Sunday, 15 November 2015


I realised recently that I have not written a blog post that wasn't about zines or literature in forever. Or, like, since May, when I wrote about a gig in my shitty town. Anyway, I decided that it was about time I wrote about something the fuck else, so here I am with a post about tattoos. Tattoos that I have and tattoos that I want. Because who doesn't love tattoos?!? Exactly. No one. Well... Plenty of people probably don't, but fuck those people, they're idiots.

Anyway, as you may or may not know I did not lose my tattoo virginity until last August at the ripe old age of 27. I got a line from an Against Me! song on the outside of my right forearm and it looks little something like this...

They say that you never just get one tattoo. That shit is addictive. You get one, and then you get another, and another and another, and so on. Well, I have had a pretty tight year, financially speaking, so I did not jump back on the bandwagon immediately. I had to wait over a year, but in September, I set Luke loose on my arm once again. This time on the inside of my right forearm. This time another music related tattoo. This time not Against Me! but Frank motherfucking Turner...

"Worse Things Happen At Sea" is the title of one of my favourite Frank songs (it is also a pretty damn good expression), the anchor was a design that I pilfered from Google image search which Luke customised, and the FTHC bit at the top is Frank's logo (The HC stands for hardcore). That logo hurt like a motherbitch. I assumed that the wrist would hurt the most but nope. When I got my first tattoo it was the end nearest the elbow which hurt the most too. Apparently I have weak elbows or something.

I already have ideas for my next two and hope it won't be a year until I can get them done. Next, I want a Jason Voorhees. Again on my forearm, this time on the top. What I want is a simplified, flash style version of the cover image from Friday The 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter. Because it is my favourite Jason movie and, well, it looks badass. I spent almost a whole day scouring the depths of the internet to find examples of what I wanted but came up short. That is, until I stumbled across an old flash sheet of Luke's from 2013 on Facebook and it contained exactly what I want...

After Jason I then want a Bukowski tattoo. I know this post wasn't going to be about literature, but apparently everything always comes back to literature. I have always wanted a Bukowski tattoo of some description but the problem is that I can't decide exactly what to get. Do I get one of my favourite quotes, or a line from a poem, or a visual interpretation of a favourite poem? The truth is that I will probably end up with all of those things at some stage, but first of all what I want is a design based on Buk's headstone...

The "Don't Try" refers to creativity. If you want to do something, don't think about it, don't talk about it, DO IT. I don't know if Buk was a fan of Star Wars (probably not) but it also has pangs of the Yoda quote "Do or do not. There is no try". I like that and it very much echoes the DIY punk ethos that I try to live by. The boxer part. I don't know what that meant to Bukowski exactly, but to me, I love boxing and whilst I have never laced up a pair of gloves myself I am big admirer of those that do.

I could probably come up with a million and one other things that I want to get. I want an R2D2. I want Black Flag bars. I want a little black cat. I want something to do with zines and PAPER AND INK. I want a little pizza slice. I want "Meet me in Montauk". And of course there is the one I have been talking about for years... The knuckle tattoos. I always said that I would get MEAT FREE tattooed on my knuckles to celebrate 10 years of being vegetarian. Well, that year is now but I don't think I am ready for knuckle tattoos just yet. Maybe that will be a 15 year celebration. Pretty much nobody I have ever told about that one have thought it was a good idea. Knuckle tattoos are typically detrimental to your job prospects, I know, but the thing is... I really don't give a fuck. I work a shitty job, I make zines and I write. When I am fifty I will still be working shitty jobs, making zines and writing. If somebody doesn't want to employ me because I am an arrogant vegetarian who wears his heart on his sleeve then, my friend, that ain't the job for me anyway.

I will probably get another Frank Turner tattoo as well. Possibly the line "Life is too short to live without poetry", possibly "I am disappeared", possibly something else, probably all of the above. It was actually something Frank said at one of his shows that made me finally get off my arse and get my first tattoo. He was talking about a recent tattoo that he'd had done and said that to him, people that don't get tattoos are like the people that leave the plastic wrapping on their new furniture. I didn't want to be one of those people.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Have you ever wanted to disappear? To drop everything in the blink of an eye and escape? To start afresh in a new, exotic locale? To step out of the rat race once and for all and truly experience the endless possibilities that the world has to offer? – To hell with the soul sapping nine to five, to hell with all the hollow, plastic technology that you have surrounded yourself with, to hell with the trivialities and mundane existence of day to day life – I know I have and I am sure you have, too. And that is exactly what the two main characters in Burrito Deluxe decided to do, and they never looked back.

The hero of Burrito Deluxe is the eponymous Joseph Ridgwell, who along with his best mate Ronnie, decide to ditch their dead end life in the East End of London and hop on a flight bound for Mexico.

For many middle class youngsters growing up in the UK, a no expense spared trip around the Americas paid for by the bank of mummy and daddy is a common occurrence, but for two working class council estate kids things don’t come so easy. Joseph and Ronnie have to beg, borrow and quite literally steal to gather together the capital that will necessitate their dreams. Their plan is to get enough cash together to see them by for a year in Central and South America before moving on to Australia to find work and continue their adventure. Of course, things don’t quite go to plan and once in Mexico their excessive lust for partying and the never ending search for the Lost Elation means they are soon running out of cash. Queue more hair brain get rich quick schemes as they scratch and claw with fervent desperation to stay on the road, but to what lengths are they willing to go to to avoid going back home?

Anyone familiar with the previous work of Joseph Ridgwell will know exactly what to expect from Burrito Deluxe – a highly tuned and refined prose combined with excellent comic timing. The story zips along at break neck speed and you will find yourself laughing and crying from one page to the next. The character of Ronnie is an interesting one, the comparison of him being the Dean Moriarty to Joseph’s Sal Paradise is easy to make, but none the less an accurate one. Ronnie is very self assured, full of piss and vinegar, and the young Ridgwell will follow him to the end of the world. However, by the end of the novel you get the feeling that the characters have both evolved and that they are no longer necessarily heading down the same path.

Burrito Deluxe is a highly entertaining road novel that will at the very least leave you with a severe case of wanderlust, and will hopefully garner Joseph Ridgwell the notoriety that his talent deserves. Special mention has to go to the astounding front cover design – A woodcut from Southern Californian artist Jose Arroyo – in my humble opinion never before has a cover so accurately captured the spirit and essence of a novel so perfectly. Viva la Mexico!

The official book launch is happening tomorrow night in Leith, so if you're in the area you'd a be a fool to miss it. If not, you grab a copy online from Leamington Books.

Saturday, 7 November 2015


This month's interview comes to you all the way from the U S of A, with a no nonsense, says it as he he sees it, whiskey drinking writer with a work ethic that will make you feel like the laziest son of a bitch on the planet. He has thus far published seven books and he isn't even thirty yet. Not only that but word on the street is that he will also be appearing in the upcoming seventh issue of PAPER AND INK!

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

Name's Dave Matthes. The long and short of it is, I was born and currently live in South Jersey, and have lived most of my life there. I consider myself a writer, but for a paycheck I install bulk cooking oil systems in restaurants, casinos, airports, and supermarkets all around the United States, so there's a lot of travel in my line of work, which I love.

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing since grade school, but I self published my first novel around 2011.

Do you prefer writing prose or poetry or does that just depend on your mood at the time?

It really all depends on where I'm at. Right now I'm staying in a hotel in Rochester, NY for work. On these trips I usually write more poetry than prose.

You recently released Bar Nights, your seventh novel and the first in The Mire Man Trilogy. That's an impressive output for someone who isn't even thirty yet, what's your secret?

I can't remember who said it, but it'll always stick with me. They said something along the lines of, "what's the point in sitting down to write if you won't stand up to live?". So basically, I just live. And I live as hard as I possibly can. That and I always have a bottle of Jameson handy, because you never fuckin' know.

All your work is self published, have you ever approached any traditional mainstream publishers/literary agents with your stuff or are you happy to go it alone?

I have, but I don't like the way mainstream publishers handle business, not that any of my submissions have been accepted anyway. I prefer self publishing because I have all the control. I don't have to worry about some editor wanting me to change something because the reader might get offended.

I love the cover artwork on your books. Do you do all that yourself?

Yeah, that's another thing I like about self publishing. It can take a while and I usually go through about ten to twenty cover designs before deciding on one, but it's one of my favorite things to do. If I'm wrestling with the blank page and losing, sometimes I'll just work on a new cover design, and that usually enables me to shit out a few sentences in whatever I'm working on.

List your top five favourite writers...

Bukowski. McCarthy. Shel Silverstein. RL Stine. Tolkien.

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

This is hard because I really don't read, hardly at all. I'd have to say The Road. They was it was written was unlike anything I ever read, and by the end I probably ordered five pizzas just for myself, just so I had someplace to put my overflowing emotions.

That is interesting, that you hardly read. Why is that? Is it lack of time, lack of stuff you're interested in reading, or just time you'd rather spend writing?

It's a combination of things I guess. Partly because there is a huge lack of anything worth reading out there, at least the newer stuff, which is mostly just a bunch of crap people cookie cut from other people's writing. And also because I work 60 to 70 hours a week most of the time. Finding time to write is more important to me than finding time to read.

Who would have won in a fight... Hemingway or Bukowski?

This is a trick question, obviously. Bukowski never would have even stepped into the ring; he'd be too drunk on apathy. And Hemingway, he's too boring to even swing a fist in the right direction; he'd end up stubbing his toe on a predicate and think it was a soliloquy or some shit, then forget he wanted to fight Bukowski to begin with.

If you could get drunk with any three people, dead or alive, who would they be?

My friends from high school, no question. We've all gone our separate ways, save my best friend who I consider my brother, and who I also live with. Nothing could even come close to beating the nights we used to have together. I know you said three people, but there aren't three million people on the planet I'd rather spend another night with.

An admirable answer. How about if you could get drunk with one fictional character, who would it be?

One fictional character... well, I'm not at all a Harry Potter fan... but getting out of this world, batshit drunk with Hagrid would probably end up being a damn good time.

What is your drink of choice?

Jameson for prose. Wine for poetry. And beer for warming up.

I know that you love your music, but if you had the chance to see one band, play one show, in any time period, who would it be and when?

Led Zeppelin, no question. Right smack dab in the middle of their fuckin' prime.

What is your favourite movie?

I don't have just one, so I'll say Shawshank Redemption, Jaws, and Crash are up there on the list.

If some Hollywood big shot wanted to turn Bar Nights into a movie who would be your number one choice to play Arlo Smith?

Someone unknown.

When is part two of The Mire Man Trilogy coming out and what can we expect?

I'm hopefully going to be finishing the first draft sometime in November. It's basically an origin story for Arlo, mostly taking place during his high school years. I don't want to get into details, but it's far darker and grittier than Bar Nights.

I am looking forward to part two with bated breath. Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions.

Follow Dave on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Read my review of BAR NIGHTS and buy his books on Amazon. He will also be in PAPER AND INK ISSUE #7 which is out in January.

Sunday, 25 October 2015


On Friday morning I awoke at the crack of dawn, packed a bag full of zines, chocolate bars and prawn cocktail flavoured crisps and jumped on a coach at 8am. My destination was Nottingham. The reason for my jaunt halfway up the country was the launch party for Hand Job Zine's ninth issue. A fantastic night of poetry and punk, but we'll get to that... First I had an eight hour journey ahead of me. I decided to get a coach rather than a train as it was half the price. I also believe that a long ass coach journey is a right of passage that every man should experience at least once in his life. My girlfriend warned me that I would hate it, that she had been on long coach journeys before and they were torture, but I wasn't too worried. I like long journeys. I recently discovered the fantastic music of Sam Russo so his new album 'Greyhound Dreams' was a fitting accompaniment for the first leg of the journey up to London Victoria. I then had an hour wait for my next coach, just enough time to piss and shit and neck a pint. Then it was onwards to Nottingham. 

I got to Nottingham at bang on 4pm, checked in to the hostel I was staying in and then had a wander around the city. I checked out some shops and sampled a few of the local boozers. From the little I saw of the city it seemed like a nice place and definitely somewhere that I would like to visit again, preferably for longer than one afternoon/night next time.

Then it was on to the Hand Job party at Chameleon Arts Cafe, a live music venue in the middle of town, situated above a card shop and next door to a pub called The Bell which claims to be "Nottingham's oldest Inn". I'm not sure who is lying, but another Nottingham pub, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, claims to be the oldest Inn in all of England, so one of them is clearly full of shit.

The Hand Job party was a brilliant night, kicking off with poetry and short story readings from some incredibly talented writers that have all featured in issues of Hand Job zine past and present, and some have also featured in the pages of my own zine PAPER AND INK. First up was Louise Hart who read two poems, the first an anti-Tory rant from the heart and the other about growing up in the punk scene in Coventry. Next up was Scouser Raif Mansell who read an impassioned short story about why he hates London, then Luke Humphries read a short story about larking about with chainsaws at work. After a short break Ben Williams took to the stage to read a short, sharp story about witnessing a man drown. Then the masterful Dean Lilleyman was up - He read an excerpt from his novel, 'Billy and the Devil' and had the crowd eating out the palm of his hand. A truly terrific reading. I have read Dean's novel and can vouch for it's excellence, however after seeing that I now want Dean to read it to me and implore the man to record an audio book! Next up was Holly Watson, who read an excerpt from her excellent blog, The Coventry Conch. Following Dean was a daunting task but Holly absolutely nailed it with a charming story about the time as child when she realised that some people have never seen the sea. After another short break it was the turn of the night's compere, poet Miggy Angel. Miggy is an infectiously passionate bloke and his poems are raw and guttural and were a joy to witness.   

Last but not least was late arrival, Joseph Ridgwell. In his own words he had a "super triple crazy journey" getting to Nottingham from Edinburgh. He made it just in time to read before the band started. He read a couple of poems from his collection Where Are The Rebels and then an excerpt from his outstanding recently published road novel Burrito Deluxe. After Ridgwell was local punk band, White Finger, who tore the roof off the place. A fitting end to what had been a raucous and highly entertaining night. I have been to poetry readings that were more than half empty in rooms where you could hear a pin drop, this place was packed out the whole night and had a great atmosphere. After the readings and the band it was lock-in time. The doors were closed and the ashtrays came out. I haven't been at a lock-in in years and it was nice being able to smoke inside again. After countless drinks and chatting about zines and writing and everything else in between, we all went off our separate ways. Ridgwell was crashing with me at the hostel so we decided to hit a few more bars before calling it a night and that is about where my memory of the night ends...

I woke up in the morning with an immense hangover of death and a badly bruised elbow. Ridgwell was asleep on a sofa out in the hallway and I was asleep on the floor of my room. The beds were untouched. Fuck knows what happened. We checked out of the hostel and set off to find the bus and train stations. Ridgwell and I parted ways and I then had a three hour wait at the bus station for my coach, in which time I managed to puke in to one of their bins. 1pm finally arrived and I was away. I pretty much slept the entire way to London and then when I got there I puked again right outside Victoria bus station. Another two hour wait followed before the one and only coach to Hastings that day. For good measure I then puked again upon arriving in Hastings. Not the first time I have vomited on the streets of this fair town and certainly not the last. I crawled through my front door at 9:45pm and my lovely girlfriend made me a cup of tea. It felt good to get in to bed that night, I can tell you! And my cat must have missed me because he decided to sleep on my face. All in all it was a great night and well worth the trip up to Notts. I'd do it all over again, even the hangover. Bring on the book launch next year!

Grab a copy of Hand Job zine from their website and help support independent literature. Also, I have a poem in it!

Sunday, 11 October 2015


Hand Job is a celebration of British writing, and this is another excellent issue of the grass roots literary zine. I am running out of superlatives to describe Hand Job, each issue just gets better and better and this one is an absolute whopper coming in at 65 pages. My favourite piece is a brilliantly observed story by a writer I had never heard of before, 'Have You Done Earth?' by Amy Victoria Gray, about an alien who visits Earth on a holiday and spends a few unforgettable days in Clacton-on-Sea. Hand Job are throwing a party in Nottingham for the launch of their ninth issue later this month and I will be there so come and say hello! More details on their website -


This zine is a collection of writing, poetry, photography and artwork by a DIY collective from Southampton. The theme of this inaugural issue is friendship and it's a very engaging and interesting read, almost perzine-esque in its honesty and openness. Reading it really made me wish that I knew these people when I lived in Southampton. I wasn't really involved in the DIY scene back then and did not discover my love of zines until I moved to Brighton. Maybe if I had met these guys when I was down there PAPER AND INK would have been born a lot sooner. Who knows?!? To get your hands on a copy of This Zine Is Small email them at

This mini zine is poet Jenn Hart's debut collection. Although small in size and only featuring six poems (with a handy space encouraging the reader to add their own) it packs a powerful punch. Jenn's poems are inspired by "life, feminism and environment" and the only bad thing I can say about it is that I wish it was longer! My favourite one was the very last in the collection; a triumphant middle finger to anyone who dares pigeon hole her. I am hoping to convince Jenn to submit to PAPER AND INK someday, go buy a copy of this zine and you will see why!

This is my new favourite zine! An all encompassing punk zine that features interviews, reviews, recipes, how to guides and even puzzles. The interviews are top notch, not only are there band interviews but there is a great interview with illustrator Mark Bell who does a lot of punk album covers and band merch (I have actually had discussions with Mark about doing a cover for the next issue of PAPER AND INK so watch this space!). There is also an interesting interview with one of the organisers of We Shall Overcome which happened last weekend (if you weren't aware of it, it was a weekend of events and gigs that happened in unison all over the UK in support of those affected most by the government's austerity cuts). This is a wonderful little zine and I'm gutted that I have only just discovered it!