LeftLion 57

boogie57225(1)LeftLion 57 announced itself to the world on 1 Feb with a cover that split our readership. Those who loved it admired the bubble handwriting and were able to make the connection with the relevant articles inside. Those who didn’t like it have been staring at mobile phones for so long they can’t deal with anything unless it has an emoticon in it. *Der* It says ‘Koolie oown Nitts’ or is it ‘Budgie Aown Notts’ …;-)

To get everyone in the mood for the seventh World Book Night we had a lit frenzy. Clare Cole explored the books that shaped her childhood and asked some other writers (David Almond, Catharine Arnold, Paula Rawsthorne and Wayne Burrows) which books were important to them.

Robert Nieri told us about a Nottingham lace-maker who would travel 900 miles from his home of 129 Mansfield Rd and help form AC Milan. It’s another truly odd connection with Italy, particularly given Notts County’s association with Juventus. The book’s taken 6 odd years to write and Nieri is now looking for a publisher. If you’re interested, contact him via @lordofmilan.

Machinist (Ink Drawing) by Rosemary Wels

Machinist (Ink Drawing) by Rosemary Wels

Robin Lewis (who is slowly being ushered in as the Dep Lit Ed) interviewed Nicola L Robinson, author and artist of the fabulous The Monster Machine. I came up with Raving Loony Monster Painter as the headline, and was a little worried Nicola might take offence at this pun but fortunately there’s been no reports of a mard. Some people who were very definitely offended were WoLan (Women’s Liberation and After in Nottingham) when we ran a two page feature on their incredible historical project. Surprisingly, it wasn’t for another of my headlines (I may not be a lady, but I’m all WoLan) but because we forgot to credit artist Rosemary Wels for her beautiful black and white machinist drawing. Big Oops. This is somewhat inevitable when things come in so late but still shouldn’t happen. The drawing was for a box-out feature about the history of female libraries. 

Paul Kaye and Damon Albarn were up in Nottingham for the 170th anniversary of The School of Art & Design at Nottingham Trent University. Paul Kaye gave a fantastic opening speech, discussing his life here as a student and the approach of lecturers ‘back in the day’. Afterwards I caught up with him, commended him on his ace beard and crazy appearance and asked if he’d like to write anything for us. The result was Anarchy in the Paul K, celebrating the 35th anniversary of the death of Sid Vicious, Paul’s childhood idol. I’m hoping he’ll write some more for us at some point which I think may be music orientated as he’s currently working on an album. Look at that for a career trajectory – Dennis Pennis – Game of Thrones – Band.

Sid Vicious by Si Mitchell

Sid Vicious by Si Mitchell

WriteLion saw an interview with Pippa Hennessy, arguably the busiest female poet on the planet, and four reviews of female authors to celebrate 2014 being The Year of Reading Women. These were: Sarah Dale’s insight into life for women over fifty, a fictionalised account of Mary Howitt’s diaries, a guide to making Steampunk paraphernalia and Roberta Dewa’s memoir. Content wise it couldn’t have been a more diverse mix.

Finally, I wrote a much needed 10 point ‘fun’ guide aimed at our self-published authors because recent communication with some of them has verged on harassment. And as I smugly stated the importance of employing a proofer and editor, and laughed at one unforgivable typo (June Austin), sure enough, when the page got laid out, the wrong cover was placed next to two of the reviews. So my advice to smug editors thinking of warning others about their failings. Don’t. It will inevitably end up booting you in the face. Humility, etc.

LeftLion still Needham

sexcock1All great things must come to an end and they don’t come much greater – or sadder – than waving goodbye to Al Needham, the esteemed LeftLion Editor of the past five years. Editorial meetings at his house were always fun as the first thing you’d see on being let in was a pair of false breasts. These were a sex toy he’d reviewed for a magazine which now found use as a letter holder. As you made your way into the front room you were greeted by a golden cock with wings, his award for Todger Talk which was voted blog of the year at the Erotic Awards in 2008.

Al lives and breathes Nottingham and has a very distinctive accent you can hear a mile off. He created Nottingham’s very own version of ‘the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain’ and would spend hours on seemingly pointless pursuits such as making the best lines of Coppers in Nottingham available on SoundCloud or starting up a campaign to have a town named Willis because we’ve already got a Kimberley and an Arnold. My favourite memory, though, is when he told people he was the “LeftLion Editor, duckeh”. It was said with such pride it had the effect of making you feel completely inferior.

The Royal Hunt: Al Needham in a Tesco carpark, the site of a former pub. Al was my second commissioned writer for The Sillitoe Trail

The Royal Hunt: Al Needham in a Tesco carpark, the site of a former pub. Al was my second commissioned writer for The Sillitoe Trail

Don’t interpret this as meaning Al is arrogant. The very opposite is true. His biggest weakness is not realising how talented he is. He simply loves his home city and editor of LeftLion was as good as it gets. But I’m talking about him like he’s dead. He’s not. You can still find him online at May Contain Notts.

Al is not very good at taking orders or advice – particularly from anyone he doesn’t respect – and so the change in environment will do him good. LeftLion became a bit of a creative rut for him and now he has the opportunity to run wild with his ideas. I have no doubt about his talent. His biggest test will be channeling that creativity into the right medium, being disciplined enough to meet deadlines, and creating and following a workable business plan. It’s the perfect moment for Al to venture into something new as the Creative Quarter is really starting to take shape now. There’s a genuine buzz around the city with investment opportunities for those with a sustainable business plan and Pop-Up shops to test-ride ideas and merchandise.

Al went out on the perfect note at LeftLion. Not only was his last column in our Decade issue 54 but he finally got around to interviewing his idol Su Pollard. On a more positive note his absence means that other writers will get more opportunities and new voices will be allowed to emerge. Ali Emm, our new editor, is full of verve, wit and sarcasm and wrote my favourite ever LeftLion piece. These are qualities LeftLion needs more than ever with such an incredible void left to fill.

I’ll be working with Al Needham and his partner Rikki Marr very soon on Dawn of the Unread where I’ve asked them to bring Bendigo back to life.