Wednesday, 1 November 2017

October 2017

On the first day of October I was like ‘hey, maybe I should do Inktober!’ And then did an ink drawing so terrible that I immediately decided not to. I’m not going to share that here because it’s TOO TERRIBLE. But anyway… Inktober was a thing started a few years ago by one artist who wanted to return to trad hand inking skills by forcing themselves to do a drawing a day for the month. Since then it’s expanded massively and at this point, isn’t even strictly about using ink (although lots of people still do), and isn’t even strictly about analogue processes, with some people working digitally… It seems mostly about creating a drawing a day, and as I reminded myself after my inky failure, I’ve been doing this EVERY SINGLE DAY for coming up on 5 years now.

So that made me feel less bad about failing to inktober, given that, really, I am inktobering anyway just by continuing this drawing a day project, and in fact, I have been inkvembering, inkembering, inkanuarying and…. Anyway, you get the point.

I was trying to explain this whole project to someone who I admire creatively earlier this month. He is prolific in his own creative endeavours and I wanted to make it sound like this super cool thing that I do, but fear I ended up just sounding incredibly egotistical, at one point suggesting that if I manage to keep this nonsense up until I die, maybe someone will take all my silly drawings and put them in an archive somewhere. (I still do hope that might happen. Egotistical though it is.)

Anyway, I did another shitty ink drawing on the second just to confirm I wasn’t cut out for this inktober malarkey, and then abandoned the entire attempt on the third and did a collage…

Over the last few years I’d built up a fairly hefty stack of loose leaf drawings — all my freelance commissions, personal projects, things for Alex, things for my main job… some really intricate, fiddly stuff that I obviously wanted to keep, but some stuff that was just sketches or basic scans to be improved digitally. Finally had a sort and got rid of the stuff that wasn’t worth keeping, and put the stuff that was worth keeping into a much more easily searchable folder system. Further source for smugness.

Our friends Dan and Zoë came to stay!

They took Charlie out for a very long, very muddy walk, and I LOVE it when people do this for me, because walking this doggo 2 or 3 hours a day gets tiring for me and Alex and Justin, and it’s so lovely to have other people do it every once in a while. (Obviously guests are not obligated though, please don’t feel like I’ll force this on you if you come and stay)… Ridiculously, even though I love it when people do this for me, I also kind of miss it/Charlie while they’re gone, there’s NO PLEASING ME apparently

It’s all been smugness so far this month, but ALSO MAYBE I AM AWFUL. I don’t know. Sometimes I become filled with the fear that I am actually terrible in some way, and sometimes several of those terriblenesses come to breaking point at once and I do a sad drawing about it. Spending too much money on nice things for myself while the world burns? Check. Too many selfies? Check. Staying up too late doing pointless internet browsing? Check. Becoming listless/distracted because of lack of sleep and making basic errors at work? Check. Turning down social engagements because of anxiety/laziness? Check. Also Alex says I’m ‘Full of hate’, which I dispute, but will accept that maybe I have a slight hate overspill sometimes.

But you know what, maybe I just needed to be gentler with myself for a little while. Eat better, sleep more, work a little less, make time for lovely things. (Not going to say I’ve fixed everything but sometimes recognising you might be awful and remembering to try and change that is half the battle — the other half obviously being actually changing, which is... harder.)

Also, much though I am a persistent rain complainer (rain is one of the main things Alex thinks I am filled with hate for, and they’re right, because I am), I quite like Autumn. Everything gets quieter and smaller and my wardrobe always works best for this time of year. I like the chill in the air before it gets properly cold and I like the distant smell of bonfires and dead leaves and winter.

Justin has watched most of this year’s Great British Bake Off with me (and Charlie) and it’s been nice to have someone to share it with. (I still haven't had a chance to watch the final though so no spoilers please!)

Alex ended up getting entered into the Yorkshire Carcassone championships… It’s played with draw-3 rules, and a chess clock, so we did a bit of practice using these rules and it is SO MUCH MORE FUN that way. Highly recommend. Also the local pub sometimes serve bangin’ momos but on a super ad-hoc basis, so it was a delight to FINALLY get some in my belly.

Caaaannnn’tttt connnncentraaaate because I’m tooooo excited

About going to London again! I love London.

Had a lovely meander on Saturday with Alfred before he transformed into Daedelus for an incredible Village Underground lineup featuring him, Lapalux and Iglooghost. I really really suck at late shows but somehow managed to stay standing up and even dancing until 3am which I have never managed before and will likely never manage again, but guys, IT WAS WORTH IT 🙃

After a lovely Sunday, Monday was time for (somewhat) serious-business-face, with a couple of work related meetings and a couple of fun related meetings. Some of my best people are in London so it’s always a treat to make it down there. That was the day of that nightmarish desert sandstorm which turned the sky a nauseating shade of yellow too. Briefly convinced it was apocalypse time.

I’ve definitely mentioned this on all the social media channels already, but we’ve done a reprint of our old house’s vegan cook-zine, the Maison D’arc Manche cookbook. Previously it was full colour print but we’ve switched things up to riso, so it’s kind of cooler and kind of weirder, and double the recipes in one! HMU if you want a copy, I’m selling them for a fiver inc. postage (and I’ll be selling them at zine fairs in the coming year!)

Little repeat pattern pondering.

I went to Cardiff for a couple of days 20th – 22nd. Land of my Fathers, innit. I’ve only actually been there once before, almost exactly ten years ago, to visit my then boyfriend for the first time. I have a lot of FEELS (good ones, but feelsy ones) around the place as a result of that, and this going back was kind of a chance for more of that. I drew some drawings about these feels which are kind of good but also kind of terrible and maybe also kind of personal so I’m going to keep them to myself (I kind of regret drawing about feels when I could maybe have drawn about buildings or weather or music or food or any of the other wonderful experiences I had over the weekend, but ho hum, the heart wants what the heart wants)

Got back to rain rain rain. While I was away the flood sirens had sounded in Hebden (initially just as a test but then for real). This place is basically ALL RIVERS so it’s hardly surprising how flood prone it is, and we knew this when we moved here, but still. It’s kind of terrifying how fast those rivers fill up sometimes.

The Trades Club in Hebden Bridge do Thai food a few nights a week and it’s amazing and cheap and nourishing and has never failed to make me feel about 5x better than I did before I went in (plus, despite only having lived here 9 months you ALWAYS meet people you know in the Trades which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how social you’re feeling)

After my couple of weekends of too much fun in Cardiff and London (but more specifically, many hours spent on public transport), I succumbed to the inevitable. Snot. And feels. And then more snot and more feels.


Feeling a bit (but not much) better, heaved myself over to the Egg Factory to hear the lovely Sarah Corbett talk about her book/movement ‘Craftivism’ (which in all honesty I was a little cynical about, but now I think she’s doing great work, you should check it out). Tried not to cough all over everyone.

Went back to the Egg Factory the next day for Amanda’s birthday and mostly lurked in the corner with Amy eating loads of cake and watching people play ‘bat the ferret down the trousers’ 👀

FORGOT HOW CLOCKS CHANGE WORKS and ended up atop a large hill in the middle of nowhere with Charlie in the dark. (Alex saw this drawing before I added the caption and thought I was quietly having a breakdown, but it’s okay, it’s literal darkness not metaphorical darkness, I’m actually fine)

Elly and Jak came to stay for a couple of days but I was horrendously distracted and still quite ill and not really a very good host, SORRY GUYS

Just done a day of November and it’s going okay so far. Fingers crossed for forward momentum and good things to come...

Sunday, 1 October 2017

September 2017

WINTER IS COMING (but I'm not miserable yet)

Maybe it's because I MADE A FRIEND!

I may be doing myself down here, as I guess I've probably had a small number of what could technically be referred to as friends here in Hebden Bridge for a few months now. But no one had taken me on an outing before, and that's what friends are for, right?

Me and Rachel had a fun day of adventures... she took me to Halifax with her and we went to loads of plumbers merchants! Woohoo! (My tap broke and we needed a particularly tricky to get hold of part, and what are friends for if not driving you round industrial estates to speak to lots of burly plumbers about quarter turns)

That evening was the Egg Factory social, we played games and ate chilli, and it was lovely.

Rachel offered me a lift home as she passes my house, and I was like 'Yay, she's not sick of me yet!'
On our drive home, we saw a man lying in the road in central Hebden. We pulled over because... was he okay? We, and some blokes from a nearby pub went to check. He was clearly very drunk, but maybe also hurt, as he'd obviously fallen over and possibly hit his head... Not entirely knowing what else to do, we called an ambulance. A passing off-duty policeman joined us, and agreed we'd made the right decision. We then all waited OVER AN HOUR IN THE COLD WITH THIS DRUNK MAN for the ambulance and no ambulance came.

Obviously having described the guy and the situation, they'd decided he was low priority... And the NHS has been so decimated that no one could come. No ambulance, no paramedic, no help of any kind. An hour on, the guy could still barely stand, although his condition hadn't deteriorated in any way, so he clearly wasn't seriously injured. No taxi would take him in case he did a vom, which was fair, but what the hell were we supposed to do, just leave him lying there incapable in the cold?

We'd managed to get out of him that his sister in law lived about 5 minutes drive away, so in the end with the help of the policeman we loaded him into Rachel's car and took him over there, which was simultaneously far above and beyond the call of duty, but to leave him behind would have been like... not cool... and there wasn't really any middle ground... Grim.

A lot of residual horror because I've always been lucky enough to live in a country where you think that if you need help, you can call a number and help will come. And yes, most of the time, for major things, it still does. But this man needed help. Lots of help of lots of different kinds, and society is failing him, and countless others.

I've been having a lot of feelings of powerlessness this month around the slow but systematic dismantling of this country's support systems... The NHS, the benefits system, all the protections that we all assume will be there for us if we need them, and which most of us hope are currently helping the most vulnerable. They're not there, or they're barely there. The most vulnerable in our society are being failed and we can't even see it, because most of us are sheltered from it. There's a creeping horror building and I don't know how we're going to get out of this mess.

Anyway, back in our sheltered little bubble of niceness, Alex battered and deep fried some of that new vegan halloumi and it was A++++

Anna and Amy came to visit, yay!

I think I mentioned I got stung by a wasp towards the end of August. It went kinda weird and gross and I started freaking out because a) infections are horrible, b) antibiotics mess up my insides and c) fears of an antibiotic resistance induced apocalyse haunt me, so it's pretty much a lose lose lose situation. Grim.

Also got really excited about getting momos at the Fox and Goose but then they didn't have any and I was sad and got Indian food instead, but then proceeded to spill rice everywhere. And we came last in the pub quiz. OH DEAR.

Yeah, it went real gross. At this point I did go to the doctor.

TMI time guys: I have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and really didn't want to take antibiotics, because as well as killing the gross wasp sting bacteria they're meant to kill, they can also kill the 'friendly bacteria' in your gut, which for some people makes the symptoms of IBS worse. My IBS has been getting kind of worse and worse over the last few months in a way that I'd mostly been ignorning and hoping would go away...

Anyway, I took the antibiotics because I didn't want my leg to rot and fall off, and HEY HO my IBS is LOADS better, it's either fluke coincidence, or my gut had actually got all full of unfriendly bacteria and this cleared them out. Woohoo!

Went to see hero Nat before she moves down to London for BEST JOB EVER, I am very sad to lose her from the North but it's pretty hard to argue with her life choices right now. We shopped some shops and ate some burgers and all was good.

Alex still on that deep frying game, but with added exciting other yellow extras. YES.

Tabled at Leeds zine fair next to hero Jade (Queerarcana). Wonderful day, spent all my profits on other people's zines and chinese takeaway. As it should be.


Every couple of weeks a couple of lovely chaps come along our street and clean the windows on the street side of our house. I asked them if they'd do the tricky to access back side (fnarr), and for a tenner they cleaned them ALL INSIDE AND OUT WTF, best tenner I've spent all month.

Then I had to have a filling because an old filling had gone wrong. The last (and only) time I had fillings, I had 5 done all at once and it was a nightmare... Getting just the one done was... just totally fine. Like... so fine that I was almost elated, because when they told me they needed to do it, and they could do it there and then, I was like 'oh no oh no oh no' and got all adrenaliney, and then it was just totally okay.

Then I went and had chips and curry from the non-lardy chip shop in halifax and bit my cheek loads because my face was still numb.

I've always kind of liked autumn, and I'd sort of forgotten that this year, because I'd been thinking too much about how much I'm dreading winter. I think it's a residual childhood thing of starting to get all psyched up for Christmas, which is ridiculous because I'm not even that excited about Christmas these days, but still, the crisp coldness, the smell of damp leaves and decay, distant bonfires... it's all associated with a certain excitement and contentment and cosiness that may in fact be fictional these days, but still, the feels are there.

Okay, this may take... a little explaining?
Just over a year ago, me, Alex and Justin got a bit over excited about the French Revolutionary Calendar. It was a short-lived alternative calendar system which ran in France between the years of 1793 and 1805... The year still has 12 months, each month has 30 days, and each month is made up of 3 weeks each consisting of 10 days. The months are called things like 'misty', 'frosty', 'rainy', 'germination' and 'summer heat', and EVERY SINGLE DAY is assigned an individual object, mostly foods, plants, animals and tools.

It's entirely impractical as an actual calendar but REALLY NICE, and we've been enjoying it all year. Oh yeah, and the year starts in late September. To balance out with the *actual* length of a year, there are 5 'festival days' at the end of each French Revolutionary year, before the new year kicks off on September 22nd (or thereabouts).

We had planned in advance to celebrate these as a house, according to their names. We did... Not particularly well, but the above and following few days are a chronicle of that.

First up, Le Fete De La Vertue! (The festival of virtue).

I've been running for the last few months, and challenged Justin and Alex to a short race. Justin won, because he's taller and better suited to short bursts of speed, but rest assured that in the event of a zombie apocalypse where the zombies are slow but persistant, I will be the last to die.

Next up was Genius. We failed at genius. We were gonna go to the pub quiz again (the one we came last at previously), but Justin was too PhD stressed and Alex had a terrible hayfever attack.

Irrelevant to genius, I ran my first ever 10k! I have NO IDEA HOW because before and since I've barely been able to struggle past 6k in one hit, but I think the knowledge that I'd be able to do a super smug post on social media afterwards powered me through.

Next up on the festival of labour, we all worked really hard and then went to the Trades Club for our dinner (socialist trade union club, appropriate)

On the festival of opinion, Justin's parents came to visit and we all agreed that Charlie is just THE BEST BOY

For the festival of honour Justin and Alex BOTH WENT AWAY AND LEFT ME so fine, whatever.

And with that, HAPPY NEW (French Revolutionary) YEAR!

I woke up at about 5 in the morning, and suddenly realised I could see the stars, incredibly bright and so many thousands of them. I am notoriously unsentimental about celestial stuff, but I had a brief sleepy moment. Mostly because, despite having lived here for 8 months now, I'd never seen them before, because IT'S ALWAYS SO DAMN CLOUDY (Alex said it's my fault for 'not looking' but seriously I really hadn't seen them at all until this night.)

Really enjoyed going to Thought Bubble comics festival for the first time. Finally got my amazing new blade pen from Dan Berry... As you should all know by now, my actual drawing skills are... still not great? (Hence one of the main reasons why I do this daily visual diary project, to make sure I'm practicing some form of mark making every day rather than just being tied to my screen)... These are terrible portraits of some of my fav comics folk who I met, but I enjoyed using the pen very much!

Talking of getting better at things... despite ostensibly having no interest in or desire to do schmaltzy watercolours of the bloody COUNTRYSIDE of all things, I live here now, I draws what I sees, and I have been enjoying creating crude renditions of new views I see every once in a while.

Tried a self-portrait with the blade pen. Perhaps intentionally making myself look a little elderly and blobby. I've been doing some freelance work designing posters for Students Union venues at one of the big London Universities. It's fun but also I am old now, hello.

(A jungbomb is like a jagerbomb but made out of jungfrau, a cheaper version of jagermeister. The more you know!)

It's your boy Charlie, blade pen style. Better than many other drawings I've done of him anyway...

A day in which everything turned out slightly better than expected.

The world is a big scary place with lots of big scary animals, and Charlie has opinions on them all.

Had such a great time at the Egg Factory clothes swap, got my A/W 17 looks sorted. Those folks have been wonderful to me ever since I rolled up on their doorstep back in February demanding friendship in exchange for contributions to their Wednesday pot-luck lunches. It's such a wonderful community and I'm lucky to be part of it!

Now... Hi October. Be good to me please. x

Thursday, 31 August 2017

August 2017

Well it's been a long hazy summer in Hebden Bridge and August has been particularly... Who am I kidding, it's still been basically raining all the time BUT ACTUALLY LITTLE LESS AND I'M DEALING WITH IT MUCH BETTER GUYS

In some ways, the problem this month has been not enough water rather than too much, but more on that later...

First, we went to the grand reopening day of Halifax's Piece Hall. It's an incredible building, traditionally it was a place that the region's famed textile makers would go to sell their wares (pieces), with a huge central courtyard surrounded by mini units that one could hire out on a day by day basis. In recent years it's fallen into disrepair and shabbiness, but it's been recently renovated and it looks LOVELY. (True to form it was chucking it down with rain but we still had fun)

(The rain eased off and I got some chips. Yes yes yes. Plus I'm wearing my amazing expensive raincoat which I saved up lots of money for, and now I feel ready to face the Yorkshire winter)

But then OH WHAT the boiler stopped working, and let me just say you guys, THIS HAS BEEN AWFUL AND I STILL DON’T KNOW HOW WE COPED. I know, I know, we are privileged to live in a warm house with hot water at all, but showers and baths are a huge part of mine, Alex and Justin’s mental as much as physical health regimes. I know it sounds like I’m being ridiculous here, but, spoiler alert, this was not fixed until AUGUST 22ND, which is a full 3 weeks, and it was AWFUL. (No one entirely to blame either, just bad luck, although the landlord could have been more generous and just paid for a new boiler, which is clearly what’s needed, but ho hum)

We escaped no-hot-water for a little bit with a trip down to London for Nine Worlds Geekfest. The tube train there went right past Grenfell Tower, and honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced such a visceral horror as seeing that building so close. I’ve been feeling a lot of feelings about everything surrounding what’s happened there, and this was very very real. Housing in this country is precarious in so many ways which is simply shouldn’t be. Grenfell is one very vivid, dark example of our broken system which prioritises profit over people’s safety and wellbeing. I still feel sick.

Nine Worlds is always great. I escaped for a little while on the Friday for a work meeting with a freelance client (check me out), lunch with lovely Wes, and some brief London wanderings. I love being in London.

One of the things we do at Nine Worlds is to (along with a few other people) run the boardgames lounge, where con attendees can come and take some time out and play one of a huge range from the collection that Alex and the 5 or 6 other people who organise it bring. We always have to heave huge suitcases of games with us but it’s totally worth it for the fun they bring to so many people who attend.

After a lovely weekend we headed back north with our tired faces on.

Justin burns toast more often than I feel is normal. I mentioned this to Alex who pointed out that the dials on our toaster are extraordinarily sensitive, and sometimes have been turned up for toasting things that need more time, resulting in ‘the perfect toast storm’

Two entirely unrelated guests on one day, what a TREAT!

Kier stayed for another day and we had a lovely walk.

Did a zine fair but it was extraordinarily quiet and pretty poorly promoted, although I did make back my table fee, which is what matters, right? Drew this during one of the (near constant) quiet spells…

Trains time again! Back down to Brighton (and thank goodness, an escape from ongoing sad kettle/bucket baths situation)

Brighton was work work work work work with our busiest time of year in my main job, but it was wonderful to catch up with a few friends while I was there. Me and Elly had the loveliest dinner/gossip I’ve had in ages. (This looks NOTHING like her though)

Work stress mounting but another lovely evening catching up with Matthew, and eating delicious pizza from pizzaface, which I have so missed.

I love my job, but this time of year is always hard. All the harder for new colleagues, missing colleagues, new systems, not having been in the office and getting used to different working patterns. To be honest, I was super productive and got loads of stuff done, but at this time of year it’s never enough, and all my failings felt super exaggerated being back there.

But in the evening I had a run, and finally understood a tiny bit of why people run other than for fitness reasons. I’m not gonna say my mind emptied or I had some kind of wonderful epiphany, but running those old, familiar, but distant streets late at night, in the dark, alone, with an ease I could never have imagined (less hills in Brighton than Hebden, innit), was a special kind of something.

Still, my trip to Brighton was not restful, and I spent the journey home pondering on ANXIETY and how it manifests itself and what that means. (FWIW, all the ones in ‘level 2’ fluctuate a lot and are often entirely absent and/or replaced by entirely different things — I do love Alex very much, Hebden is lovely and right now I feel like I am achieving things creatively, but my brain does like to challenge me on all of the above quite frequently, which is just a part of being me I guess.)

Re Level 3 though, we're utterly fucked.

Just wailing this, while sitting forlornly in the bottom of an empty bathtub sloshing cupfuls of lukewarm water from a bucket onto my armpits

I'm not normally one for getting excited about such things, but I've got enough friends in the US now that I did start feeling a little left out...

Took Charlie to the vets for his annual injections and he was the bravest best boy. (We had to wait quite a while and every time the vet came out to call the next doggo in he kept getting all excited thinking it was his turn HE'S SUCH A SWEETHEART)

Guys I'm gonna take this opportunity to promote my new etsy shop, I just made a bunch more co-ops tea towels and there's some other lovely stuff there too.

Also SOON there will also be a new mini zine all about condiments. In these troubled times it's good to just spend some time thinking really intensely about condiments.

Started panicing yesterday because my left knee really hurt, and I was like 'is this it is my knee ruined now forever', but it's okay, it's feeling better today. Back to not paying any attention to my knees again till it's too late!

I hope you've all had a wonderful summer. I'm kind of looking forwards to my first month since about March of actually just staying in Hebden Bridge. Going down to London and Brighton loads has been wonderful but it'll probably be good to focus down here a little, get stuff done (and I'll be heading down south again in October for sure :)