Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

It’s mental health awareness week, again. I have mental health issues and I find that, when I talk about them, even if it doesn’t necessarily help me, it does help other people out there facing the same issues. I hope it also helps foster understanding, and I also hope it helps underline the problems with mental health provision in this country (the UK), and how the systems that are in place can fail men.

I know that latter part is controversial and opens me up to criticism from those who dismiss all men’s issues as misogynistic or solely the concern of ‘incels’. Nonetheless it is true that men’s mental health – in particular – is in crisis, with men continuing to commit suicide at a high rate, to be exploited by gurus like Tate, and also lashing out and causing problems in the world around them.

I hope I’ve found a healthier way to exist and endure, and I hope my experiences and openness helps someone.


I have clinical depression and while I was first diagnosed in 2007 it seems likely I had depressive issues going back much earlier, with a couple of bouts triggered by life events (such as relationship break-ups) previously requiring medication in the short term. This depression, however, is not connected to any particular event, it happens for no reason on an irregular but recurrent basis.

I also have anxiety, particularly around social contact and especially when dealing with ‘authority’ figures such as utilities, banks, government offices – even something so simple as paying for things at the till in a shop.

I have, previously, been on antipsychotics for a time, to address intrusive thoughts related to my depression, suicidal ideation and self-harm. I was not psychotic or skitzophrenic, but those urges and ‘voices’ were so loud as to require supplementary medication.

I now also have certain physical issues as well, related to ruinously high blood pressure, but everything is somewhat interrelated.


Depression is hard to describe and hard to get people to understand. It also manifests differently for different people.

For me it typically manifests as unshakable exhaustion and a total collapse of motivation. It is far more than just being ‘sad’, it carries the same weight as grief, but it doesn’t fade over time with acceptance the way grief does. Grief is a useful comparison because it is a crushing sadness you can’t really do anything about, what is lost is lost and nothing you can do will make a difference to that.

Depression can also carry physical symptoms with it, leaden limbs, physical aches in the muscles and joints. It can hit you like the flu, minus the mucous and fever.

Anxiety, for me, manifests as a fight or flight response – panic – to situations and issues that shouldn’t provide such a panic. It makes me avoidant of social situations where there’s any capacity to avoid socialising. While it’s primarily social anxiety, I also get helplessly panicked about travelling, driving and many other situations.

My heart hammers, I tremble, my legs get weak, my hands shake, I feel faint and I want to run away and hide. Again, this is a completely disproportionate response to normal events, but it’s something I have no real control over, and struggling on through is tiring in the extreme.

‘Masking’ is something a lot of people with mental health issues do, this is basically put, pretending to be OK. It takes a huge amount of effort, and can get us past the issue in the moment, but comes with a ‘hangover’ of even worse tiredness, or even worse symptoms, when you can finally relax. Sometimes you can even get ‘stuck’ masking, unable to express the emotions and distress that you really need to.

Masking can also make people think you’re fine, you get very adept at lying, when you’re not, and can contribute to suspicion and prejudice against people with mental health issues (and other invisible illnesses) even more than acting distressed in public.


I’ve been through the UK’s mental health system and I do not believe that it is fit for purpose. It’s easy enough to get onto drugs to flatten out and reduce the impact of your issues, but general practitioners are normally not especially skilled when it comes to mental health issues and provided you are ‘coping’ (on the drugs) there isn’t a great deal of interest or urgency in further helping you.

If you become suicidal, as I have been in the past, then something more might get unlocked for you. You may be permitted to access the Community Mental Health Team, where you might get to see a therapist every week or other week, and after several months you might get a short appointment with a proper psychologist.

Unfortunately the only care that seems to be available is talk therapy and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. A one-size-fits-all approach to a collection of very different illnesses that require more individuated care.

The problem with this approach is that the National Health Service runs on a triage system – and quite understandably. Mental health issues are long term, costly to deal with, and do not really have any sort of ‘cure’, making the cost/benefit analysis brutally slanted against investing more in it.

This is where the gendered issue also comes in. This emphasis on CBT and talk therapy better suits women than men. The short appointments harm men, who need longer to ‘open up’ and address their problems. These forms of therapy are known to be less effective for men, but they’re all that’s available unless you can find a self-funding group or can afford private care.

If it wasn’t helping me, why would I keep going, using up a slot in a stretched service that could be helping someone else?

The drugs have their own side effects and issues. They can make you extremely sleepy and ‘zombified’, they can cause nightmares and night terrors, can make you feel worse in the short term – which is less helpful in emergency situations. Some antidepressants can flatten your emotions so much that you can no longer cry, even when you might need to or it might be appropriate, or can become a bit of a ‘robot’. Some can affect your libido, either making you unbearably horny all the time, or unbearably sexless, uninterested, anhedonic and even unable to orgasm or even get aroused.

Yes, being unbearably horny all the time is just as bad, in its own way, as its opposite.


Our culture and political environment at the moment seem to embody the worst of both worlds.

On one hand you have the ‘right on’ activists and so on who will fight ‘for you’, eclipsing your actual beliefs and needs with the ones they project upon you. They will uselessly fight for ‘representation’ you don’t give a toss about, while being absent when you want to campaign for public understanding or more money for mental health services. These same people who claim to care so passionately about you and your problems, will ignore you and your disability if you disagree with them in the slightest.

On the other hand there are people who think mental health problems aren’t real and that you just need to change your mindset or go to the gym more. There are also those in this group who think you are faking it unless you’re missing a leg, or if you can mask well. Those who want to take away the scant provisions and benefits you do get because they believe you to be ‘scrounging’.

Somehow we have conspired to create a sociopolitical environment that manifests the very worst aspects of both ‘left’ and right-wing attitudes when it comes to marginalised and suffering people.


You can’t, really, the will to do so isn’t there and those who could advocate for change and investment are too busy insisting that documentaries about feudal Japan cast a wheelchair-bound Peruvian as the Shogun. Social change is difficult, and both political wings don’t seem interested in doing what’s needed, only superimposing their own ideologies on the issue.

If you were to try and make things better it would take money, and spending money is never popular with British governments, especially in an already cash-strapped NHS.

You would give additional training for General Practitioners.

You would increase the number of Community Mental Health Teams.

You would increase the number of psychiatrists in the NHS and available to CMHT.

You would increase the number, and variety of therapists on the NHS, or create a voucher scheme to allow those unresponsive to CBT to seek out other more effective therapies at a discounted rate.

Men’s appointments would be longer, to allow the additional time to get comfortable and to open up.

Home visits would be available for those with extreme anxiety or agoraphobia.

None of this is likely to happen, but perhaps in putting it out there it will have some effect.

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By Rachel Haywire, Cultural Futurist

High tech. Low life. High heels. Low cut.

As with every subculture under the sun, the definition of cyberpunk constantly changes. We have our usual suspects and household names in literature and film, whether Neuromancer and Snow Crash or Blade Runner and The Matrix. Then we have newer shows like Altered Carbon and The Peripheral that have been adapted from cyberpunk literature. Yet something is clearly missing from this picture. Fashion is one of the most influential yet often overlooked aspects of cyberpunk, evident in all these projects yet rarely discussed with equal complexity. I will do my best to change that and chronicle how fashion has influenced the cyberpunk genre and made it what it is today.

Let’s do this.

Present day. The video game Cyberpunk 2077 infiltrates the minds of a new generation, drawing inspiration from the cyberpunk fashion of the 90s and early 2000s. We see Instagram influencers cosplaying characters from the game, creating a cyclical cultural exchange. It’s all so Spenglarian. Yet where did the fashion element of cyberpunk begin? Indeed it wasn’t William Gibson or Keanu Reeves who brought it to the runway. Molly Millions from Neuromancer was iconic, and maybe she inspired Trinity’s character from The Matrix, but who and what inspired Trinity’s clothing?

Alexander McQueen, one of London’s most accomplished designers, comes to mind. A predecessor to cyberpunk, he showcased models dressed up as cyborgs in his luxury couture, crafting a world where underground culture could rise above. Elaborate headpieces and makeup facilitated this experiment, creating a vivid display of human/technology on the runway. Much like Andy Warhol’s use of The Factory, McQueen transformed the runway into a vibrant canvas, weaving together diverse threads of society under a unifying tapestry. A philosopher of high fashion, he infused his creations with vitality by orchestrating his models in dramatic, epic escapades in which technology became a chic component of artistic rebellion.

Louis Vuitton was another designer who brought cyberpunk to the runway. By embedding LED lights into jackets and dresses and weaving them into the fabric of shoes and handbags, he created dynamic patterns and motifs that pulsed and changed colour, evoking the futuristic noir aesthetic of cyberpunk. He became a household name among the elite and their aspirants, putting himself through the high-tech and low-life of society to build his own empire. Becoming a fixture on Parisian runways, he branded himself ‘the enemy of couture’. It was only a short time before the brand Louis Vuitton was anywhere and everywhere. As we all know, the counter-culture is always a few dances away from the mainstream.

These designers produced a distinct mixture of art and technology that influenced future generations. Cyberpunk fashion was unique before literature, film, and video games entered the scene. The style came first, paving the way for the following cinematic, literary, and cultural innovations.

From Body Modification to Biohacking

There were 25 Body Suspensions with hooks into the skin over a period of 13 years in Japan, USA, Germany and Australia. The body was suspended in different positions, in varying locations and diverse situations. Not all the performances were static. The body swung, spun, swayed and propelled itself. It was also moved by motors and machines. And in some of the suspensions heartbeat and muscle sounds were amplified, providing an extended acoustical aura for the stretched skin body.”

-Seaside Suspension: Event for Wind and Waves”, Jogashima, Miura 1981 

Sterlarc, an iconoclast and performance artist inspired by the eras of McQueen and Vuitton, took the fusion of technology and the human body to a bonus level. He headhunted surgeons who could turn his fantasies into a reality by implanting an ear onto his arm. His body was remotely controlled through electronic muscle stimulators connected to the internet. During his live performances, he used a robotic third arm, creating a spectacle that captivated audiences of artists, entrepreneurs, and students alike. This agitprop hybrid of human and machine demonstrated the potential of human augmentation.

In a similar universe, we had BMEzine (Body Modification Ezine), which emerged as the most popular body modification website online, reaching its peak in the mid-90s. People showcased their tattoos, piercings, transdermal implants, and scarifications to the world, promoting their skills and personas to connect with like minds. Embracing digital ownership of one’s body as the ultimate cyberpunk statement, this early online period was accompanied by sensual and taboo IRL events.

Los Angeles nightclubs hosted cyberpunk-themed parties, where groups like AMF Korsets produced shows in which models were suspended by hooks in front of live audiences to the soundtrack of industrial and dark ambient music. Magazines like Skin Too and Propaganda Magazine captured this era well, blending fetish and fashion with music and machinery. While most people think of fetish culture as a sexual thing, it also represents an aesthetic that focuses on pushing the boundaries of both the mainstream media and the human form. In the tradition of Sterlac, the late Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle took body modification to a subversive conclusion, redefining cyberpunk by making transsexuality a posthuman statement.

Victoria Modesta, a songwriter and creative director who suffered a leg injury at birth, had her leg voluntarily amputated and reinvented herself as a bionic pop artist. Now sporting a bionic leg, she has performed at festivals across the globe, melding cyberpunk and luxury fashion while presenting at tech conferences. Her appeal is both creative and intellectual, embodying the DIY spirit of biohacking.

Cybergoths and Club Kids

In the mid-2000s, cybergoths began showing up at alternative nightclubs, acting as a living subculture blend of goth, rave, and industrial. Many were models for MySpace bands (you had to be there) or SuicideGirls (think OnlyFans for goths), while others simply dressed up as themselves. Cybergoth, unlike cyberpunk, did not have an entire canon of literature. Yet it had a rich universe of music from the goth, rave, and industrial realms that continues to influence what we call cyberpunk today.

Back to the present: Cyberpunk 2077 has drawn inspiration from cybergoth models and musicians, and we now recognize ourselves in these video games after witnessing our underground statements being propelled into the mainstream. There was a time when every girl in the scene resembled Lara Croft from the video game Tomb Raider – or maybe it was Lara Croft who resembled us.

There was also Lizbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a hacker who became a fashion prototype in the infosec community or – again – the other way around. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo featured this same archetype of the Empowered Female Hacker. EFH. Angelina Jolie, who played “Acid Burn” from Hackers, inspired Lara Croft as much as our bands and fetish shoots. She had the meta-experience of playing herself in the film adaptation of the same video game. How did we get so postmodern and self-referential? 

Repo! The Genetic Opera was a musical that featured everyone from Ogre of the industrial band Skinny Puppy to Paris fucking Hilton. Repo! The Genetic Opera inspired IRL performances in front of the big screen. Focused on the quintessential cyberpunk theme of genetic modification and the dystopian fantasy of surgery-as-trend, it became the Rocky Horror of our era. The costuming showcased a blend of gothic and futuristic styles featuring dark hues, asymmetrical designs, and an array of eclectic accessories.

Then there was Cyberdog, an avant-garde fashion company founded in London’s Camden Town. Cyberdog established its own cybergoth fashion store that was popular with the digital crowd. People would dance at the UK nightclub Slimelight, dressed up like cyborgs, while sporting Cyberdog clothing that included UV-reactive fabrics, neon goggles, and circuit board-inspired designs on latex and leather garments. 

Cyberpunk fashion has been with us for a long time, yet somehow its history has been obscured by the chaotic algorithms of Hollywood. It nods as far back as the club kid parties in NYC, seen in avant-garde films like Liquid Sky and modern retellings like Party Monster. Yet before Michael Alig murdered his friend Angel against a backdrop of heroin-chic-cyborg-models and military-fetish-drag-queens, girls with early access to the online world transformed themselves into living dolls.

Lolitas and Living Dolls

Like Alice in Wonderland became the default style for young women in the mid-2000s, Lolita fashion held onto a similar theme of curiosity and innocence in the 90s. 

Inspired by musicians like Courtney Love and Fiona Apple and Japanese street-wear magazines like Fruits, a new crop of girls could suddenly be found wearing brightly coloured babydoll dresses. The fairytale-like clothing turned them into feminist characters out of Nabokov’s Lolita. Again, we’d see the ownership of one’s body as both a political and fashion statement. Armed with poetry about self-mutilation and eating disorders, the lolitas took back the night by turning themselves into living dolls. Emilie Autumn, a gothic musician, stepped in to command the night.

“I’m Gothic Lolita

And you are a criminal

I’m not even legal

I’m just a dead little girl

But ruffles and laces

And candy sweet faces

Directed your furtive hand

I perfectly understand

So it’s my fault?

No, Gothic Lolita

I am your sugar

I am your cream

I am your worst nightmare

Now scream”

-Emilie Autumn

This rise of this taboo dark woman archetype, this cybergoth lolita girl now making waves at the tech conference, is a dollification of the #bossgirl. Join us at the Sad Girls bar. These dolls have now come to life. We have transformed ourselves into avatars of IRL models, who are the predecessors to video game characters and AI avatars. At last, after all these years, we have become ourselves.

Are you there, Neo? It’s me, Capitalism.

The creator class has long expressed itself through fashion, a language of beauty and self-expression, weaving stories of war and enigma that span centuries. A mere glimpse of a skirt or a necklace can transport you to another era or alternate timeline. We tell a story about ourselves, our culture, and our inner world with each outfit we wear and each accessory we curate. Whether we are being ironic, serious, or something in between, we are setting the foundation for a sincere future.

By incorporating our perspectives and experiences into our living personas, we create a visual language that speaks to the posthuman experience. Why has cyberpunk fashion been overlooked and undervalued in the broader fashion industry? It deserves its own research and chronology. It deserves its own lexicon. It deserves a place in the history books alongside the other great fashion movements.

The history of cyberpunk fashion is vast and spectacular, and it’s surprising that I’m among the first to chronicle it in this manner. Or perhaps, by writing this article, I’m unknowingly gentrifying it, with countless others having come before me. Everyone believes they’re Neo from The Matrix, but few are willing to accept the possibility of being Mr Smith. It’s a complex web of characters where your Mr Smith may be someone else’s Neo.

Yet I digress. As we uncover the roots of cyberpunk fashion, we can inspire a new generation to push the boundaries of what it means to be posthuman. We can inspire everyone, from the kids on the streets to the executives in Hollywood, to embrace this intersection between art and technology in the most transgressive ways possible. We can shift the narrative with the drop of an acid tab. We can build the hallucinations of tomorrow as we watch our creations come to life in the theatre of existence. We can watch AI generate sci-fi novels from our all-too-human posts. We can play ourselves in our video games and/or reinvent ourselves as new characters. Choose your own adventure, user. We can shitpost. We can aesthetically engineer.

We can do literally anything. 

This is cyberpunk. This is fashion. Cyberpunk fashion is the sphere in which cyberpunk film, video games, and literature have found their inspiration. It’s the runway. It’s the cosplay. It’s everything high and low and in between. This is us. The club kids, cybergoths, and living dolls. The pin-up girls of our story have emerged from the depths of the underground to star in the most popular film adaptations of our algorithms. Our story is a tale as old as time and a song as old as God. What is fashion? Fashion is the muse of the media.

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Rape is a heinous crime that violates an individual’s dignity, autonomy, and physical integrity. It is a traumatic experience that leaves lasting scars on the victim’s psyche and can result from distortions in the perpetrator’s psyche.

You’d think this preamble would be obvious and wouldn’t need to be stated, but these are the Stupid Ages, and we have to get by without assuming the obvious and without nuance. So it goes.

The depiction and discussion of rape within art and literature have been a subject of intense and vicious debate for a long time. The last time I even entertained discussion of this topic, I was subjected to the worst kinds of hatred and sabotage by outraged morons, which has – at this point – now lasted over a decade. While some argue that such portrayals are necessary for various reasons, or at least the possibility of such portrayals (my position) or to raise awareness, others believe it can be triggering and exploitative and should never be represented.

So why would anyone want to create such a thing in their art?

Why is a story about a football team taking a plane ride boring, but a story about their plane crashing and them having to engage in cannibalism to survive more interesting? Why do most stories include conflict, violence or other challenging themes?

Because it is interesting because it is engaging, and because it’s powerful.

Mythology is full of stories that depict rape. From the Greek god Zeus to the Norse god Loki, many powerful figures in our common mythohistory have committed sexual violence. While these stories are often disturbing, they reflect the harsh realities of the world in which they were created and can reflect similar harsh realities in our history or our fictional worlds. They also provide an opportunity to explore the psychological and emotional impact of rape on both the victim and the perpetrator.

It is worth noting that rape fantasies are common, especially among women. While this may seem counterintuitive, it indicates the complexity of human sexuality. Rape fantasies are not about rape per se; they are a way for women to explore their desires in a safe and controlled environment. This can also be a way to reclaim power and agency because of actual rape or because society can often seek to control female sexuality. In the context of storytelling, rape can be used to explore these fantasies in a paradoxically consensual and respectful way.

Art and literature have always been powerful mediums of communication and expression. They can evoke strong emotions and provoke thought. Art has been used to comment on social issues, critique societal norms, and to raise awareness about social injustices. Similarly, literature has been used to provide a window into different experiences and to explore complex themes. Why shouldn’t this include rape?

One of the benefits of depicting rape within art and literature is that it can provide a platform for survivors to tell their stories. Art and literature can provide a space for survivors to express their experiences in a way that is meaningful to them. This can be an empowering process, allowing survivors to reclaim their stories and give voice to their experiences. By doing so, they can help others who have gone through similar experiences feel less alone. Rape victims are frequently blamed and shamed. By showing rape honestly and authentically, artists and writers can help break down these stigmas and promote understanding. This can be particularly powerful in raising awareness and encouraging action.

Moreover, the depiction of rape within art and literature can serve as a tool for education. Art and literature can provide a way to educate people about the realities of rape, including its impact on victims and the societal factors that contribute to it. Through art and literature, people can learn about the issue’s complexities and be better equipped to address it. This can include understanding the various forms of rape, such as date rape, marital rape, and sexual assault, and its impact on different populations, including women, men, and children.

It is essential to consider the context and purpose of the depiction, but even if it is depicted in a way you subjectively perceive as exploitative or gratuitous, you should still respect the free expression rights of the creator and its frequent utility to victims. Nothing about any piece of art requires you to consume it.

Why should rape be treated differently from war, murder, torture or any other extreme act, conflict or situation? These are the places where stories live, where they’re more exciting and engaging and therefore ripe for the existence of art, high or low, tasteful or otherwise.

Why would an artist choose to depict a difficult subject? Why wouldn’t they?

Why wouldn’t they?

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As part of his BBC Maestro course, Alan Moore asks us to watch a film and to examine it for its ‘texture and cohesion’, by which Alan means the cultural and other artefacts within this fictional world that help establish its existence beyond the bounds of the film, pages of the book or the bounds of the comic frame. These include newscasts on in-world television, fake shops, fake products, etc.

I chose to examine the French black-comedy film ‘Bigbug’, which seemed to have an interesting world and vision, highly stylised and visually arresting in a way only the French seem capable of.

We are almost immediately introduced to the world through TV (or projected holovision as it turns out to be). We see a show called ‘Homo Ridiculous’, where cyborgs (reminiscent of RoboCop in style) walk their human pets and engage in somewhat comedic behaviour. This excerpt is one of many, and seems to be a cruelly sadistic joke at the expense of humanity, played upon them by the ‘Yonyx’, a transhuman group who appear to be slowly taking over the world, with increasingly dystopian hints dropped through the film from Yonyx-Human bullfighting to human foie gras.

Ironically, there don’t seem to be a lot of actual animals in the show besides Toby-6, a cloned terrier belonging to a neighbour. In place of meat, people are eating bugs, and we’re presented with a commercial example of this, ‘Kreekit’, roasted crickets in a can. It’s doubtful that any successful marketing of insect protein would be done this way, but it helps world-building and presents this as perfecting normal.

We find that we are in a lovely suburban home. Despite the French setting and origin of the film, this is a retro-futuristic building in the style of the ‘Gernsback Continuum’, a 1950s American vision of the future with chrome refrigerators, finned cars, bright colours and motifs and flourishes from right out of the Jetsons. These artistic cues are combined with more contemporary ideas about the future, an ‘internet of things, screens on everything, voice-activated home-help, innovative house technology and always-connected internet.

The one preparing the crickets, and other snacks, is a gynoid. This gynoid is humanoid in shape but does things like removing her finger to power a whisk and moving at an inhumanly fast speed when grating. Her colour scheme and angular clothing suggest classic appliances such as the KitchenAid standing mixer.

In our tour of the house, courtesy of the camera, we are treated to odd juxtapositions. The house owner keeps paper books, writes by hand and has ‘antiques’ (items familiar to us from our lifespans) such as a Rubik’s Cube or a rotary telephone presented under glass. Later, we find the daughter of the house also has a bunch of antiques, old computers on shelves and cupboard spaces in her room.

Through the eyes of the gynoid, we discover that everyone else in the house is putting up a pretence and a mask; they are as false in their way as the gynoid is. We know this because she can analyse their body language, voice and other cues to provide emotional probability read-outs. This device allows subtext to become text and gives us insight into the powers and capabilities of the robots.

Even the kitchen is like one big appliance, with the various surfaces able to rotate and turn about, almost like being inside one of those mixers, a further expression of the house’s automation. It incorporates ludicrously specialised devices, such as an egg cooker that rotates eggs and slices off their tops with a laser, ready for breakfast. It needs to be clarified whether this means that this is a particularly well-off household or whether everyone lives in such luxury. Still, given the extent of the suburb and the gadgets and other devices that everyone has, this is an affluent society, if not a post-scarcity one (given the lack of normal food).

Not all of our context comes through objects, robots or television; some is dropped in through conversation. Since the people in the house all have tangled relationships, and given that one man is there attempting to seduce the woman of the house, it makes sense to have introductions in conversation, which is where we learn that the dog is cloned and that the daughter of the house is adopted from the flooding of the Netherlands.

We also pick up other details like banning cheeses (which must hit differently in France). We are constantly interrupted throughout the movie by giant floating adverts that personalise themselves to the situation and the people in the house according to what is happening. It’s an obvious satire but exaggerated to an absurd degree. We learn that cybernetic implants can be repossessed (and that the ‘bug’ also extends to these prosthetics).

People are so utterly dependent upon their machines, even the antique-obsessed woman of the house, that one woman in the film almost suffocates because her meditation app glitches and doesn’t tell her to breathe out. We all know people who cannot unplug, even for a moment. All that’s missing is the social media aspect. However, people are encouraged to make fools of themselves online (Homo Ridiculous) or to subject themselves to more advertising from their appliances in exchange for free updates.

All very climate apocalypse and ‘live in the pod and eat bugs’ a very current paranoiac trend and very much in our current zeitgeist of the future. These homes are fortresses, climate-controlled pods of armoured glass where even the scent can be tailored. We get the idea that this sort of thing is typical, and even through an advert for ‘Isola Paradiso’, we learn that there are ‘pools of distilled water’ and ‘hypoallergenic beaches’. The increasing rate of allergies has been extended into the future to an even higher degree, a symptom of an artificial lifestyle.

Through news reports, we learn that traffic jams are afflicting the air and ground area. We are also shown more sinister antics of the Yonyx and their prejudice towards humanity and learn of their fleet of robot drones that they are set to deploy. It’s never outright stated, but the impression is very much that the Yonyx are staging a full-on coup over the world and are behind the in-house imprisonments and all the chaos outside.

Ultimately, the Yonyx are undone by their hubris, and destroyed by their drones due to an error. Frankenstein was undone by his creation, but in this, it is the monster’s creation that undoes him. Besides the point, but interesting nonetheless.

The film might be limited to a single house, but through the items in the background and on display, through the news items, conversation and products (some of which are also characters), we do get a sense of the wider world, outside the lines, the very thing Moore was talking about.

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https://greensdictofslang.com/ is a fantastic resource for looking up slang, and the online version is better than the paper one with quite powerful search functions. Here’s just a sample from me looking into the slang of the Gathercole period. Just be sure to right-click and ‘open new tab’ when looking at the detailed definitions, or you’ll lose your search.

Absent-Minded Beggar: Soldier.
Absquatulate: Leave abruptly.
Acid: Sarcasm.
Ack Emma: After Midnight.
Ackers: Money.
Act the Goat: Be foolish.
Adam’s Storeroom: Lady Parts/Womb.
Adzooks!: Exclamation.
After-Clap: Sudden and unexpected blow after the danger had seemingly passed.
Air Your Heels: Loiter.
All Beer & Skittles: Hedonism and fun.
All my Eye & Betty Martin: Nonsense.
All Sir Garnet: All in order, everything as it should be.
All the World to a China Orange: A near certainty.
Ally Slope: To escape, to take off.
Anchor, Swallow the: To reluctantly change course.
Anno Domini: Old age and its effects.
Anoint: Beat/thrash.
Apartments to Let: Crazy.
Apple Dumplings: Breasts.
Argle-Bargle: Argument.
Arkansas Toothpick: A large (bowie) knife.
Artful Dodger: Lodger, or penis.
Atch: Arrest.
Atkins: Tommy Atkins/Tommy, a private, a soldier.
Auctioneer: A fist, to knock things down.
Baa-Lamb: An amicable or pleasing person, esp used by women of meek, tractable men.
Backscuttle: To leave unobtrusively (out the back).
Bad Scran: Bad luck.
Bag of Mystery: A Sausage.
Baked Wind: Nonsense, eg ‘Hot Air’.
Baker-Kneed: Effeminate.
Baksheesh: A tip or gratuity.
Ball of Fire: A person with energy and determination.
Ballyrag: To bully and scold.
Banchoot: From an unspeakable insult in India, gentle insult in English.
Bandook: A rifle.
Beat Banagher: To tell a surpassingly good story or do something superlatively well.
Bantam: A young inexperienced man.
Barbary Coast: Red Light district, esp if popular with sailors.
Barber’s Cat: A sickly and malnourished person (the opposite of a butcher’s dog), also a gossip.
Bargee: Stereotypical bargeman, loud, coarse and rude.
Barking Iron: Pistol.
Barmpot/Bampot: An eccentric.
Barnacles: Spectacles/Eyeglasses.
Barrel Fever: Drunk.
Barrel-Boarder: Old drunk.
At Full Bat: Top speed.
Batchy: Silly or stupid.
Batwing: A Bow-tie.
Beachcomber: An idler.
Beano: A fight, or a party, depending on context.
To Know How Many Blue Beans Make Five: To be informed and aware.
Beat the Dutch: Do something outstanding.
Put to bed with a Shovel: To murder.
Beef-Witted: Stupid.
Beerage/Beerocracy: A pub’s regulars, a ‘peerage’.
Beer-Trap: The mouth.
Beetle: A madman, a stalker, a fanatic.
Beetle Crusher: A foot – a big one.
All Behind like the Cow’s Tail: Late.
Belcher: Handkerchief.
Bellibone: A well-dressed young woman.
Big Pot: An important person.
Bill: A name to use for an otherwise unknown person.
Birdcage: A prison, esp a temporary one.
Bit of Skin: A young girl or man who is one’s lover.
Bit of Fat: An unexpected advantage.
Blandander: To cajole with blandishments.
Blind Dragon: A fierce old woman or chaperone.
Bloat: A worthless, conceited person.
Blue Devils: A fit of depression.
Blue’O’Clock: Dawn.
Bluff the Rats: Spread panic.
Bobby Dazzler: Anything exceptional or wonderful.
Bog-Eyed: Tired, or drunk.
Bog-Latin: Fake latin, or gaelic.
Boiled Shirt: Respectable, upper class sort of man.
Where the Bottle Got the Cork: In the neck.
On the Bounce: Defaulting on a payment.
Box of Dominoes: The mouth.
Brickish: A good sort of person.
Broadbrow: Someone with a lot of different interests (as opposed to high or low brow).
Broomstick Marriage: A common-law marriage.
Browsing and Sluicing: Eating and drinking.
Brummagem: Second hand, or fake.
Bum-Freezer: A short jacket.
Burn Bad Powder: To fart.

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For an upcoming story, I need to situate it at a glassmaker, one that made a particular type of glass that fell out of favour in more modern times: uranium glass.

Uranium was first identified in the late 1700s but was soon used in glassmaking as it created a unique fluorescent colour. Many glassmakers began using it, and in England, one of the great creators of uranium glass was James Powell and Sons, also known as Whitefriar’s Glass. Interestingly enough, James Powell was from the same family as the founder of the Boy Scouts.

Uranium glass fell out of favour after World War II as sources of uranium (needed for bomb-making) dried up or became prohibitively expensive. The public became afraid of anything relating to radiation, even though uranium glass tableware was perfectly safe.

With my story set in the 1920s, I don’t need to worry about that, though physicists and fiction writers were already pondering the potential power of the atom and how it might be used, which is an association I want to exploit.

Whitefriar’s Glass was an existing company, established around 1680 and situated just off Fleet Street, though they relocated in 1923 to a factory in Wealdstone.

Interestingly, there is a ‘weald stone’ that was used to mark the boundary between parishes. It’s a sarsen stone, the same type used at Stonehenge, and its age, or at least how long it has been there, being unknown. A bit of a mystery in keeping with what I’m going for.

Powell and his sons took over Whitefriar’s Glass in 1834, six years before the elder Powell’s death. Weirdly, nobody involved had any experience with glassmaking. Still, they appeared to take to it quickly, to learn the necessary skills and – perhaps because of their lack of knowledge – to try new glassmaking methods and succeed with many of them.

James’ sons Arthur and Nathaniel made a name for themselves through the company in stained glass. They owned several technical-process patents, giving the company a strong reputation. They were amongst the first companies to offer glowing uranium glass due to their technical and innovative background.

Thanks to technological innovations and insights, they also produced a lot of architectural glass, becoming associated with Jackson, Burnes-Jones, de Morgan and Doyle and the arts and crafts movement around the same time.

The move to a new factory in the interwar period was intended to ramp up production and to allow the company to grow, but a planned village alongside the factor for workers to live in (taken from arts and crafts ideas) fell through as the factory was too expensive to build, in and of itself.

Even with that expense, the company continued to grow until after World War II, when it began a steep decline, finally winding up operations in 1980. Many examples of their work are either still found in situ or held in collections in various museums, though sadly, the factory was demolished and cleared.

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Like many kids who were forced to read even portions of ‘classic’ novels, especially boys, I loathe Jane Eyre. Silas Marner runs a close second, but Jane Eyre ranks higher as it is wildly over-celebrated, and one media company or another seems constantly engaged in making and remaking it.

My frustration at grappling with such a dull and hideous work was only made worse because much better books, such as Animal Farm or The War of the Worlds, were also on the school reading lists, but we never got to study them.


So if I am to break down and reconstruct a novel that I hate (at the urging of Alan Moore’s BBC Maestro course), I choose this horrible, dull, insipid ‘classic’.

So what’s the plot? What’s actually engaging in Jane Eyre?

The Plot: 

The novel is a first-person narrative from the perspective of the title character. Its setting is somewhere in the north of England, late in the reign of George III (1760–1820).[a] It has five distinct stages: Jane’s childhood at Gateshead Hall, where she is emotionally and physically abused by her aunt and cousins; her education at Lowood School, where she gains friends and role models but suffers privations and oppression; her time as governess at Thornfield Hall, where she falls in love with her mysterious employer, Edward Fairfax Rochester; her time in the Moor House, during which her earnest but cold clergyman cousin, St John Rivers, proposes to her; and ultimately her reunion with, and marriage to, her beloved Rochester. These sections provide perspectives on several important social issues and ideas, many of which are critical of the status quo.

So what’s interesting, more than anything, is the backdrop. This was the time of the Napoleonic Wars and the social shifts and ideas that would eventually lead to things like the Chartists arising.

What’s also interesting are the gothic elements in the book (Rochester as a Byronic hero, aspects of misery tourism and the presence of the supernatural).

Supernatural elements include telepathy, ghosts, prophetic dreaming, a ‘demon’, and religious factors and concepts – often somewhat critically.

Interesting elements:

  • Napoleonic and revolutionary backdrop.
  • Gothic/Byronic aspects.
  • Social criticism.

The Supernatural:

  • Jane is described as being like an elf, imp or sprite.
  • In her reflection, Jane sees herself in such a light (or as ghostly).
  • Rochester is unsettled by her.
  • The ghost in The Red Room.
  • Jane keeps searching for the supernatural or other oddities.
  • Jane and Rochester share a telepathic link.
  • Jane talks about fairies and appears to take them seriously (The Men in Green)
  • Bertha, the madwoman in the attic, is suspected of being a demon or vampire.
  • Presentiment and foreshadowing.
  • Ignis fatuus (Will’o’Wisp).
  • Implied mediumship.

Rewritten Plot:

Jane is a strange and peculiar girl who is treated poorly throughout her childhood and adolescence. She has gifts that others do not, sees the world differently and encounters the supernatural from a young age. Not so many years before, she’d have been considered a witch and hung, but we are now in the years following The Enlightenment, and nobody quite believes these things any more, at least nobody with any wealth or education. We don’t spend too long on these sections, instead focussing on the last portion, her time at Thornfield Hall.

Rochester has ‘seen some shit’ in his time and is now, secretly, a monster hunter of some sort. His interest in Jane starts out as the practicality of needing a governess to cover for his secretive and disturbing adventures, then professional, seeing her as a potential fellow monster hunter – one with gifts – and finally romantic.

In this version, the ghosts and monsters are not implied, nor devices to suggest an unreliable narrator or psychological state, rather they are true. The ghost in the red room is real, the premonitions are real, Jane may have a touch of the unnatural in her bloodline. Bertha is either possessed or a supernatural creature herself (a zombie, vampire or werewolf perhaps).

By the end of the rewritten work we have Rochester and Jane as equal partners, his strength, passion and martial skill coupled with her supernatural talents making them an effective duo at combating the supernatural, just as the world is about to be plunged into a massive period of revolution and bloodshed.

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Most editors I have worked with dislike the omniscient point of view and dislike it even more then you express inner thoughts of a variety of characters in the third person, rather than describing some outward manifestation of their inner life. Moore, however, suggests that there is the ‘close third-person’, and I intend to rub editor’s noses in it if it ever comes up again.

Exercise: Try rewriting some of your work in close third person, using free indirect discourse to hop between the minds and thoughts of different characters.

I seem to naturally fall into this a little, but have been restraining myself. I will now remove the limiters and rewrite part of my short story The Voice in the Radio, the intervention and intrusion of the character Crispin.


Crispin awoke, his mouth feeling like an old mouldy carpet, his head throbbing with a hangover and the acid aftertaste of cheap wine on his tongue. Screeching noises came from the attic, static whines, pops and hisses that seemed to bore through his skull like a drill with every change in tone.

He put his hand on William’s side of the bed where the covers were thrown back. It was cold. He’d been up a while then.

Crispin covered his head with his pillow as another high-pitched shriek bullied its way down from the roof and into his ears. It was no use. He’d have to get up.

He sat up slowly, moving his head as little as possible and shifted to the edge of the bed, pulling on his dressing gown – even silk felt rough this morning – and fumbling for a cigarette from his pack on the nightstand.

He was out.

He would rather, Crispin reflected, face the spectral creatures of the grave again than deal with William in the morning without coffee or cigarettes. There was nothing for it but to plead for mercy and to hope the man… no, the thoughtless boy, would show it.

In bare feet, Crispin stumbled the vast distance to the attic ladder and rung by tortuous rung, ascended.

Crispin’s head appeared through the square entry to the attic, hair tousled, eyes bruised and watery, a childish pout upon his lips to Gathercole’s eye.

“William, chap, is there the slightest possibility you could cease all this infernal radio screeching. I have the most beastly hangover.”

Even speaking was painful, and this close the radio sound made Crispin’s head hum with unsympathetic vibration.

Mildly irritated by the interruption, Gathercole carefully and pointedly set the Ersa to one side, ensuring the nib was not in contact with the table.

“I’m inspired, Crispin. I have to pursue this line of thought to its end, or I shan’t be able to rest.”

“You knew,” he thought to himself, “when you took up with me that I had a singular obsession. Must we go through this every time?”

Crispin clambered up the ladder the rest of the way into the attic. “I shan’t be able to rest until you stop. What the bloody hell are you doing anyway?”

Crispin swallowed back the taste of bile in his mouth and tried to stand straight and resolute, all too conscious of the difficulty he was having focussing, and feeling like he was swaying visibly, though Gathercole didn’t seem to notice.

“Since you ask…”

Crispin groaned, too late in realising his mistake, and sat – in his pyjamas – on an old valise to endure the lecture.

“Bugger,” he thought. “Why did I say that?”

“… I’m sure you’re aware that until recently radios used crystals as a rectifier.”

“I did not know that. Nor do I know what a rectifier is.”

“He treats me like a child sometimes, but he’s so like a child himself in other things,” thought Crispin.

Gathercole smiled inwardly but barely let it show on his face. He loved to explain things and Crispin was his most frequent audience. It often helped him order his thoughts and unstuck them when they were in a rut.

“Well, for your sake we can consider it to be a sort of translator. Radio waves are translated by the rectifier, typically galena crystals, into a signal that can be resolved as sound. Valves and amplifiers have made them outdated, which means I picked up these old radios and their headsets rather cheaply.”

“Maybe I kept some cigarettes in my pockets?” Thought Crispin, distractedly. “I can’t face this without them.”

“Hurrah,” Crispin absently patted his pyjama pockets in a futile quest for a cigarette. “Lend me a Dunhill, would you?”

Gathercole obliged.

“Well, there’s no reason why other semi-conducting crystals shouldn’t be used. We use galena for convenience. I hypothesise that certain types of crystal may be better suited to tuning into the energistic vibrations of the spirit plane and, thereby, translating them into sound.”

He trailed off slightly, thoughts racing ahead of his mouth. Perhaps he should be studying old lapidaries for crystals with the right resonance, rather than trying different stones at random.

Crispin lit the Dunhill and took a deep, luxurious drag. Pure bliss. Perhaps there was a reason he loved William after all. Outside his obsessions and lectures, he could be considerate. Time to feign interest. “Hence all the shrieking, the very cries of the damned.”

“If only,” Gathercole sighed wistfully. “Alas, it only seems to be interference. No tones or voices, no signals from the beyond as yet. Despite amplifying the signal using the more modern technology and despite focussing on the signal range that seems to trouble the spirits the most when we use the radio pentacle.”

It was confounding. Surely that band must be the vibration the spirits inhabited in some way. Otherwise, how could it impede or stop them?

“Maybe they have hangovers too,” Crispin thought, “After all, radio waves don’t directly interact with me, but they’re painful.” He tried to fumble the right words together to express that idea to William without sounding stupid.

“Perhaps,” Crispin opined. “Perhaps the spirits don’t like that frequency, which is why they react so badly to it. In which case, they would hardly be transmitting at that frequency, right?”

His fuddled head struggled to remember old music lessons.

“We find middle C with C sharp above rather jarring and unpleasant, and so we don’t play it in our musical combinations. Unless one is deliberately perverse, of course.”

Gathercole blinked and ran through that thought in his head. It made a certain kind of sense. We could hear notes like the one Crispin mentioned, but we avoided them. A frequency that caused spirits pain – somehow – might be one they avoided too.

Gathercole considered that for a moment. “You may well be right, in which case, I need to re-test all these samples at different frequencies.”

Crispin sighed inwardly, so much for a peaceful morning.

As Gathercole turned back to the radios and they began to shriek again, Crispin retreated back down the ladder. “I’m going to the bloody pub for a late breakfast and the hair of the dog. I intend to stay there until I’m sure you’ve wound up this infernal racket.”

Gathercole vaguely waved, not really paying attention. He was caught up in Crispin’s idea and was searching for new answers.

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A paragraph-length poem, in which you are only permitted to use a single vowel of your choice:

We regret
He needs egress
He expressed
The term negress

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In his BBC Maestro course, Alan Moore talks about the various rhetorical characters of the Greeks, in particular, the Attic and Asiatic styles. The first blunt and to the point, such as Hemmingway, the second overblown and florid, like that of Moore himself.

He encourages those taking the course to experiment with both styles and then synthesise the two. My own personal style is that of embellishment in the Asiatic style, as you can probably tell from my circumlocution in this very sentence (such as using the word ‘circumlocution’). My tendency to fall into run-on sentences is probably also evident.

Let’s take a typically Asiatic paragraph from one of my stories on this very blog:

Smoke curled from the long ash of the Dunhill, twisting its way across the room like a fragment of grey silk until it met the draft from the cracked window, which finally shattered it. The cigarette sat, ignored, in Gathercole’s mouth as he hunched over the spilt guts of several radios. His hands moved from the Ersa soldering iron to the screwdriver, taking the radios apart and putting them back together repeatedly. Every now and then, he would stop, reference his scattered notes, and make the tiniest of additional adjustments.

First, let’s dial the Asiatic style up to eleven:

Dunhills were advertised with the slogan: “The hygienic cigarette” and were some of the first to have proper filters. We can suggest or add to that description in the text.

We can stretch the analogies in that description, spend longer on the window and linger more on Gathercole’s description (since this is the first paragraph in a short story). We can emphasise the difficulty and complexity of what he is doing more when describing the radios, and hammer home the repetition and methodical nature of what he is doing.

OK, so, completely overflowing the already florid description:

Diminutive traces of clean smoke curled from the precariously outstretched ash of the Dunhull cigarette and slowly waltzed across the room like a sheer fragment of grey silk until it was finally torn asunder by it the stronger breeze from the slightly opened window. The cigarette sat alone, ignored, balanced on the precipice of Gathercole’s roseate lower lip as he concentrated on his work. A beautiful man in normal circumstances, with posture and bearing, with fine blonde hair like spun gold, his perfection was marred by a frown of ferocious concentration, and strands of his hair hung in his face. Normally so cleanly and immaculately dressed; here he wore a workman’s denim coveralls and rough shirt. Before him, on the scarred surface of a veteran work table, were the eviscerated entrails of several radios, indiscernible from one another and intermingled. Gathercole’s soft hands moved from his brand new Ersa soldering iron to the horn-handled screwdriver and back again as he reduced the radios to their elements and remade them again, over and over, mechanical and repetitious, each time with a barely perceptible adjustment to one small part or another.

And now stripping out every unnecessary element.

A cigarette, mostly ash, hung from Gathercole’s mouth. He was sat at his work table, engrossed in his task. Several radios were scattered across the table in pieces. He worked at them with his tools, taking them apart and putting them back together. Each time he did so there was some minor difference, some change. He did it again and again, and again.

I would say that my original version is also a hybrid. The Attic style just simply doesn’t appeal to me, though its blunt directness might perhaps be a way of creating a sense of pace and rapidity or representing a different type of character. At the same time going ‘full Asiatic’ makes me feel uncomfortably pretentious and inefficient, even though it can convey more nuance, information and characterisation.

I’m fairly happy with my style as is.

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief. Your noble son is mad…”

Polonius, Hamlet.

Which is a long-winded way of saying: Be as brief as you can.

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