Sep
2015

The Reader’s Digest Book of Folklore Myths and Legends of Great Britain

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I’d like to think there were editorial clashes; Katharine Briggs, in her mid-seventies and a towering authority on British folklore, pushing for the inclusion of more fairy stories while Russell Ash, fresh off Fortean Times forerunner Man, Myth and Magic, arguing the case for quirkier tales of magic. Robin Gwyndaf Jones roaring “MORE WELSH!” Of course this is extremely unlikely. In reality, it was almost certainly compiled centrally, at the UK offices of that most unhip of institutions the Reader’s Digest, from the submissions of the impressive list of contributors. After all, who can argue what is more valid to be included in a book like this? What is the bar for entry?

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Jun
2013

#SurrenderYourSay

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Well, that was odd.

First thing I knew was an account I follow tweeting a hashtag #SurrenderYourSay. As this person created the marvellous Speak You’re Branes and @ticbot*, I sort-of-foolishly trusted the meaningless tweet-hashtag-link combo (in retrospect, wtf was I thinking?) and clicked through. This took me to a site run by the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada. I dunno why I carried on reading – none of this makes much sense until you realise it was about ten to eleven at night – but I did and they proposed that I allow them to non-invasively hijack my account to tweet random tics for 24 hours. To see how it was to have Tourette, to have no control over potentially offensive outbursts, just for a day. So I thought, eh, why not? It might be fun.

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May
2013

You’re Doing It Wrong

Russell T Davies, David Haig, Mina Anwar, Toby Longworth

Russell T Davies, David Haig, Mina Anwar, Toby Longworth

The Wright Way is undeniably a special thing. The reaction to it has been off-the-chart vicious; it’s like the hysterical woman in Airplane!, with every corner of the media lining up to take a bash at it, and, at first glance, that would seem about right. The mugging, the pauses for punchlines to fit into, the generic theme music, the middle-aged-manliness of it all. But look again and it’s possible we’re missing something. Something good. For I come here not to bury The Wright Way, but to praise it.

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Apr
2013

Rejoice!

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This is an England
And you are free
Of tyranny – rejoice!
As a hand stretched out
To grasp the tongue
Of the great cracked-iron voice.
Be silent
In your hour of freedom
Be silent, and be glad
Now just lie back
And think of an England
None of us ever had.

You can protest,
They say,
You can’t
But help be there
That day
And turn your back
On an England that
Looked the other way.

It had you not
In mind, in heart
In its grip, perhaps,
Though through it you can fall
Through gaps
In fingers opened wide
As certain structures will collapse
In holes that once were small.

So have your silence,
Hold your tongue
This moment will not
Last for long.
That’s all you have –
(False) memories
Of an England at its best.
Grip that in mind
As in her name
We sell off all the rest.