Fountain in Norfolk

You don’t have to be sitting in a rosemary-scented Norfolk garden to enjoy The Fountain in the Forest. But it certainly worked for Alison, who sent through this photo!

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Another Jubilee

Something for the #PlatinumJubilee weekend? My Silver Jubilee short story ‘High-Lands’, performed live at the Galway Mechanics Institute for TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2016 with specially commissioned music from the mighty New Pope.

Featuring (in no particular order) The Stranglers live at the Roundhouse, the Silver Jubilee Spithead Review, a school trip to Scotland, shortwave radio, numbers stations, an alien armada invading the Highlands and Islands, art school, end of term concerts, and class war! — play loud!

‘High-Lands’ was originally commissioned by London Fieldworks and Resonance 104.4fm as part of Remote Performances and broadcast live from Outlandia, a unique artists’ field-station in Glen Nevis, Lochaber, Scotland. Remote Performances was supported by Arts Council England, Nevis Landscape Partnership (Heritage Lottery Programme), Oxford Brookes University, Live Art Development Agency (LADA), and Edinburgh Arts Festival. ‘High-Lands’ is collected in the critical anthology Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture, edited by Bruce Gilchrist, Jo Joelson and Tracey Warr (Ashgate/Routledge, 2015).

But, er, I’d just like to say something. On Tuesday night there’s a gig for the preservation of rights of prisoners. Now, Jubilee year. The origin of Jubilee means ‘set people free’ and they’re not doing it this year. So there’s er, a gig for the Prisoners’ Rights Association at Middlesex Poly on Tuesday night, and it’s featuring 999 and [unclear]. So if you wanna help the prisoners, go along there and have a good time.

The Stranglers, Live (X-cert), United Artists, 1979

‘High-Lands’ draws on research undertaken as part of a loose collaboration with Stuart Brisley, Maya Balcioglu and Dr Sanja Perovic of King’s College London, that was made possible by Tony White’s appointment in 2013-14 as creative entrepreneur in residence (funded by Creativeworks London) and visiting research fellow in the French Department at King’s.

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#PickUpAPageTurner

Does your pool need a Fountain this long Platinum Jubilee holiday weekend? Why not #PickUpAPageTurner . . .

Thanks again, Andrew M for the photo!

June 1st is the launch of National Crime Reading Month. Here’s the blurb:

Run by the Crime Writers’ Association in partnership with national charity The Reading Agency, NCRM is a festival that takes place throughout June across the UK and Ireland, culminating in the prestigious CWA Daggers ceremony at the end of the month. It aims to promote and celebrate crime reading across the genre through exciting events and activities in bookshops, libraries, museums, theatres and online.

Visit the National Crime Reading Month website, or search for the NCRM #PickUpAPageTurner hashtag on all your socials to find out about events near you.

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From a Scottish beach

I’ve missed doing live readings — I’m really looking forward to getting back to that soon.

I especially miss doing live readings on beautiful Roshven beaches on the west coast of Scotland, looking out over a hazy Loch Ailort towards Eigg, visited by pine martens, and dressed only in army surplus boiler suits and insect repellent, with swarms of tiny midges still piling into eyes, nose, mouth, ears… Actually that only happened just the once, and we had to abandon the reading and the video shoot after about a minute!

The photo (deemed a bad’un at the time, but cropped and straightened-up here) is by Bruce Gilchrist. We were all up in Lochaber for London Fieldworks and Resonance 104.4FM’s wonderful Remote Performances project back in 2014.

What fun that was — thanks all ;)

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POPP.040

🤔
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🤞🏼
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Something is afoot…

The morning’s work is done, and then some. So I’ve just spent an enjoyable hour mocking up a rough layout of the next and fortieth — *top secret* — title from Piece of Paper Press.

I’ve been publishing limited editions of new works by artists and writers on POPP since 1994, and still haven’t tired of it.

It’s always still an exciting moment.

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Valerian

Red valerian growing from the concrete balustrade, Thames riverside in Barnes, SW London yesterday evening. It was valerian day in the French Republican Calendar four days ago!

Readers of The Fountain in the Forest may be interested to know that within the 90 chapter scheme of the whole trilogy, valerian corresponds with Chapter 12 of Volume III.

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Back to the Source

Yesterday I went back to the source. I still slightly have to kick myself to believe that three novels have grown out of these particular two small boxes of microfiche.

A top-secret The Fountain in the Forest-related mission had me back at the British Library and consulting 1985 editions of The Guardian newspaper in the National Newspaper Collection. Specifically, I needed to consult Guardian newspapers from March to June of that year, which are miraculously contained in just these two reels of photographic microfiche.

When I started writing The Fountain in the Forest in earnest, I knew that I was on to something exciting, but could never have imagined it would lead to nearly a decade’s work. (More news of the two further forthcoming volumes anon.)

When I was researching the 2012 novella Dicky Star and the Garden Rule in which I tested out the Oulipo-inspired ‘mandated vocabulary’ technique that I subsequently used for ‘The Fountain Trilogy’, the National Newspaper Collection was housed within a great Art Deco warehouse in Colindale, North London. I loved the archaic basement reading rooms, cranky old microfiche viewing machines, and the chits that you had to fill out to request everything. I think that Colindale is still the repository, but the public reading rooms have moved to the BL’s Euston Road site in Central London.

Newspaper archive materials can now be accessed (with a reader pass) via a dedicated and very much updated ‘Newsroom’ at the British Library’s Euston Road site.

It was the first time I’d been to the British Library since before the COVID-19 Pandemic. I realised how much I’d missed the place. I also realised that having lost two-years to the Pandemic, my Reader Pass had expired. Luckily, with thanks to helpful library staff at every turn – in Reader Pass Renewals, the Rare Books and Music reading rooms, and the aforementioned Newsroom – I managed to get through all of my tasks in a head-spinning couple of hours.

Mission accomplished at the British Library, I then walked back down through Bloomsbury to Waterloo, via – of course – Lamb’s Conduit Street, home of Holborn Police Station, where Detective Sergeant Rex King from The Fountain in the Forest is based.

I was very sad to see the Conduit Coffee House – better known as Sid’s – closed down and boarded up. I knew that it had closed down. I’d heard from a friend and Bloomsbury resident that it had been a victim of the first UK COVID-19 Lockdown in 2020. But it was still a shock to see it in this state.

Sid’s is or was a Lamb’s Conduit Street institution. An old fashioned greasy spoon that served Police Station, Hospital, and local community. It was a really useful amenity in the area, and for that reason figures highly in The Fountain in the Forest.

It also made a high-quality, and reliably old-fashioned ‘Full English’. The image above is of their ‘Set Breakfast No. 1’ – my ‘usual’; in fact a rare treat – which was especially fine when washed down with a couple of mugs of their good strong tea.

Thanks all. Happy days.

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Customer feedback

Facebook just pointed out that four years ago we did a lovely event for The Fountain in the Forest with the wonderful Crystal Palace bookshop The Bookseller Crow on the Hill.

I was lucky to share that event with fellow novelist Gregory Norminton who was also talking about his own novel The Devil’s Highway.

Gregory’s novel (his fifth) is set in the kind of ancient Surrey heath-lands that were on my doorstep growing up. Gregory is a great and thoughtful novelist and a very good speaker about writing, so it was a real pleasure to appear together.

But this also reminded me that The Bookseller Crow was the source of my best ever customer/reader review, which Jonathan Main of The Bookseller Crow posted on Instagram at the time.

In case you were ever wondering whether reader reviews and feedback make a difference, and if they are ever passed on by bookshops, the answer to both questions is Yes.

Sharing here with immense thanks to Jonathan and Gerry for the feedback and support — it means a lot.

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Visit the Bookseller Crow events page

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The Toxic Camera, by Jane and Louise Wilson

The Toxic Camera, a short film by Jane and Louise Wilson is showing in London until 5 June 2022 as part of their excellent and timely exhibition at Maureen Paley, which opened Friday 29 April.

It is very highly recommended. And here’s a great interview with Jane and Louise Wilson from the Financial Times, 30 April.

Here (L) is an installation shot I took at the opening.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently for obvious reasons about Jane and Louise’s extraordinary and visionary research and making process, and that work we did a decade ago. The (literally) hundreds of pages of transcripts from interviews they’d conducted in Ukraine. So much memorable material that I was privileged to have access to for my part of the script.

It is beyond sadness to reflect on the current hellscape of inhumanity, the many thousands of lives lost, ruined and endangered, contrasted with the care and diligence of nuclear workers on the Chernobyl site whose own safety may now be compromised. The many conversations ended, and the conversations that simply would not be possible now, or ever again.

Here’s a link to Maureen Paley’s press release.

If you’re planning a visit to see Jane and Louise Wilson’s exhibition, you could do what I did and also book for the rolling screenings of Lumen by Sutapa Biswas, which is at Autograph until 4 June!

You can read more about my occasional script work with artists on a new, dedicated ‘script writer / editor’ page on my site. It lists my various credits, alongside testimonials etc. from the artists I’ve worked with.

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Buy The Fountain in the Forest via publisher Faber and Faber

Visit Tony White’s new ‘script writer / editor’ page

If you’d like to receive invites to forthcoming events and launches, sign up for my occasional newsletter