The Wicked And The Divine

Before I shut up shop for the day, a brief note to congratulate Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (along with their various collaborators and guests) on joining the thousand-page-graphic-novel club with the conclusion to their best-selling and ground-breaking series THE WICKED AND THE DIVINE. It has been a sheer pleasure to see them reaching higher and higher and gaining new territory each time. Well done, lads.


Working on THE BATMAN’S GRAVE today, and since I already had a long call with my long-suffering Netflix exec this morning, I should be able to stay on this script until midnight. Inbox 13, and hopefully that tide won’t rise too much higher while I find my focus. Listening to SOLILOQUY FOR LILITH by Nurse With Wound. It is a temperate 20 C on the Thames Delta, and I really need more coffee now.

Quotes: SPOOK STREET, Mick Herron

When the cat was away, Lamb had been known to remark, the mice started farting about with notions of democratic freedom. Then the cat returned in a tank.


‘You want to offer a little context?’ he asked.

‘Well, you and me, we’re issues. You’ve got your gambling addiction—’

‘It’s not an addiction—’

‘And me, apparently I’m “irritable”.’

‘You broke a dude’s nose, Shirl.’

‘He was asking for it.’

‘He was asking for a couple of quid.’

‘Same thing.’

‘For Children in Need.’

‘He was dressed as a fucking rabbit. I assumed he was dangerous.’


Lamb tortured his chair further by leaning back: if a living thing had made the resulting noise, you’d have called a vet. Or the police.

Travel Kit 2019

I am rebuilding my travel kit. I did a trial-run trip a few weeks back, and what I have learned is I have forgotten how to do this.

What still works, and it must be at least six years old at this point, is the Briggs & Riley Transcend 200 Series 19″ Carry-On International Upright. It fits every overhead bin, even the ones on America regional jets. Pretty sure they don’t make it any more. Hit eBay. There was a year when that bag was being loaded on to a plane anywhere between every six weeks and every three days, and it’s in good shape.

And the Sony NWZX1060B X Series 32GB mp3 player. Which they also don’t make any more! But it still works, after ten years or more! What I did discover is that 1) I hadn’t changed out the music on it in four years, blah 2) the cheaper Sony earbuds I got to replace my expensive but irreparably dead Sony earbuds get uncomfortable after an hour or two, So we’re testing a new pair, the 1MORE Quad E1010s. (UK) (US) Because I don’t want to fuck around with Bluetooth in an airplane. I want to stick some wired earbuds tightly into my ears, put on some music, read a book and go to sleep. And the mp3 player can play for something like 20 hours straight before it asks for power.

The one thing I did do right beforehand was buy a new powerbank, the Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger. (UK) (US).

My real and terrible indulgence is that I have two Kindle Paperwhites. One stays at home, and the other is either in my day bag or in my carry-on. This is what “read a book” on a plane means. The two devices sync. I have a library in my pocket. You don’t need the Kindle Oasis, it’s overkill. You just need a Paperwhite. (UK) (US)

I have a new travel laptop, a current Lenovo X1 Carbon (UK) (US). I used to use a Dell XPS 13, and still have it – its wifi reception is just too weak, and while the keyboard was serviceable (after applying a remapping application to it), it wasn’t a Lenovo keyboard.

I’m not going to blogchain this? But I will return to it, because I’m still assembling kit and trying to solve the fact that I have forgotten how to do this.

SING AS THE CROW FLIES, Laura Cannell & Polly Wright

This is absolutely exquisite.

SING AS THE CROW FLIES is the debut vocal album by composer/performers Laura Cannell and Polly Wright. Re-voicing the voices of the lost, forgotten and hidden people who have lived, worked and loved through the centuries, through the seasons, through the air and in the Marshlands. 

Sing as the Crow Flies is a set of nine vocal tracks re-voicing the rural landscape, surrounding reed beds and marshes on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Growing up either side of the River Yare, with a common love of the area, Laura Cannell & Polly Wright are musicians, composers and creators with deep roots in the marshes and traditions of this rural area…

Frustrated by the lack of women’s voices in the rural landscape writings of East Anglia and further afield the duo decided that if they can’t unearth the voices of the past they can take now as a starting point and add their own voices, the voices and experiences of living and working in rural surroundings in the 21st century, not always harking back but being present now. 

It is entirely improvised, and immediately put me in mind of both plainsong and the modern looped vocal cascades of Julianna Barwick. It is strikingly beautiful. And, as an Essex boy, it seems to me to fit precisely the atmosphere of the borderlands north of me.

My day has been relentless already. This slowed it right down, and made me sit in place and watch the clouds as they drift along the coast from here to there. I am so happy to have found this.


Two new newsletters to note, one live, one not:

Writer/artist Chip Zdarsky launched a weekly newsletter a few weeks back, and it’s really very good. Chip is extremely smart, but he’s also nuts, so, you know, take a look. Scroll down to the bottom for the subscription link, apparently, because i dunno life isn’t hard enough or something.

Writer/artist Jamie McKelvie just finished WICKED AND THE DIVINE, and is planning new things. He’s created a newsletter to talk about all that, but he hasn’t sent one yet, because he has a hangover because he’s waiting for the right moment to announce his new plans. Sign up now. You will get good art soon.

Haunted Blue Ant

A quarter of the way through Tom McCarthy’s fine new book SATIN ISLAND and I encounter what I can only describe as a Hubertus Bigend figure: one of those cultural-commercial spooks who darkly alchemise outbreaks of the future into product and wealth.  McCarthy’s Peyman isn’t as comically shadowy as Bigend, but, in his constantly moving post-geographic manifestations, just as elusive.  The sinister appeal of these characters is in part that they’re the Jason Bournes of cultural workers, teleporting through airports, known by the trail of their murky haloes of incoming data, materialising in rooms and halls to disrupt the flesh of the now with hails of information and beaming out again in pursuit of the next opportunity and the spoor of the new.

As someone who wrote a 1300-page fantasia of journalism, I recognise cultural fantasias when I see them. It’s a seductive confection that should be resisted.  But I booked flights to Europe anyway.

(written 16 September 2015, recovered from