Watling Street – Book and podcast launch

originally posted July 13, 2017

I am a proud parent limping out of a delivery room with uncountable stitches and a head full of endorphins – my new book has entered the world!

Her name is Watling Street and you’ll find her at your local bookshop – or online here.

She tells of a journey across England and Wales. She will not make you proud to be British but she just might make you delighted to be British.

Watling Street book cover by John Higgs

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Stranger Than We Can Imagine algorithmically compressed into 400 words

originally posted September 16, 2015

My new book Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century is finally loose in the UK – being sold in shops, downloaded as ebooks onto Kindles and as audiobooks onto phones. It will be published in Canada on October 6th and America on November 10th, with Spanish, German, Dutch, Greek, Turkish and Romanian translations on their way. There are, I’d like to think, versions for everyone.

Everyone, that is, except those who don’t want to read an entire book. What about those people?

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Cosmic Trigger Festival Talk

originally posted November 25, 2014

It’s too early to say exactly what detonated at the Cosmic Trigger play and festival in Liverpool this weekend, save to say that this particular firework was not a dud and much will be written about it.

At one point a man called Duncan Harvey handed me a memory stick containing a long lost photo shoot he did with Robert Anton Wilson at the Old Chelsea Town Hall, London, in 1986. I’ve placed my favourites throughout this post. Good, rights-clearable photos of Bob are in short supply, so if anyone has a use for these photos get in touch and I’ll connect you with Duncan. This is my absolute favourite:


I was due to give a talk and host a panel with Robin Ince, Adam Gorightly, Robert Temple and Daisy Campbell. This didn’t happen alas – whoever was in charge of the speaker’s room lost interest in that role and wandered off and the resulting confusion and free-for-all (Hail Eris!) claimed the time alloted for my talk. So rather than see that talk go to waste I’ve transcribed here roughly what I would I would have said, bar the ums and errs and general blather.

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Steve Moore (1949 – 2014)

originally posted May 1, 2014
Steve Moore (centre) at the Brinklow Crescent burial mound. Photo by Mark Pilkington

When someone dies there is a temptation to write an obituary. If I’d written an obituary for the comic writer, Fortean Times grandee and occultist Steve Moore when he died last month it would have ended with the final few sentences from his dream diary, in which he describes the end of his last dream:

“I came to what seemed to be a small lake, and decided to float across the surface, but it seemed to be only about an inch deep anyway. I then decided to run, as I wanted to get home quick.”

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Youth’s early Killing Joke-era “acid flipout”

originally posted October 1, 2013

Writing The KLF was in part an attempt to scratch an itch created by an aborted attempt to write a book about Killing Joke. There’s a lot of cross-over between those two stories, and many of the threads I explored in The KLF would have worked equally well in a Killing Joke book – not least of which being the money burning (see below).

Here’s a transcript of an interview I did with Youth for that book, regarding his “acid flipout”.

Youth, 1980, before Killing Joke gig at the Music Machine, London. Photo by Klaus Hiltscher on Flicker
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The Superman/Doctor Who/KLF Popstar Car – An Unseen Transvestite Pirate Nun Photograph

originally posted November 25, 2012
Here you go…

Okay, this picture might need a bit of explaining.

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The Silence, Slenderman and Alan Moore’s Ideaspace

The Silence, Slenderman and Alan Moore’s Ideaspace

originally posted October 30, 2012

Here’s a spooky thing to think about this Hallowe’en.

This is The Silence. I’ll assume you know about the Silence from watching Doctor Who.

 

This is Slenderman. Slenderman (Or the Slender Man, if you prefer) is one of those internet memes you either know about or you don’t. If you don’t, an ideal place to start is this Darklore article by Cat Vincent, along with his follow-up article in the latest volume.
 

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Illuminatus! vs Atlas Shrugged

Illuminatus! vs Atlas Shrugged

originally posted May 31, 2012

As has been widely noted, the twenty-first century is strange, worrying and makes very little sense. Help is at hand, however, because the late twentieth century produced two huge novels which shed light on our current predicament. These two books are polar opposites, yet oddly similar – opposed twins, in other words, like Cain and Abel.

Both novels are ridiculously long. Both were largely ignored by the literary and educational establishments, due to their unmistakable whiff of madness (This fear of insanity is, of course, why the literary and educational establishments always miss out on all the good stuff.) They have both, however, found a devoted readership, been hailed as life changing, and have remained in print since publication. Between them, they explain much of our current twenty-first century world, from the underground anarchism of Anonymous and the shift from hierarchies to networks, to the Tea Party and neo-conservative hijack of American politics and the massive shift in wealth distribution towards the super rich.

These two books are, of course Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! Trilogy (Co-written with Robert Shea, who I’m rudely leaving out of the picture in order to portray a false RAW/Rand dichotomy).

But – which is which? Fear not, the following guide will explain all: Read more

Brian Barritt vs The Grim Reaper

Brian Barritt vs The Grim Reaper

originally posted January 30, 2011

Brian Barritt died this morning at around 6am. He was 76.

When I first met Brian, nearly 15 years ago, he showed me the following passage from Tim Leary’s Confessions of a Hope Fiend. This was written in 1971:

“Brian is ancient but not old […] He has put as many drugs as possible into his body for thirty-six years and is obscenely healthy, diabolically wealthy, and looks about twenty. He intends to maintain this state for an indefinite period. He is not going to die; they will have to kill him.”

“He is not going to die; they will have to kill him…” That’s quite a way to describe someone. The ‘ancient but not old’ description seemed as apt when I met him in the 90s as it must have in 1971. It still seemed pretty accurate in 2011. In this context the ‘they will have to kill him comment’ felt something more than flippant. There was a Rasputin air about Brian. You couldn’t rule anything out. It is hard to accept that someone like that has gone. Of course, knowing Brian, it’s entirely possible that he died a few months ago, but he just kept going in order to freak out the doctors.

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