I will be giving a talk on fiction writing at the next Folken gathering in Liverpool on 9th December. Pronounced Fol-ken (not Folk-en, that sounds a bit rude), which means “people”, the event aims to inspire and create networks and links for those who want to do something a little bit different in 2017.
For the past two years, the camera on the phone I had was rubbish. When it came time to upgrade in July, the man in the shop said, ‘Are you upgrading because the screen on your phone is cracked?’
I said, ‘No, it’s because it’s crap. It’s a terrible phone.’
So he did his best and found me a really good replacement phone with a boss camera, to make up for it. And since then I’ve been photographing more or less everything.
I took a snap of a pop group at the Liverpool International Music Festival three weeks ago. Stealing Sheep looked far too ace in white tights and glittery goodness to ignore. I was pleased because I got all three women in the shot, and please note the “HEEP” part of “sheep” is expertly included.
I put the photo on Twitter because I was made up with myself.
When I got home that night, I searched for Stealing Sheep on Twitter. To see how good my photo was compared to everyone else’s. I’m stupidly competitive that way.
It was then I saw it.
My photo of Stealing Sheep, used by another Twitter account.
It wasn’t a private individual, or even a local webzine getting carried away with my Mario Testino/Annie Liebovitz-esque photography, combined with festival fever. It was part of a large organisation here in Liverpool, and they’d nicked my photo.
My photo without my consent, crediting or even tagging me. This is not on.
To add insult to injury, they edited my beautiful work to make the colours “pop” more.
I’m not naming or shaming because of what happened to me last year which you can read about here, but without respecting copyright then as creatives we’re all banjaxed. To each and every one of us who make things for a living, copyright is how we earn our money. If we don’t own what we create – whether it be writing, or even photographs taken on a mobile phone on a dreamy Saturday afternoon, then why are we doing all this?
Why do people think we do all this?
I’m not known for exceptional photography, and I’m willing to accept this fortunate snap was a happy accident rather than skills-related, but even if it’s idiots like me taking photos, the shots shouldn’t be just nicked. It’s very bad form indeed.
And the thieves ignored my comminications over it too.
That’s just rude.
On a lighter note, the fabulous first issue of FWYL, edited by the fabulous Claire Biddles, is back from the printers, meaning it’s available to buy online now. It contains feminist essays on the glory of Matt Healy’s hair, straight girls crushing on gay popstars, erotic fanfiction (yep, that last one’s written by me, how did you guess) and loads more.
You can order it here, if you wish. This is the beautiful cover (photo by Claire Biddles):
Additionally, if you’re in Liverpool, I have some flash fiction as part of the ‘Women: Where Do You Find Yourself in the Arts?’ exhibition at the café in Constellations until the end of next weekend. And it’s free!
I have work coming out in some really nice places over the coming weeks. This blog post reads a bit like a list, so I apologise in advance for that!
An essay on sisterhood will be in the A Room of Our Own anthology, the book is raising money to keep the organisation’s website going so they can continue their valuable work.
Another essay, about my non-motherhood and choice to not become a parent, is in issue 2 of I Hope You Like Feminist Rants later in the summer. My writing on housework is in issue 1 of Rants, which you can purchase here.
My flash fiction Good Times, originally published in Slim Volume 1 : No Love Lost (2015), is published in CRUSHED, a book of writing and art on the subject of heartbreak is out this month (May 2016). Editor Charlotte Apsin is producing a zine to go with it.
It is early morning and Liverpool is opening its eyes, ready to wake up, stretch, yawn, and welcome the day.
There’s a tune, a breathy bass riff. A voice, smooth and clear, high but not too much.
I found a place full of charms.
I hear the voice singing, and I know who it is. Billy Fury. I know the song, Wondrous Place.
I know the singer and I know the song but what I don’t know is where it is coming from at ten to eight on a Tuesday morning in Liverpool city centre. I follow the song. It takes me to a pub, the old boozer type, doors flung wide open. I near and hear singing, a voice on top of Billy’s. It is thin, slightly shrill, out of tune and time. I peer inside.
The pub’s cleaner in her apron is dancing with her mop, humming. Billy Fury sings to her from the jukebox. She’s seventy-odd with crab-apple skin, turned girlish. She’s smiling, eyes closed, slow dancing. It’s beautiful.
I wanna stay and never go away –
She dances with Billy Fury every morning, I think. I hope.
On a mild October evening last year, I was in Liverpool city centre. We were going to see Richard Hawley play a show. I’d been looking forward to it for ages. I suggested a quick drink first, so we chose into a pub near Lime Street station.
You know when sometimes you go into a place that doesn’t serve wine very often, but has it for sale all the same? The rustic but cheery sort? It was one of those.
We go in.
“A glass of red wine please,” says I.
The lad behind the bar wavers. The wine thing is unchartered territory for him, I suspect. But give him his due, he composes himself quickly enough. He grabs not a wine glass or even a half pint, but an actual pint glass intended for lager, and throws a third of a house wine into it.
‘Three quid,’ he says, plonking it down on the counter.
In other news, my flash fiction The Torn Soul was published by 101 Words last week, and now it has passed the second round of 101 Words competition proceedings – it’s a Featured Story. The Features Stories are a list of stories editors view as worthy over the month; on 22nd April a winner is chosen. I’m so pleased Torn Soul is featured, fingers crossed for the next stage. You can read Torn Soul here.
It’s only Tuesday and already this week is turning into a busy one for me.
In November last year I wrote a personal essay on the politics of cleaning, and housework. It’s not part of the “why don’t men and women do their equal share of household chores” debate because I think that’s discussed enough already, and very well. I wanted to explore our attitude to cleaners as paid employees, and how we view what is essentially physical labour, but from a feminist perspective. It was inspired by a Facebook conversation about memes like this:
The essay is published this week in new feminist publication Rants, edited by the fabulous Abigail Tarttelin, author of the award winning YA novel Golden Boy. I’m so pleased to have my work alongside top class writers such as Shelley Harris and Kit de Waal in this zine, and I feel privileged to have my opinion in a publication that offers writers the opportunity to express a wide range of views. I find the current trend of no platforming dissenting voices very disturbing, and akin to censorship. Bravo Abigail for allowing us the opportunity to speak so freely and honestly.
(I spent my lunch hour today working out which of these bottoms most resembles my own)
Yesterday I was invited onto the sofa of 52%, a TV show here in Liverpool, hosted by the brilliant Claire Simmo.
It’s a programme presented by women and it’s ace. We talked about women and food, entrepreneurism and home baking plus what’s trending, news wise. We spoke about the north west band Viola Beach (I wrote about them for The Guide) ; their deaths over the weekend marked a very sad day for the local music scene.
52% will be broadcast on Saturday in the Merseyside area on Bay TV, Freeview channel 8 at 7pm.
Today, a teeny snippet of the crime novel I’ve working on, is published over at Paragraph Planet:
In addition to that, my interview with The Trouble with Goats and Sheep author Joanna Cannon is now online over at Urbanista, a preview to her appearance here in Liverpool next week.