Newsletter #32

Newsletter #32

A six-and-a-bit-weekly newsletter from author John Higgs. If you haven’t already subscribed, you can do so here.

Shortest Day 2021 

Happy darkest day!

Massive thanks to all of you who donated to my pre-Christmas Shelter appeal – it raised a handsome £1799 for the housing and homelessness charity. 1799 was the year of William Blake’s famous letter to Dr Trussler in which he writes, “As a man is, so he sees”, so you are all impressively on-brand.

As promised, I will thank you all in my next book Love And Let Die, and also pick one person who donated at random to dedicate this book to. All the names were put into the hat this morning and my daughter Lia was tasked with picking one out, on the grounds that she has an honest face.

We did try and get the cat to do it, but he wasn’t having it.

And the name out of the hat was – Jon Smith! Now, Jon Smith did not leave his email address when he donated on JustGiving, so I have no way to get in touch to let him know – so if you’re reading this Jon Smith, please get in touch! I assume from the spelling of ‘Jon’ that this is not Doctor Who using their usual alias, but you can never be totally sure.

The only problem with all this is that I will now feel incredibly guilty dedicating books to people in the future, now I know that this could have been the best part of a couple of grand to a homeless charity. But – that’s a problem for future days. Note though that you can still donate, and any late donations will still get their names in the ‘thanks’ section.

My big news is – I delivered my next book to the publishers yesterday!

This was a huge deal for me, and my brain is now basically mush. I had thought James Bond and the Beatles would be a light, fun thing to do after a few years deeply into Blake, but the book had other ideas. It kept growing and growing. Every time I went to cut bits out and trim it, it somehow ended up longer. It’s currently a third longer than previous books, and I don’t trust it not to expand more when I’m not looking.

Because of the mush-brain I don’t have a huge amount of new words here, but I have yakked plenty in recent podcasts. The following three are well worth a listen:

I returned to I Am The Eggpod to discuss the Beatles’ singles with Chris Shaw. Not that poor Chris was able to get much of a word in – I was deep in the book when it was recorded, and hence had a lot of enthusiasm and ranting to get off my chest. But if you can’t over-enthusiastically rant about the Beatles’ singles, then what can you rant about? The episode works as a prequel to Peter Jackson’s Get Back, and gives context to that month in 1969. The Eggpod, incidentally, will be doing near-daily January episodes for the planned real-time Get Back watchalong, more on that here…

I also really enjoyed talking to Jamie Dodds for the F23 podcast – this was one of those conversations that quickly headed into unexpected areas, which are always the good ones. In this case we talked a lot about forgiveness, before we were interrupted by a much-missed figure. Have a listen here.

And finally – there’s John Higgs’s Unruly Radio. I did my own podcast. Sort of. This was an excuse to play you some winter and Christmas records, using the talk + music thing you can do with Spotify. It’s a Spotify playlist interspersed with talk, readings and thoughts, basically, and as such is only available on the Spotify app. That’s not ideal I know, and if anyone knows of another, legal, way to do something similar, please let me know. But for now – think of it as a surprise audio postcard. I’ve yet to decide if there will be more like this but – we’ll see. Hope you like it.

Here’s something from Magda Knight of Mookychick, which might interest:

“Co-editor Rym Kechacha and I have created and curated Lore & Disorder, a charity anthology of mutated folklore and folk horror fiction featuring 13 wyrd and wonderful tales by 13 authors at the top of their game in digital format. It’s a pay-what-you-can donation system (including free, for those who can’t afford to donate).  All proceeds go to the foodbank charity Fareshare, because too many people are going to have to make a tough choice between heat and food this winter.”

The anthology, with donation link: – worth a look I reckon.

After I wrote about the forthcoming documentary Who Killed The KLF in my last newsletter, I had a call from Bill Drummond’s manager Cally – which is always a pleasure.

He wanted to say that it was not the case that the KLF were against the film, as I had written. Bill and Jimmy are, he tells me, ambivalent about it, and uninterested in it, but not against it. The legal action against it is down to him, he said, on the grounds that this is his job – he is responsible for making sure previously signed contracts are honoured, and that they are “active and watertight”.

So there you go – that’s probably as close to official word as we’ll get: The KLF aren’t ‘against’ the film, so you may now see it with a clear conscience. Just don’t expect to find Cally in the cinema with you.

That’s all for 2021. Not a year that anyone liked, let’ s be honest, but I hope it had a few golden personal moments that you’ll look back on and smile. One such moment for me was Kae Tempest agreeing to read the words for the hymn Jerusalem in their original context, as part of the preface to Blake’s Milton. You can see that here – it’s well worth revisiting. A year which had moments like that can’t be all bad.

Merry Christmas!