When I moved out of my mum and dad’s, I rented a house in one of the town’s most run down areas. It was about a year after Notsensibles split. Close by were a bunch of Southern hippys, who like many had moved up here when housing was dirt cheap. They ran a whole-food co-op (it was cheap – I had no money). By and by, we trod a bit of common ground and they helped out with my fanzine and we did shared music events. It took me many years to realise that they were simply the previous generation’s renegades. Playing in a punk band is a perfect vehicle for being a complete musical snob.
They moved on to restoring a big mill. Chris Coates, one of their number tried to get into university to study architecture but they wouldn’t let him. He subsequently masterminded the building of an energy-efficient self build village on an old factory site on the bank of the river Lune and won a number of building awards in the process – ha – two fingers up to the establishment. I bumped into him at Kathy Reade’s birthday party and he asked me to come along and play along with Boff’s Commoners Choir. We were all together at Halton Mill and it was wonderful. Boff and I have trod similar paths since we met at school – the printed word is a common theme. I took two letterpress machines and printed a little memento to give out to everyone there – the smell of ink all glistening and fresh – it was the icing on the cake.
I love the English language for its variety and subtlety. There is so much scope for mystery and magic with a wealth of words including: metaphor; allegory; analogy; innuendo; cryptic. Again, like the well, I’ve been itching to write another book. I have at least five novels running round my head and finally one of them has come to the fore. There are a few threads running through it – one of them is the insanity of guns. I’m taking my inspiration from a real life event where a nutter shot a load of children. The back story is that he was known to the police and the details of what actually happened leading up to the shooting is under secret wraps by the government for at least a hundred years – he had some seriously dodgy connections with some very high-up establishment figures.
As well as that, I’m going to write a Painting Snails 2. The first book is me on my own, creating a magic garden. Volume 2 is what happens when I open the door and share it. It will follow the same format of using the annual cycle of the ranch as a framework except this time I will write it prospectively – a chapter a month. Each chapter will have its own woodblock print and I’ll release each chapter as I write in the same way that Charles Dickens serialised his books in a London newspaper, before they were published.