I found this old friend – thought lost – yesterday evening, while looking for something else. It’s my favourite pencil! Well, I’m a writer; what can I say? Actually, maybe it’s my second-favourite.
How about you? Is it just me, or do other people have favourite pens or pencils?
This is a beauty. It’s a vintage Conté Criterium, cast aluminium mechanical pencil, loaded with a 2mm 4B Staedtler lead. This itself was a replacement for a vintage Bic Criterium (found in the deepest recesses of an old stationery shop in Vence, France, ca. 2000) of near-identical design, with cast body, milled grip, etc. although the Bic version – should you be lucky enough to find one – comes unpolished, with a brass cone and unrounded corners (and is thus, to my eye at least, marginally more beautiful).
Both the Bic and latterly the Conté have accompanied me on numerous research trips to the British Library (where, as you probably know, the reading rooms have a ‘pencils only’ policy) and to other archives and collections, and have been used to annotate and correct the manuscripts and proofs of every book I’ve written, from Foxy-T onwards.
This Conté Criterium came from a stationery shop in Ukraine, via eBay!
“It is very interesting, often very exciting, mostly very confusing, always steadily increasing in meaning.” (Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans, p335)
Thanks to instigators Anna Barham and Irene Revell, and all fellow readers, for last night’s instalment in the continuing yearlong live reading of Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans. This project started in January as a low-key gathering in Anna Barham’s London living room, for a live audience comprised only of the dozen or so fellow participants, and broadcast online at annabarham.net. Since March it has continued online as a strictly cameras off, audio-only group reading, broadcast for a few hours every two weeks to anyone and no-one.
They are all of them themselves and they repeat it and I hear it: a yearlong reading of Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans (1925). Organised by Irene Revell and Anna Barham. Next instalment: 8:00pm, Tuesday 19 May 2020.
Happy birthday to Resonance FM, which on 1 May 2020 celebrated 18 years of continuous broadcasting on 104.4fm. It is such an achievement after 18 years still to be both an indispensable community radio station and a unique experiment in sound art and arts broadcasting. Congratulations to everyone involved!
There was a day of special broadcasts to mark 18 years on 104.4FM, 1 May 2020, midnight-to-midnight, featuring loads of really great shows, special archive recordings and one-offs. Here’s the schedule.
I was really pleased to be part of this day of celebration, with two pieces neither of which had been broadcast on the radio before.
05:30 — a never-broadcast radio edit of my short story from A Puppet Show by Steven Hull for Glow: Santa Monica 2013. Steven Hull is a wonderful artist based in LA whose work often includes huge collaborative projects. My story ‘Apocryphal Fragment from the Lives of the Conquistadors’ was commissioned by Steven to be performed as a huge psychedelic puppet show on Santa Monica Beach for the Glow Festival, with accompanying music commissioned from the legendary Gibby Haynes. Gibby and I never spoke or corresponded in advance or compared notes in any way, and we didn’t share anything with Steven, there wasn’t time. Yet when our files crossed over, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing: somehow the words and music seemed to illustrate each other. Interviewed on the record sleeve, Gibby Haynes said that he ‘intentionally did not read the story then was shocked to find out how much the writing inspired the sounds.’ This radio edit brings the two tracks together.
20:00 — my short story ‘High-Lands’ performed live at the Mechanics’ Institute, Galway for TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2016. ‘High-Lands’ is performed here with live musical accompaniment from New Pope, joined by Colm Bohan on percussion and Stephen Connolly on organ and guitar. Recorded live at the Galway Mechanics’ Institute, November 11 2016. Sound engineer: John Burke.
‘High-Lands’ was written for radio, and was originally commissioned by London Fieldworks and Resonance 104.4fm as part of Remote Performances, with an original version broadcast live from Outlandia, a unique artists’ field-station in Glen Nevis, Lochaber, Scotland with an improvised live soundscape accompaniment by Johny Brown. Find out more about ‘High-Lands’ here…
A couple of years ago the arts director and producer Claire Doherty invited me to contribute to a new British Council essay collection, Where Strangers Meet: An international collection of essays on arts in the public realm. Specifically, Doherty asked me to write about A Place Free Of Judgement, my 2016 libraries live-streaming collaboration with Blast Theory.
The resulting essay, ‘A Teenage Takeover of Libraries’, is available here:
Claire Doherty really has done a great job with this collection. Where Strangers Meet includes contributions from Tania Bruguera, Nina Edge, Lynn Frogget, Gabriella Gomez-Mont, Dave Haslam, Paul Heritage, Shriya Malhotra, Omar Nagati, David Olusoga, Papa Omotayo, Jay Pather, Diba Salam, Jennifer Stein, Karolin Tampere, Kate Tyndall, and me.
Subject matter across the collection includes the making of Jeremy Deller’s We’re Here Because We’re Here, how music venues enrich city life, and decolonising public monuments and statuary, as well as public art in Cairo, Lagos and Rio de Janeiro, and much more.
Where Strangers Meet has been soft-launched with events in Bristol and Liverpool, and copies of a (very) limited edition box set of all the essays are available to read in public libraries in Liverpool. (I wish they were available more widely.) I understand that there is a plan to make the essays available as an online anthology. As soon as I hear that this is available I’ll post a link and share on social media.
ICYMI, here’s the blurb about A Place Free Of Judgement:
During 2016 Blast Theory and acclaimed author Tony White worked with young people in libraries in Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire, and Staffordshire to reimagine libraries, storytelling and their place in the world. On 29 October 2016, over the course of nine hours from 3pm to midnight, the young people took control of their local libraries, and performed live to a worldwide audience via an interactive live stream.
Blast Theory and I also collaborated on a book about the project that includes my exclusive YA novella ‘Zombies Ate My Library’, which follows the lives of four young people in the West Midlands—Alice, Gareth, Tommy and Rukhsana—as they plot a sleepover in a haunted library. What could possibly go wrong?
A Place Free Of Judgement by Blast Theory and Tony White, was developed with ASCEL West Midlands and Arts Connect. It was made in collaboration with young people and librarians in Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire, and Staffordshire and created in partnership with young people and librarians in Solihull, Shropshire, Dudley and the University of Worcester. The project was made with support from Arts Council England Lottery Funding, Arts Connect the Bridge organisation for the West Midlands and the University of Worcester.
Watch a video about the project here:
If you’re having trouble getting hold of print editions, or you just prefer reading on your chosen device, ebooks of my Faber and Faber novels The Fountain in the Forest (2018) and Foxy-T (2003) are available from all the usual outlets.
Here are the preview links for Kindle readers:
Praise for The Fountain in the Forest:
“It is absolutely terrific . . . it can be enjoyed at the level of a thriller, and yet it does all these other fascinating things, and best of all it’s the first in a trilogy . . . It’s such a good book.” Andy Miller, Backlisted Podcast
Praise for Foxy-T:
“Foxy-T is one of the best London novels you’ll ever get to read” Toby Litt, Herald on Sunday
NB Other ebook retailers are available – but I wanted to test out these new WordPress Block-edit links. If you try them, do please let me know how they work! I’d love to hear how you get on. Thank you ;)