LeftLion 59: Scab City

cover59Nottingham’s had a fair few labels over the years and where possible we’ve tried to confront these head on. When we were described as ‘Shottingham’ we went with a cover in Issue 23 that read ‘another shooting in Nottingham’, referring to our thriving film culture and the emergence of the likes of Shane Meadows et al. Our current issue addresses a label we’ve been given at more than one point in history: Scab City.

Within seconds of the mag going out the mithering started on Facebook with some ‘readers’ refusing to even pick it up. I can only presume this is because it is a weighty issue in more ways than one – it’s a 64 pager, our largest ever. We went for 64 pages because we got 23 adverts in (we usually aim for 20) and so the extra content was needed to stop it turning into an advert wank mag.

You cannot ignore nor rewrite your history and Scab City is part of our heritage whether we like it or not. If you want a glossy reality full of pretty pictures pick up a copy of City Life. If you want a bloodied nose and a toothless grin, pick up LeftLion.

198459The Miners’ Strike was a complex mess that divided communities as well as the nation. That’s why I commissioned Harry Patterson, author of Look Back in Anger: The Miners’ Strike in Nottinghamshire 30 Years on to write a 2,000 word feature addressing these issues. He’s an incredible writer and the reason I didn’t bother with the usual Q&A as every word was gold. I think it’s one of the best articles we’ve ever ran.

The cover is a mock-up of Sin City and something I’ve wanted to do for ages so I was delighted with Video Matt’s artwork. The only editorial quibble I had was with the strapline ‘Why we crossed the line’. Although this is relevant to the strike I wanted ‘Ger over yersens’, because I was anticipating the mithering.

An incredible turnout for Chris Richardson's Chartist walk in Nottingham on 1 June.

This issue was a real historical beast, offering an alternative to jingoistic WWI celebrations through our interview with Brick and his WWI anthology To End All Wars and an interview with Chris Richardson, author of City of Light, who has researched Chartist movements in Nottingham from the 1830s as well as the development of Operative Libraries. Nottingham had 13 Operative Libraries at one point which I think may have been the largest amount in the country. These were open on the Sabbath in pubs, enabling working class people to read supposedly salacious literature and determine culture on their own terms.

On WriteLion we ran reviews of the seven nominees for the East Midlands Book Award which was won by Alison McQueen. We’ll be following this up with interviews over the next few weeks. Katie Half-Price has had a slight make-over, though she’s still Nottingham’s orangest reviewer. She now has ‘Katie’s Tales of the Ales’ which explores literary history of Nottingham’s boozers. Although I love writing book reviews from her unique perspective I haven’t had time recently due to the volume of reading for Dawn of the Unread. Elsewhere, Readers Wives got a new illustrator, and if the first offering is anything to go by, I’m a very happy bunny.

Finally, you may have noticed that the magazine now has more full length features instead of Q&As. This is based on a reader survey where we found a large majority of readers take the magazine home to read. We had previously presumed it was just read in pubs and so had to keep it simple. Now we can really get our teeth into issues. The addition of Mark Patterson to the editorial team, a great writer I previously commissioned for the Sillitoe Trail, means we have the staff to do this.

Ali Emm and me

And well done to our new editor Ali Emm who has started to stamp her identity on the magazine. The future is bright. The future is orange…