Recommended: Bad Wisdom

Bad Wisdom: The Lighthouse At The Top Of The World
Book by Bill Drummond & Mark Manning (Penguin, 1996)

It’s winter 1992 and self-proclaimed Zen Masters Bill Drummond, formerly of The KLF, Mark Manning aka Zodiac Mindwarp and former Jesus Jones roadie and Falklands War veteran Gimpo embark on a drive to the North Pole in a rental Ford Escort whereupon they intend to lay a picture of Elvis Presley on the ground, perform a kung-fu dance, light some joss sticks and save Earth. Written as part factual-ish on-the-road account and part fantasy adventure, the mix of endless driving, bingo, daytime radio and warped carnage (Viking ice-biker chainsaw battles, lakes of blood, extreme Nordic mind trips where you swim with dolphins for a billion years) means that once the journey is over, it’ll feel pointless ever booking a holiday again. LG

Brighton rock: The Great Escape festival

By Lee Gale

Seagulls pinching chips from kids is one thing but swiping a cheese-and-onion sandwich from the hand of a ravenously hungry adult is a dangerous new development. A flash of feathers and a flap of webbed feet and it’s off. To add insult to injury, a punch aimed at the departing bird goes wildly astray and for a moment, I am an unwitting and unpaid comedy act at Brighton’s Great Escape festival. Naturally, titters follow from lunchtime drinkers. The seagull flaps its mighty wings just twice and lands on the roof of a nearby Pizza Express: job done. Continue reading Brighton rock: The Great Escape festival

Birds of Snowdonia

Illustrations Edwyn Collins  Words Lee Gale

In 2005, Edwyn Collins suffered two strokes, the result of brain haemorrhages caused by high blood pressure. To begin his rebuilding process, Edwyn picked up a pencil and pad and began drawing birds.

As a child, Edwyn was a keen twitcher and even reared an abandoned fledgling greenfinch in his Dundee bedroom, feeding it a watery mix of wild-bird food Swoop. The female greenfinch, named Tweety Pie, would start its sweet song at 5am, waking the household up in the process. Tweety Pie later made a nest in the garden and, if Edwyn left his bedroom window open, would call in.

Continue reading Birds of Snowdonia

Is there a Mr Hodges in the house? [2000 interview with Mike Hodges, film director]

The man who made Get Carter in 1971 is not in the best of moods. Mike Hodges’ journey from Dorset to London has been dogged by train-company failures. Spur-of-the-moment timetable changes mean that Hodges’ nerves are rattled and as it’s 10.30am, it’s too early to go to the pub. If the man who brought Jack Carter to life is hacked off, we’d better be careful. We don’t want to be thrown out of the window of this Leicester Square hotel like Alf Roberts was at that Gateshead car park.

Continue reading Is there a Mr Hodges in the house? [2000 interview with Mike Hodges, film director]

‘Tunes Splits The Atom’ by MC Tunes Versus 808 State, ZTT, 1990

Back in 1990, it didn’t seem overly crazy that MC Tunes and 808 State would sample the bassline from The Stone Roses’ “I Am The Resurrection” for summer hit “Tunes Splits The Atom”. All were Manchester acts and you’d assume that an agreement had been reached between legal parties prior to recording. However, this being Manchester, permission had only been granted vocally at an actual party – the Haçienda. Continue reading ‘Tunes Splits The Atom’ by MC Tunes Versus 808 State, ZTT, 1990

The Bunnymonster! [2002 interview with Ian McCulloch]

It’s 5pm and Ian McCulloch, the Echo & The Bunnymen singer, is sitting in the bar of a hotel in Kensington, wearing shades. He’s been on Bloody Marys since 12 noon to counteract the previous evening’s punishment. To say he’s had one hour’s sleep, Mac is amazingly lucid. He’s switched to Guinness for the interview. [2002 interview] Continue reading The Bunnymonster! [2002 interview with Ian McCulloch]