it’s important to make the most of your location and, crucially, your

The trick is a bit of creative thought, a partner in crime, and a frequent willingness to sacrifice taste and dignity.


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make a fanzine I was hoping to travel somewhere, but a pound barely gets you into the toilets at the station these days. I decided to focus my efforts instead on making a full-price journey as fun as possible, and make my own on-board magazine. Faced with a crisply folded sheet of A4, everything that usually passes me by in a lull of tea trolleys became breaking news to scribble down, and the journey flew by in an inky flourish:

upholstery, people eating their sandwiches, overhearing a woman tell someone their music was “quite unusual and irritating.” I popped into the nearest newsagent to photocopy my efforts at 10p a go and spent the rest of the week feeling rebellious as I left my handiwork on various trains and platforms. Who would find them? How far would they get? Weeks and weeks’ worth of

potential, thrilling fun, and all for the price of a KitKat from the buffet. The damage: £1 The down side: No word from the lucky finders, so probably in a bin somewhere near King’s Cross. Verdict: “Read all about it!”

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skipping rope

supermarket ride

pic ‘n’ mix

There’s nothing like a simple, wholesome game played with your sibling in the sunshine, especially when you’re old enough to know better. The skipping was alright, but a bit tricky seeing as our cheap rope didn’t quite have the oomph to swing itself around. My brother then used it to demonstrate the ancient art of Poi as practised at festivals by men in tribal print trousers, before goodnatured play gave way to sibling rivalry and we commenced three gruelling rounds of tug of war.

Do you remember the supermarket rides that you used to beg your mum to let you go on? Well, these days my money is my own, and so my brother and I set off to the nearest supermarket to recreate that childhood joy of feeling the wind from the bakery vent in your hair.

Back when penny sweets were a penny, a pound’s worth was guaranteed to have you bouncing off the ceiling. You were definitely looking at least a hundred sweets for your money, and possibly even more if your local sweet counter was run by an overly-trusting old lady like ours was. “How much have you got there dear?” “50p.”

I live in London and spend most of my days drawing, while my brother lives in a van and climbs rocks with his bare hands, so there’s no prizes for guessing who won. The biggest loser was the rope, which was stretched to hilariously limp proportions. As my brother pointed out, “That’s fifty percent extra free!” The damage: Mainly to the rope. The down side: Dented pride. Breathlessness.

I have to admit that once we were faced with the ride there was a fair amount of, “You do it,” “No, you do it,” involved. A pound actually gets you three rides, and so once aboard we would be looking at a good five minutes crouched on a child’s ride in front of a busy stream of Saturday afternoon shoppers. Just as I was all but ready to pop my pound in the slot, a trolley attendant walked past with a disparaging, “Don’t you think you’re a bit big for that?” Reader, I scarpered. The damage: £0 The down side: Mild humiliation.

Sadly, the same wasn’t true of pic ‘n’ mix. Despite a tactical approach to the picking— choosing sweets with maximum sugar content, only allowing ourselves one beefy square of fudge—we still managed to come in under cost at 83p. We could have gone back for more but the lady on the checkout looked like she wasn’t having any of it, so we left to guzzle the lot in one sitting. The damage: 83p The down side: Fun while it lasted, but twelve gummy sweets and a square of fudge doesn’t last long between two.

Verdict: Buy fun, get two free!

Verdict: In terms of value, three rides for a pound is unbeatable. In terms of fun, a gentle rocking motion is perhaps less so.

throw a party

get in a photo booth

gourmet feast

The only downside to parties, apart from the odd broken heirloom, is that they can be quite expensive affairs. Cocktail sausages are expensive, and even the most frugal homemade punch calls for something more exotic than weak orange squash. On the other hand they are fun, and theoretically just need people, T-Rex (it’s my party, alright!), a fair bit of drink and some food.

Between the ages of eleven and fifteen, fun on a Saturday afternoon invariably included a trip to town, a McDonald’s happy meal and a new pair of pedal-pushers. Even this usually came in under a tenner, but another important part of proceedings was to pile into a photo booth for a memento of the afternoon, every week.

Ask anyone you like, throwing a dinner party is the height of sophisticated fun, and so I decided to invite a friend for an evening of fine food, fine conversation and tap water. On the menu was 18p spaghetti in a deliciously rich sauce made from a can of 33p tomatoes, some unidentified Italian herbs floating round the kitchen and a single anchovy. Exquisite.

I bought a pack of jaunty party invites, picked a date at random, and filled them out. I then added, “Bring food and drink, please,” on the bottom in a casually suggestive yet firm manner and distributed them. A few days later, I’d had thirty thumbs up and voilà! Instant party. The damage: £1 The down side: Letting your flatmate know there’ll be thirty people turning up at the door any minute now. Verdict: Ten types of fun. It really shouldn’t be this easy.

I still find photo booths strangely magical, so one Saturday afternoon in town we decided to jump in. We put our pounds in and, laughing hysterically, immediately found ourselves battling with the logistics of not being hipless adolescents anymore. It took a few pops of the bulb before we got our act together and the idea of fitting another two people in as we used to is mind-boggling, but we came away with a proper squashfaced keepsake.

Verdict: You’d be better off buying a nice packet of biscuits.

But the triumph of the piece was pudding. Strawberry Sunrise Surprise tasted like birthday parties and caravan holidays. It was made from 6p jelly topped with a sumptuous layer of 7p strawberry-flavour whip, and by the time I’d made up individual portions in vintage glass bowls, it looked beautiful. “Deceptively so,” as my friend put it. The damage: 64p

The damage: £4 = £1 each—not cheating!

The down side: Tetrasodium diphosphate.

The downside: Cramp.

Verdict: “This isn’t just fun…” My sides hurt from laughing, or maybe it was the strawberry-flavour whip?

Verdict: Top notch fun.

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pretty lovely quirky things and creative people drop a line to free@ohcomely.co.uk by the end of june if you’d like the chance to get your hands on any of these goodies

alice gabb If prizes were being given for old-fashioned charm, one of Alice Gabb’s pieces would surely win a medal. In fact, her beautiful bears already proudly wear them. You sell your work at London’s Broadway market. That’s one of our favourite places! What do you like about being a market trader? You can’t beat having someone’s immediate reaction to your work. Every so often I see customers get totally lost with excitement at my bizarre little make-believe world. From the royal teacup candle to Bert the bear with his medal, your work has a distinctly regal air about it. Is this intentional? I love the aesthetic of our British regalia. While I was at university, I started to collect vintage graphics to improve my hand-rendered typography. The marvellous heritage and everything that comes with the bizarre status of being ‘royal’, such as the rules of language and etiquette, fascinates me. If you could write to anyone, who would you use your splendid envelopes to strike up a correspondence with? If she were still alive, I would finally write a letter to my father’s second cousin. She was very old and had no other family left, so wrote to us often. As a child I was busy climbing trees and chasing birds, so stupidly I never wrote back. When she died, she stated in her will that because I never replied, she was leaving her quarter-of-a-million-pound inheritance in a trust fund for her cats! It would surprise her that I learnt my lesson. Alice’s five favourite pieces of royal memorabilia: One. There’s a miniature book of photos of the coronation inside a walnut, titled the Royal Family in a Nutshell. This tickles me. Two. My celebratory coronation perpetual calendar. Three. My books on Princess Margaret that define my wardrobe. Four. The endless royal crocks that adorn my room. Five. Anything with corgis on, postcards especially. Alice has give us some of her lovely letter-writing sets to give away. Strike up the finest correspondence one can muster to free@ohcomely.co.uk, and the most splendid of letters will win!


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takae mizutani & sons We certainly stood to attention when we saw Takae Mizutani’s take on serving an egg and soldiers. She designs simple, playful ceramics inspired by some of our very favourite things, like tea, toast and trips to the seaside. Your business name, Takae Mizutani and Sons, has very traditional ring to it. When I set up my company in 2007, I found the idea of starting a business on my own quite scary, so I decided to add my two cats Mooks and Guiness to the company, hence the name Takae Mizutani and Sons. We love the slightly childlike outlook of your work. Is this deliberate? I find simple things amusing in the same way children often do. A signpost on a street or an insect in my garden could turn into something wonderful. I feel lucky that I can create something I love. How do you like your egg and soldiers? A soft yolk is essential. An egg timer always helps, and don’t forget the salt and pepper. Five short stories about Takae’s creations: One. Sweet Home Snail cake plate Brioche snails, cupcake snails, or even healthier apple snails: this plate allows you to discover the many different species around you. Two. Tea Rules the World lion and unicorn I’m attracted to British habits, such as putting the kettle on while you compose your thoughts, and I love that a lion and unicorn feature on the royal coat of arms. Three. Memory of Falmouth This salt and pepper set was created in Cornwall, inspired by the reflection of the sunlight on the sea, the shape of the masts and the salty air. Four. My Egg and Soldiers Soldiers are often overlooked and left to lie down on the plate. Good soldiers need royal horses, and a tasty egg deserves to be in a castle. Five. Sloth Tea Helper This lovely fellow assists your daily tea-making routine, taking care of your teaspoon and teabag while you relax. What’s the hurry? Take the time to enjoy your tea. For a chance of winning one of Takae’s Sweet Home Snail plates, simply email in to free@ohcomely.co.uk with what treat you’d choose to have on yours, and our favourite snail species will win!

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alice rose lewis Once upon a time, there was a talented maker called Alice Rose Lewis who worked with textiles, embroidery and illustration. We could live happily ever after with her whimsical work that is inspired by traditional craft and folk stories. We’re captivated by your magical pieces. Have you always been imaginative? I was brought up in the countryside and can remember grubbing around in the mud and leaves creating potions. Being read to as a child instilled a love for fairy tales. I’m fascinated by the creepy, often dark, undertones of the work of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. Creating these magical worlds is central to what I do today. Your work uses a lot of traditional sewing techniques. I use a combination of hand and machine embroidery, but the handmade aspect of my work is very important to me. People appreciate the imperfections, details and individual human touches that come with handmade products. What takes you back into the real world? My dog is a constant source of amusement and inspiration, plus one of my ongoing projects is attempting to do up an old circus caravan. Alice’s five favourite fairy tales and folk stories: One. East of the Sun and West of the Moon. This inspired my bear character. It’s about a bear who is actually a handsome prince. There’s a beautiful passage where a girl rides the bear through the forest. Two. The Wild Swans. A classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, with a character that knits nettles. My piece, Over the Rooftops, is a nod to this story. Three. Vasilisa the Beautiful. A Russian tale featuring Baba Yaga, a witch whose forest abode sits on chicken’s legs. Four. Rumpelstiltskin. A disturbing little man with an identity crisis who is a dab hand on the spinning wheel. Five. The Firebird. A tale about a beautiful bird whose feathers glow like amber in a fire. Alice has very kindly donated one of her bear brooches to give away, and so for a chance of winning your own handsome prince in magical disguise we’d like you finish this fairy tale in 50 words or less: “Once upon a time in the Kingdom of…”


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jimbob art Under the guise of Jimbob Art, James Ward illustrates teatime crockery with a host of bears, pandas, goats and badgers, all of whom look like they’d take the last bite of your Victoria sponge, given half a chance. With one eye firmly on the sandwiches, we spoke to him to find out exactly why he draws owls wearing underpants. Unless a bear in a fez really did escape with your lunch, or you encountered some owls clad only in their pants, we guess your work isn’t based on personal experience. What made you choose animals? My mother keeps asking why I draw animals in their underpants, but I honestly don’t know! I think I just find it funny. For me, animal characters can describe so much about human emotions and personalities. What I like is the response I get from people who identify with them—usually telling me they know someone who acts like them! My bear plate is my favourite character. I like the idea that even big scary animals can express themselves in a polite way, waiting for you to finish your food. You’ve covered everything with your dinner, side and serving plates. Is laying the table in a proper manner something that you feel strongly about? Not really! I like the idea of mixing and matching furniture or crockery and knick-knacks as a more random approach to home decoration. I only began using ceramics as a medium for my illustration this year after a visit to Sweden where I was inspired by the huge range of surface design on furnishings and homewares. I’ll hopefully be buying a new home soon and I’m looking forward to drawing animal characters directly onto all the bathroom tiles. What sandwich would you fight to defend from a bear? A fillet steak, horseradish and chip sandwich. James’ top five teatime foods: One. Sticky toffee pudding Two. Jaffa cakes Three. KitKat chunky Four. Hobnobs Five. Jammy Dodgers If you go down to the woods today, you might just win a prize. We have two plates to give away to lucky readers, so email in to free@ohcomely.co.uk with your best bear fact for a chance to win.

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What does a panda do?

Eats shoots and leaves. Refuses to mate.

a hungry And what does in do? ss sa panda as

Only eats bamboo despite it being of nearly no nutritional value, lat er tries to garrote an owl.

What’s your problem with pandas?

Eats, shoots and leaves. They’re in an evolutionary cul-de-sac. Also, one killed my father.

I see you appreciate good punctuation.

Sorry. It’s just been a long day. Apologies, pandas.

You’re lying. You’re the semi-colon ;

e I don’t appreciat . ns io pt m su your as

It’s the key to articulation, and articulation is emancipation.

What a thoughtful, elegant response. But what’s your favourite cheese joke?

You’re the full stop . Solid. Reliable. Maybe you’re not as flamboyant as others, but hey, what’s a sentence without you? Except for that previous one, obviously.

I’m not not lying.

Oh, you poor thing. It’s sad how little you’re appreciated considering how pretty you are. And then, when someone does notice you, they don’t even treat you right. Still, chin up. There are those who are used even less correctly: be thankful you’re not the apostrophe.

You’re the interrobang What kind of cheese do you use to get a bear down from a tree? Camembert.

What kind of cheese do you use to disguise a horse? Mascarpone.

Are you exotic or just wilfully obscure? It’s hard to tell. You’ve been barely seen for years. One thing is for certain: you have an awesome name. Well done.

You’re the opening parenthesis (

You’re the asterisk *

To paraphrase Right Said Fred: you’re like a swan: you only love once. You’ve found what it is that completes you. It might be a person. It might be a pursuit. Whatever it is, you were made for each other and you know it.

It’s not a coincidence that the asterisk looks like a star, as that’s what you are to any conversation. Unashamedly irreverent, if things get too heavy you’re always on hand with something off-topic to defuse the situation—a witty aside or some fact about the Trafalgar Graveyard or Harold Wilson or the etymology of the word ‘penguin’.

Make sure you stay true to that, because where would the world be if every bracket was left unclosed?

words jason ward, illustration steph baxter

You’re a treasure trove of the arcane and irrelevant, the saviour of a thousand dull exchanges.


gsm europe: +33 5 58 700 700

amy ii dress - luxy belt

live . learn . grow – elementeden.eu


Oh Comely magazine issue 6  

Oh Comely is a print magazine that makes people smile, full of quiet moments and stories. Read it with a cup of tea or a toddy. Subscribe he...