My 2015 was a beautiful barrage of interesting experiences, events, thoughts and conversations. Some I internalised, some I told to friends in pubs and some I wrote about.
First off a big thanks to Vice, Noisey and The Huffington Post for backing these adventures:
I went to meet the anti-gentrification protesters that were squatting the old 12 Bar in Soho, talked to surreal comedian Kim Noble about human connection, death and shitting in churches, visited the Grow Heathrow anti-expansion protest camp and partied with them on their fifth birthday, investigated the spooky and lucrative ‘haunted’ doll trade and thriving community, went to one of the bloodiest and most brutal gigs I’ve ever been to, interviewed the talented Sanna Charles who has been photographing Slayer fans for over a decade, wrote about the sad demise of the pub bullshitter, fell deep into the mesmerising world of professional gamblers, hung out with the LBU, London Hardcore’s elite party squad, got lost in a paradigm-shifting conversation with John Higgs about an alternative history of the 20th Century, was engulfed and inspired by a band I’d never heard of and the alternate universe they’ve created for their fans, chatted to Derek Ridgers about photographing London club kids for five decades, found out how you can prank the worldwide Anime community using a 13 year old’s comic, tried to get to the bottom of the White Guys With Dreadlocks/cultural appropriation discussion, and met Hevisaurus, the Finnish dinosaur metal band for children.
I’ve written several more things that are waiting to go online and I am torso-deep in others that I am very excited about. I also put some poetry online for the first time (he says, as his head disappears up his own arsehole), and released some music.
My favourites were:
I investigated the buying, selling and adopting of allegedly haunted dolls. This took me over a year to complete, I spoke to several characters from the British paranormal scene as well as buyers and sellers. My research eventuated in me going to meet the elusive Jayne Harris, a collector, trader and all-round oracle, at a hotel in Worcester, along with some of her dolls. It was enlightening, funny, weird and at times unsettling…
John Higgs is an author I really like and I got to sit for hours in a coffee shop with him and talk about the last hundred years. His book Stranger Than We Can Imagine is a radical and enthralling journey through the murkier waters of our last century, covering areas such as quantum entanglement, cubism, Alastair Crowley, relativity, psychedelics, “Emperor Norton” and chaos theory. It got deep.
This is tale that encompasses everything I love about music. I met a band called Fearless Vampire Killers and got lost in the fictional, yet very real, world they’d created for their fans; The novels, the fan fiction, the music, the comic strips, the secret social network, the meet-and-greets, the storytelling, the escapism and the friendships.
Grow Heathrow is a protest camp that was set up five years ago to fight against the expansion of Heathrow airport. What started as a couple of tents and placards, has now evolved into self sustainable, off-the-grid community, with permanent residents, bicycle-fuelled washing machines, greenhouses, unbelievably well-built mud huts, workshops for visitors, DIY seminar spaces, among other things. It’s a tiny utopia which offers a true alternative way to live. After only spending a day there, it’s never been far from my thoughts.
A poem I wrote when feeling hopeful.