Hi, my name is Charles and I have Too Much Stuff. Too many books, too many CDs, too many DVDs … you name ‘em, I have piles of ’em. Great big tottering towers of ’em, to be precise. Unfortunately, there is no longer enough space in my bijou residence to accommodate said Tottering Towers, and my study resembles a cross between the aftermath of an explosion in a head-shop and a Turner Prize-winning installation on the subject of compulsive hoarding.
Soooo … the ultimate solution has been devised. To wit: flogging off a bunch of the surplus, plus other oddage and soddage, at 11am this coming Sunday (that’s December 8) via a stall at the West Hampstead Community Market, held in the forecourt of West Hampstead Thameslink Station, on West End Lane opposite Costa Coffee. If you want to solve a few of those ticklish Xmas-prezzie dilemmae, stick some of that folding stuff into your wallet, set your GPS for ‘NW6 2LJ’ and c’mon along.
I’ll be there (along with a couple of lovely accomplices) to say hey and maybe even bend your shell-like on assorted topics, includng the spring 2014 Hothouse Project course in Journalism As Craft And Art. (If you can’t find anything you like on the stall, you could always buy your Loved One – or even yourself – a place on the course.)
Last Thursday marked the end of the Winter 2013 sessions of The Hothouse Project. my writing course in Journalism As Craft And Art, held on Thursday nights in leafy/arty West Hampstead. We had another excellent bunch of students this time around, and their enthusiasm and hard work made it a real pleasure to teach. We had guest contributions from Paul Anderson (on the view from the Subs’ Desk) and Anna ‘Madam Miaow’ Chen (on the ins, outs and sidewayses of the blogosphere) and a thoroughly enlightening good time was had by all …
So we’re doing it again next February, once more aided, abetted and sponsored by the good folks at Storm Books and Aaaargh! Press. The Spring 2014 Hothouse Project course is now officially open for business, and I’m looking forward to passing on whatever it is I’ve learned during four-and-a-bit decades at the cultural coalface to a fresh bunch of people who love to write and want to learn how to do it just that little bit better.
We’ll soon be adding a selection of the best work from the Winter 2013 Hothouse Project students, which you’ll be able to find on the Storm Books site, so watch for the announcement of that coming any day now.
So: thanks to all the students who did the last course … and eagerly awaiting to the opportunity to work with next bunch … hopefully including YOU.
Anna, CSM and Paul Anderson recuperate from a Hothouse session outside a recommended local hostelry
… and no good book is ever entirely forgotten. Yr humble servant was recently notified that, in the supremely unlikely context of a review in The Gramophone of John Eliot Gardner’s new biography of Johann Sebastian Bach. Philip Clark had writ the following:
“When I say that in the pantheon of great music books, Music in the Castle of Heaven deserves a place next to Boogie Man, Charles Shaar Murray’s 2000 study of pioneering bluesman John Lee Hooker, this is praise of the highest order. Murray’s book represents a paradigm of investigative biography: musical nuts and bolts threaded through vividly recounted social history and philosophical muscle, written by a thinking writer who knows exactly how to operate and manipulate language. Sprawling over 500 pages, Murray is word – and comma – perfect.”
What can I say? Well, thanks to the wonderful people at Canongate Books, Boogie Man is still available from most good bookshops (though, to sell serious amounts of product units, you need to be stocked by the bad ones as well) and — if you absolutely must — from Amazon. Why not invest a few quid in finding out whether it’s really as good as Mr Clark says it is?
One more thing: ‘sprawling’????? Cheeky sod. How DARE he. I mean, like, HOW????
Paranoid about the NSA and GCHQ monitoring and storing every last little bit of your online and digital activity? So are lots of other people. It is, of course, a major problem for those organisations, tireless defenders of your liberty that they are, but there is a simple PR solution to the thorny issue of how they can persuade you to love them rather than fear and mistrust them.
My good friend Steve Ingamells and I came up with this a few weeks back, and now the time has come to share it with them – and you. Needless to say, if they adopt our concept, we’ll want paying … BIG TIME. Points, royalties and everything.
Here’s the deal. They open a website called www.universalfreebackup.com, and decorate the homepage with a cheery cartoon figure of a top-hatted Fred Astaire-alike with a stylised memory stick in place of a hoofer’s cane. The copy should read something like SO:
“Lost all your unbacked-up documents and data in a hard drive crash? Someone nicked your smartphone? Dropped your Kindle? RELAX! FUGGEDDABOUDIT!
“Not only do we have all your stuff – but we’ll know the second you lose it, and we’ll restore every last byte via the DropBox we’ve already set up for you!
“And this service is FREE!
“Don’t even bother to thank us — it’s all part of our mission to keep you, your loved ones and your family pet safe from REALLY BAD PEOPLE!
“Universal Free Backup. Brought you by the NSA and GCHQ. We’ve got a lot to love.”
Just to celebrate tonight’s kick-off of the latest edition of my Hothouse Project course in Journalism As Craft And Art and the inauguration of our new Facebook page, here’s our stirring new manifesto:
Charles Shaar Murray’s “Journalism as Craft and Art” writing course is the basis of our alternative education group, The Hothouse Project, featuring the best of the ideals and artistic values of classic counter-culture. We share rigorous, hard-headed journalistic craft, to bring literary quality into even the most mundane journalistic tasks, and offer an inspiring alternative to the flatlining culture, showing you how to inject style and subversion into a timid, conformist media landscape. We’ll skill you up, sharpen your claws, broaden your bandwith and widescreen your horizons.