Wednesday, 10 September 2014

LIT FIEND INTERVIEW [#1]


One of the awesome things about doing Paper and Ink has been the plethora of weird, wonderful and interesting people that I have met because of it. So, aside from sharing their creative outpurings in the zine itself I have decided to interview some of the writers that have/will feature in its pages. First up is the original lit fiend himself and a writer whom Mark SaFranko describes as one of his favourites in the whole world (and if you don't know who Mark SaFranko is, stop reading this right now and go buy some of his books from Murder Slim Press. Then come back and read this interview, obviously).

Boring bits first... What's your name, where do you come from and what do you do?

My name is Joseph Ridgwell. I'm originally from east London and I'm an International Man of Leisure currently residing in Edinburgh.

How did you come to end up in Edinburgh? 

Having been priced out of the housing market in my traditional homelands by rich people - I was forced to relocate to a city where a working man could still afford to live in a decent manner or in the style I was accustomed to - carousing in bars several times a week - womanising and fine dining. Also the mother of my child - Miss Urchin Belle - is originally from Auld Reekie and she told me all these tales of Edina and how wonderful a city it is - and being gullible of nature - I fell for her lines hook line and sinker.

What was the first piece of writing that you ever had published?

The first piece of writing I had published was a short piece of fiction that was published online in 2002 and for which I was paid £25. That of course was in the early days of the internet when nobody knew what they were doing. Now nobody gets paid anything. The first piece of fiction where I was just beginning to find my feet as a writer was a short story called Candice - and which was published on the now defunct Laura Hird Showcase in 2005. Looking back an amazing amount of established writers first had their work appear on Laura’s showcase.

Do you keep count of all the pieces you've had published?

No - way too many. Of course I do know how many books I've had published. 12 -with a short story collection (pictured, right) due out on Bottle of Smoke Press some time later this year - which will feature some wonderful artwork by the multi-talented Jose Arroyo

And then there’s the long awaited and overdue novel Burrito Deluxe also slated for publication by Purpose Books in Spring 2015. Only had to wait eight years for that mother to see the light of day!

What has been your proudest moment as a writer thus far?

I’m proud of all my books of course - especially A Child of the Jago - but have a soft spot for the very first - Where are the Rebels - a chapbook of poetry published by Blackheath Books in 2008. However - my proudest moment as a writer was when I told the literary editor of the Guardian Newspaper to fuck off. I lost a paid hack journo gig - but I preserved some self-respect. Anyway, let’s face it hack work is bad for the lit fiend rep. It was also at that point - an epiphany really - that I knew I’d never compromise my artistic vision for monetary gain. Of course this may mean I end up starving to death in the gutter - but what the hell - it’s gonna be a fun ride getting there.

What advice would you give to your 15 year old self?  

Stop shoplifting.

What would your 15 year old self say if he saw the person you have become? 

Some burnt out boozer who writes books that nobody reads. Tosser!

What was the last book you read that blew your mind?  

I did so much reading in my formative years that it is now seldom that a book has the capacity to blow my mind - but every now and then one comes along that gets my mojo working and renews the faith. The latest lit fiend gold dust were - James Curtis - The Gilt Kid, Gerard Kersch - Night and the City and the collected writings of Cookie Mueller (pictured, left). Actually all the books currently issued by London Books are worth investigating.

Who is your favourite literary character of all time?

Oh shit that’s a hard one as there are so, so many - but if push came to shove I’d have to say Arturo Bandini - no no Henry Chinaski - shit Jack Mitchell - Long John Silver - Sal Paradise - Harry Fabian - Ferdinand Bardamu - Dan Yack - Martin Eden - Anna Morgan - Candy -oh shit I can’t stop. Put it this way there are quite a few.

What is your favourite movie? 


Has anyone ever approached you about adapting any of your work for film? (if not, what would you say if they did?)  

Nobody has approached me with a view to adapting my work for film - but if they did they would receive a polite but firm get to fuck. As long as I live I will never let any of my work be turned into film as I consider the medium of movies to be fundamentally flawed. As a lit fiend - I prefer to use my imagination. And although Terry Southern’s wonderful literary creation Guy Grand informs us that everyone has their price - in this instance he would be sadly mistaken. 

What is your favourite album?  

Ooh - again I have plenty - hundreds - but at the moment I’ve recently discovered the work of US folk singer Kate Wolf which I really dig.

What is your drink of choice?  

Beer and wine - sometimes gin

Which three famous people, dead or alive, would you like to get drunk with?  

Mary Millington, Carol White & Diana Dors (pictured, right) - and hopefully once they were suitably inebriated and I’d charmed them with my lit fiend ways and intimate knowledge of all their films - I’d somehow have my wicked way with each of them, ha!

There is that famous Hemingway quote that goes "write drunk, edit sober", would you concur with that? 

Yeah - more or less - I do some of my best work either hungover or boozy. I can’t write drunk - I’ve tried but after seven beers the writing begins to fall apart - along with the ability to type. Also with beer you have to keep getting up to take a piss every fifteen minutes which disrupts the creative flow. Wine is better.

There seems to be a bit of a lit zine resurgence in the UK in the last year or so, with the likes of Hand Job and PUSH, as well as my own, Paper and Ink, why do you think that is?

I’m glad you asked this question as something very interesting is taking place on the UK underground lit scene as we speak. I think people - especially younger people - are suffering from internet and technology fatigue. You know all those mostly useless electronic gadgets we’re supposed to own. I think there is a primal urge to fuck all that shit off and get back to the nitty gritty -like the aptly named title of your mag PAPER & INK. Books man - real books written by real people - not a fucking lump of grey plastic. There’s also the obvious fact that bookshops rarely serve up the shit the fiend is searching for. This means that the genuine lit fiend is forced to venture off the beaten literary path to satisfy their peculiarly esoteric reading tastes. And another important facet to these zines is that the work contained within is mostly representative of their generation - culture and community, which at the moment is repressed by the mainstream as they just don’t get it. It’s the voice or voices of the people - the ordinary man and woman on the street and not some useless prick at the British Council. In fact what these zines represent is the antithesis to the puke that the British Council serves up as culture. In some ways it’s pretty revolutionary. The powers that be want zombie consumers - people thinking for themselves is dangerous - they might just start to question shit - you know - might start getting a little political.

PUSH of course is a literary phenomenon all by itself. Imagine a literary zine that is sold to football fans or to anyone on the street and which sells out faster than a best-selling novel. This fact alone is what is twisting everyone’s melons. Joe England has a lot to be proud of. Hand Job is the same - emanating from the same source. How long these zines will last is anyone’s guess, but I for one will gladly be taken along for the ride!

What advice would you give to any budding young lit fiends out there?  

The usuals - read widely - on any subject - style - genre - just read like a mother fucker and then lock yourself up in a room and get the word down. On average it takes around ten years to get anywhere near decent. Good luck - they’ll need it, but then don’t we all!

What does the future hold for Mr Joseph Ridgwell? 

I’m not sure - I get the feeling that I’m an unlucky lucky writer. I’m lucky in that I have all these wonderful artisan publications to my name - I’ve been very fortunate with publishers so far - and yet I’m unlucky in that there has been very little financial renumeration for all my hard work. I think that possibly I will be discovered by the mainstream after I’m dead or when I’m a very old man. Of course, by then, it will be too late. But I’m not bitter - I’m bitter sweet. I’ve had a good life - travelled all over the world - drank in bars from Bali to Bombay - and had a roller-coaster ride of a lifetime. Also I’ve seen those successful writers pushed and barged to the top by the industry - and it seems much better going underground all by myself. And for those lit fiends who get my work - they really get it- and they also have the books all to themselves. You know it’s a like a secret club - a crazy cool screwball one. Man - you’re either in the know or in the dark like a mushroom. And let’s face it - who wants to be a mushroom!

Thanks for your time and for answering these questions, Joe. Keep fighting the good fight! 

Joe's writing will feature in Paper and Ink Issue #4 which comes out at the end of the year (or the beginning of next year, or whenever I get around to finishing it). Until then you keep up to date with his comings and goings by feasting your beady little eyes on his website and/or following him on Twitter.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

MY TATTOO VIRGINITY

For my birthday, back in April, my girlfriend bought me a tattoo voucher. I have been saying for years that I want to get a tattoo, but I'm so fucking lazy I have never got around to it. She bought me the voucher so that I would no longer have any excuses. Four months later, on the afternoon of Friday 22nd August, I finally lost my tattoo virginity. To a lovely bearded fellow by the name of Luke. This is what he did...

 
photo by Coma Diary

As many of you will know I am a huge fan of punk band Against Me! and this is a line from their song 'The Ocean', which is on their fourth studio album 'New Wave' (2007). It isn't so much that I particularly love that song. Don't get me wrong, it's a great song and I dig it, but I just love that line. I love the imagery that it conjurers up. Laura Jane Grace is a fantastic song writer and I can't wait to see Against Me! live, for the first time, in November!

I really hope they play 'The Ocean'.

Monday, 1 September 2014

GOODBYE, HANK


Saying goodbye to an old friend is never easy. That is exactly what watching the seventh and final season of Californication felt like for me. However, as sad as I am that it is all over and I am also relieved. It was is my favourite TV show. Ever. And I adore Hank Moody, but it should have ended a long fucking time ago. The last few years have been what I can only imagine watching an old friend slowly die of a horrible, debilitating illness is like. I'm sorry if that offends anyone and I don't mean to belittle terminal illness by comparing it to the rapidly fading quality of a once vibrant and original television series, but to me, that is what watching the end of Californication felt like. It is sad that it is over, the end of an era, but it was for the best. The suffering is over and we're left with some great fucking memories.

For those that have never seen it, the show is about a writer from New York, the aforementioned Hank Moody (David Duchovny), and his misadventures in California. He drinks a lot, fucks a lot, fucks up a lot, and can never get his shit together for longer than one episode at a time. It is billed as a comedy but there is a big beating heart at the centre of the show, and that is what I always liked about it. The funny bits are great and I have laughed at this show more than most others, but the serious bits, the heart wrenching, sucker punch you in the stomach bits are what I loved the most.

The first season was perfect. In my opinion, a perfect story.  Hank Moody, the loveable fuck up, on a quest to win back the love of his life (Karen, played by Natasha McElhone) and be a good father to his daughter (Becca, played by Madeleine Martin). A simple set up that worked wonderfully. But as the seasons went on they started to run out of ideas. There is only so long the story of a man trying and failing to win back his ex can last. He can only fuck up so many times before people just stop caring.

There was a certain story arc (which I won't give away) that kept the momentum of the show going throughout the first few seasons. Said story arc was all wrapped up by the end of season four, and for me, that is where the show ends. With Hank driving off into the sunset. The last three seasons were bullshit. The final season, especially, was fucking horrible. The characters had become caricatures of themselves and the same old jokes were no longer funny. The only saving grace of the season was episode ten, which took place over the course of a single night and started with Hank cooking a romantic meal for Karen only for them to be unexpectedly joined by all of the other characters. If there is one thing that Tom Kapinos (Creator of the show and writer of this particular episode) excels at, it is writing chaotic dinner parties. There are several of them throughout the course of the seven seasons and they're all brilliant.

I first found the show by accident. I had the TV on one evening, just as background noise, when episode five of season one came on. It caught my attention right away and I was hooked. To this day that episode is still my favourite. It was nice to see a show about a normal (ish) guy with real life problems (and zero capability of actually dealing with me). The witty dialogue, especially, really pushed my buttons. I made my (then) girlfriend watch season one with me and I remember her saying, ironically during episode five, as Hank sat on his kitchen floor with a cigarette and a glass of whiskey first thing in the morning, "That'll be you when you're older". At the time I thought, "Yeah, Hank Moody, I'll take that". What low aspirations; to be a drunken mess, pining after his ex girlfriend. Lo and behold a few years later after that girl did eventually break up with me, I became that drunk mess, sitting on the floor with a cigarette and a cider rather than whiskey first thing in the morning. A self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps? I don't know. Maybe I just need better role models.

Season two started just as I was starting university. Living away from home for the first time, it was a comfort. I introduced the show to my room mate and he loved it, too. I have great memories of us watching it together and laughing so hard it hurt. Season three started as I began my second year of uni and the fourth as I began my final year. Those first four seasons are intertwined with great memories of uni as well as painful ones of missing my girlfriend and drinking until I passed out. After seven years, the show is now over, and I am a different person to the twenty year old that first discovered it.

Goodbye, Hank, and thanks for the memories. You got me though some tough times, motherfuckaaaa!

"I may not go down in history, but I will go down on your sister" - Hank Moody

Monday, 25 August 2014

MEET BRODY AND STEVE


My girlfriend and I got kittens about two months ago. She named the boy. Steve. She likes giving her cats standard people names (Her last one was called Dave). I named the girl. Brody. Yes, after Brody Dalle. Yes, it is 2003. Yes, I am a sixteen year old girl. No, I don't give a fuck. Speaking of Brody Dalle. Funny story. A few days ago I was in a sweet shop buying some toffee crumble and the teenage girl serving me told me that the Distillers t-shirt that I was wearing was awesome. I'm not sure why but it felt creepy as fuck and somehow very very wrong. What's that about?!? Anyway, the kittens...

Jesus H Christ kittens are annoying as fuck! They ATTACK EVERYTHING and EVERYTHING IS EXCITING! "Is that a laptop charger?... MINE!" "Oh look, a foot sticking out of the bed! NOM!" "Look, something moving under the duvet... POUNCE!" "Oh look, a cupboard/wardrobe/cardboard box. What's inside?... I'LL CHECK" "You're doing the washing up?... I'LL HELP!" ...I could carry on, but you get the idea. It is so tiring. And no matter how many times I threaten to flush them down the toilet THEY WON'T LEARN TO BEHAVE.

Also, THEY EAT AND SHIT SO MUCH! I know they're growing and everything but I did not anticipate how much it would cost to own kittens. They eat more than I do and they're the size of my feet!

I love them really, though. I would never ACTUALLY flush a kitten down the toilet. When they're sleepy and docile they're incredibly cute. Like now, for example: As I type this post, sitting on my bed, with my laptop on my... lap, Brody is asleep on my legs. She is generally the more placid of the two, Steve is kind of a maniac. I'm not going to lie I'm kinda looking forward to when they're all grown up and spend most of their time chilling out and snoozing instead of getting all up in my shit.

Brody has now woken up and wandered off and Steve has decided to chew on my toes. Fuck my life.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

REASONS WHY I DON'T DRIVE AND NEVER WLL

This is a follow up to the post REASONS WHY I DON'T HAVE A SMARTPHONE AND NEVER WILL a.k.a I'm a weirdo that refuses to conform and this is where I try to justify why a.k.a I'm a self righteous dick and what of it? So yeah, as the title of the post suggests; I don't drive. I have never had a lesson and I have never been behind the wheel of a car. Most people have learnt how to drive by the time they reach their late twenties and a significant number of people have leant how to drive by their late teens, but I never bothered. I'm not against cars per say, I have been a passenger in cars all my life; in fact my mother told me that as a baby the only way my parents could get me off to sleep was in the motion of a vehicle, so they often had to take me out driving late at night just to get me to sleep. As a fully fledged adult, with much more normal sleeping habits, I am not so fond of those big hunks of metal, and this is why... 

 

This is a serious point, you guys. I have absolutely no doubt that if I got behind the wheel of a car serious carnage would ensue. I just... I can't steer. Maybe it is a lack of coordination or balance something, I don't know, but when I was a kid (or, you know, nineteen) I went Go Karting with a bunch of friends for someone's birthday and I SUCKED. I literally had to drive so slowly just to avoid crashing at every turn. I didn't finish last, but I did get ribbed by all my friends for sucking so bad. ALSO I used to have to drag a pallet trolley around when I worked in a factory and I was ALWAYS crashing in to things and getting the bastard stuck. I know you probably can't compare Go Karting and pallet trolleys with an actual car, but still, the signs are not encouraging.


Even if I did WANT to drive then the actual overall cost involved would certainly put me off. Not only do you have to actually buy a car, you then have to insure it (which isn't cheap for first time drivers), pay for road tax and also pay for fuel to run the fucker (the price of which is obviously always going to increase until electric cars are the norm). Not only that but then there is the cost of maintaining the car. On a budget like mine I'd only be able to afford some second hand, broken down, piece of shit so I'd be forever having to get it fixed. No thanks, I'll stick with buses and trains and my own two legs. Which brings me nicely to my third and final point...  

 

I have never lived anywhere that it was a necessity that I drive. I am lucky enough to live in a town where everything I need is within walking distance. I think that lot of people drive when they don't really NEED to and that is a major problem. Driving makes people so fucking lazy. I appreciate that people who live in the middle of nowhere do NEED to drive, or people with disabilities and such, but so many people really don't. Not only that, but looking at the bigger picture, does the world really need another fucking car on the already overcrowded roads? I'm not NOT driving because I'm trying to save the planet or anything, but if by not driving I am getting a little exercise AND not causing unnecessary pollution and congestion then I'm more than happy to keep on walking.

Tell me, drivers, why do you drive? What is so great about cars? Am I completely wrong? COME AT ME, BRO.