March has been about exploring my new area a little. I went on several hikes, including one with the ramblers around Luddenden; visited Todmorden’s Golden Lion for the UFO society; and did some house-hunting. I made a couple of trips to Leeds: the first was for a talk by David Gaffney; the second to see the new work-in-progress show by Shit Theatre, Evita Too – this was the first show I’d seen in two years and it was very, very good.
I also travelled up to County Durham to visit Dan Sumption, one of the pilgrims, and got to hear about his ongoing work with Peakrill Press. I also popped down to the Midlands for Mother’s Day. Looking for a new place has proved more difficult than expected as there is not much on the market – one local estate agents is mostly advertising sold houses along with adverts for lost dogs and airbnbs.
I’ve done more walking this month, which I suspect is down to the longer days. I walked a total of 299,191 steps, which makes a daily average of 9,651. My longest daily total was for a day of house-hunting around Sowerby Bridge. Most of my walks have been along the local canal.
I’m continuing to read more books than usual, finishing eight books this month. The highlight was Ben Myer’s Under the Rock, an account of his life within the Calder Valley. I read a couple of music biographies – Mark Lanegan’s Sing backwards and Weep was frank about his addictions, and was one of the grubbiest books I’ve read. Hell is Round the Corner, Tricky’s biography, was a fascinating exploration of the musician, and took me back to the shock of hearing Aftermath in 1994. Never Split the Difference was an interesting book on negotiation.
I continue to spend too much time thinking about my writing instead of actually just doing it. Part of this is the frustration of not being able to find places to send some of the recent stories I’m very proud of, which suggests there is little point writing yet more new stories that I can’t submit anywhere. But I’ve made good progress on the 6th volume of the South Downs Way series, as well as another zine, so maybe I should try to get something out next month?
I managed to watch a little more TV than usual in March. I finished watching the two seasons of How to With John Wilson, which was fantastic. Wilson’s New York is a magical place, and you wonder how he captured some of the shots. He also avoids the cynicism of some similar shows – when he meets the group of Avatar fans I was braced for some Louis Theroux-style mockery, but the portrayal was sweet and sensitive.
Snowpiercer’s third season flagged in the middle, but picked up the pace dramatically in its closing episodes. Netflix’s Kanye West documentary Jeen-yus showed just how Kanye’s talent has unwound over the last few years. I watched a movie for the first time in ages, Adam Neville horror adaptation No-One Gets Out Alive.
I also watched Of Mics and Men, a 4-part series on Wu-Tang Clan, with the band looking back on its history. It’s very good on the band’s imperial phase, as well as the tragedy of Old Dirty Bastard – seeing the ODB go from being energetic and creative to being broke and disappointed was heart-breaking. We also got to see discussions of how the band fell apart, including some fascinating interviews with manager Divine. The episode focussing on Cilvaringz and the one-off Wu-Tang album felt awkward and trivial – just how it felt as a fan at the time. We’ll probably never get another great Wu-tang album, but this series was a great look at their legacy.
I’m still vexed by Amazon ruining the Comixology experience, but it’s driven me to read a couple of physical collections. The Nice House on the Lake was one of the most incredible horror stories I’ve read in some time, giving me actual chills as I read it. I am very tempted to read the upcoming singles, and it’s been a long time since that seemed like good value.
After Amazon’s updating of the Comixology app, they updated the Kindle UI, making it more garish and commercial. They also broke some of the ways that I use the app. I’m increasingly suspicious of how electronic content is forcing us into particular ways of accessing them. I unsubscribed from NowTV, which was a relief given how they insert ads into programs I’ve already paid for. Spotify continues to feel like a devil’s bargain – all the music in the world, easily accessible, at the cost of a lifetime subscribing to a somewhat dodgy corporation.
Many of my walks have been accompanied by podcasts, and I’ve got a few regular favourites. Ross Sutherland’s Imaginary Advice has made a welcome return from hiatus. The F23 podcast continues to find interesting and provocative guests, including a recent visit from Grant Morrison. The Content Mines does an amazing job of explaining the modern Internet. I also drop in on the Blindboy or You’re Wrong About podcasts if the episode summary sounds interesting to me.
Every month I complain about video games, but I keep on with them. In March I replayed The Last of Us Part 2. I still hate the nihilistic storyline, but I enjoy the game play and the characters. There’s also something attractive about the setting too – despite the end of the world, the characters live in such beautiful homes. Although I wonder where they get all the fuel for the jeeps, twenty-five years after the collapse of civilisation. The game poses a lot of questions about post-apocalyptic infrastructure.
The end of the month brought snow, just as the energy price cap intensified the cost of living crisis. The times feel bleak right now, with coronavirus, war in Ukraine, threats of nuclear escalation, rising poverty and cost of living, a dire yet boastful government and worsening climate change. It feels like everything is out of control, and nobody in power seems to want to stop the world from falling apart. All the regular rhythms of daily life are played out against this backdrop of wearying horror.If you want to follow what I'm up to, sign up to my mailing list