Friday, 15 April 2016

Postcard from Manchester: Seeing your city through someone else's eyes

I was recently invited to write a travel piece about Manchester for Marco Travel International, as part of their 'Postcards' series. I was inspired to write this by my experiences of showing my friend Jenny around when she visited from Granada, Spain in March, sharing my life and city with her for a week and seeing it all over again through someone else's eyes.

Read online at:

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Postcard from Essex: Jaywick

Jaywick Martello tower is one of many defensive structures built along the eastern and southern coasts of England to keep out Napoleon's forces in the early 1800s, inspired by similar structures on the island of Malta. Those on the southern coast were built first, and the eastern Martello towers followed a couple of years later, with hundreds of thousands of Kentish bricks transported to Essex by barge. Now renovated and open as a tourist attraction, Jaywick's solid brick tower tells the story of these defences, as well as hosting changing exhibitions. A text work by poet Julia Bird encirlces the building in concrete, and her poem 'Watching the Red Arrows from Jaywick Beach', installed onto the windows of the rooftop viewing area, incorporates the thoughts, hopes and desires of local residents. Given their fortress-like appearance from the outside, the Martello is surprisingly light inside. Many are empty, but some of the Martello towers in Kent have been converted into homes; there's currently one for sale in Clacton as a business premises for £220,000. Jaywick Martello is adjacent to Jaywick's notoriously run-down 'plotlands' estates (temporary housing intended as holiday homes, but settled permanently after the Second World War). Jaywick is regarded as being the most deprived area in England - see Karen Guthrie and Nina Pope's film Jaywick Escapes, which gives voice to some of the residents and captures the isolation of life lived on the edge of a receding coastline, and at the end of the bus line. A couple of miles along the coast, past sand drifts and rows and rows of offshore wind turbines, is the sprawling seaside resort of Clacton, complete with amusements and a pier; a plaque is the only reminder of the large Butlins holiday camp which stood there until its demolition and replacement with housing in the mid-1980s. On a drizzly, windswept day, this is the English seaside at its bleakest.

Postcard from Essex: Silver End

Deep in the flat Essex countryside is a model village built for the employees of Crittall Windows. Housing was built in a variety of sizes and styles, from terraces and semis to large detached houses. Facilities were provided by a village hall, tea room and memorial gardens (and originally a department store, which burnt down in the 1950s). The Crittall factory in the village was demolished in 2008, although production continues at nearby Witham. Today the houses are in varying states of repair, from well-kept to run down with smashed windows. Although many of the houses have replaced their original steel window frames (in some cases adding bay windows over or in place of the original windows), new-build housing has adopted styles and details from the original Crittall houses. The village is celebrating its 90th anniversary this April with a variety of activities exploring life through the decades.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

The Shrieking Violet talk at Sounds from the Other city/Zinester film

The Shrieking Violet is excited to be appearing at Sounds from the Other City festival in Salford on Sunday May 1.

As part of Salford Zine Library’s takeover of the Deli Lama CafĂ©, several zinesters and poets have been invited to do short readings and talks about their work, with zines from the library also available to explore and browse. The Shrieking Violet will be appearing alongside other favourites such as Poor Lass, talking at 6.30pm. For more information and times, keep an eye on and

Poor Lass, Salford Zine Library and the Shrieking Violet were recently featured in Zinester, a short film about feminist zinemaking in Manchester by Emily Steele. View the film online:

Zinester from Emily Steele on Vimeo.