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Lincoln Book Festival: Forthcoming events with Will Self and Kate Jackson (singer from The Long Blondes)

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 On Tuesday 12th October at The Collection, Lincoln I am honoured to be talking about my book 'Albion’s Secret History: Snapshots of England's Pop Rebels and Outsiders' with iconic frontwoman of cult Rough Trade band The Long Blondes- Kate Jackson.  Focusing on figures who served to define England’s unofficial cultural history, this book was written to penetrate the surface of England’s pop history, including the venues it was shaped in, alongside art, film, architecture and politics, and throw some new light on the ideas of Englishness it reveals. Rhian E. Jones described the book as 'the most illuminating odyssey through overlooked English culture since Michael Bracewell's 'England Is Mine''. The second part of this event will be with Louder Than War's John Robb, who coined the term 'Britpop' and who was the first to interview Nirvana.  In addition on 14th October I'll be in conversation with award-winning Booker shortlisted author, jou

A Pint With Morrissey at The Marble Arch Manchester

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The next day you get to tell her that you ‘have to go, or you’ll be late meeting Morrissey.’ Her expression, as she sits up in the bed, shows that she remembers you claiming this would happen but that she never really entertained that the time would actually come. You would burn with pride but it all feels too ridiculous and surreal.  You don’t know what to make of the wild-eyed way she looks at you and bites her lip. So you check your hair looks okay and you just gather your wallet and take your card from the light slot and leave. But as you make your way to the Marble Arch pub, wrapping your navy blue coat around you, the collar flapping in the wind, you wonder if this is really happening. Are you simply going to walk to the end of the street and then, at some flaring wound of a rain-flecked concrete junction, find there is no Morrissey? Certainly not here?  But instead you dart over a pelican crossing, and walk down a weed strewn expanse of the cities ripped backsides. And looking a

My Interview Series With English Pop Rebels and Outsiders for 'Albion's Secret History'

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As part of the release of Albion's Secret History: Snapshots of England's Pop Rebels and Outsiders' I was honoured to get to interview some of the visionary English artists I discuss in the book and I'm so glad to hear the series has just had its 20,000th view!  The chapter on Gary Numan is entitled ' Interzones, Edgelands, Psykick Dancehalls and Shamans: Gary Numan, Joy Division and Mark E. Smith '. In our discussion Gary and I discussed the putting together of the Numan persona, his unpublished fiction that informed it, and his experiences of fame. You can watch the interview here . Gary was an absolute gent and we talked about everything from synths to ghosts. I talk a lot in the book about The Long Blondes, and how they drew from the legacy of Pulp and Suede, in putting together their Modernist image. The chapter on them is entitled ' Pencil Skirts and Motorway Modernism: The Long Blondes and Black Box Recorder '. It was so much fun to chat to Kate J

Albion's Secret History: Snapshots of England's Pop Rebels and Outsiders is published today

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'With such an array of talent and with forays into film, literature and comedy, the running themes Mankowski draws from his varied subjects are as ambitious as they are thrilling...the way Mankowski uses them to ignite his thesis is intriguing and fresh. This book is about celebrating the unsung, and Mankowski has a knack for succinctly articulating what makes each one so special. The perfect banishing spell for the ghosts currently plaguing England.' Maria Schurr, Pop Matters ‘Polishing minute details and allowing them to shimmer from the page and re-colour our own faded memories – that’s what Mankowski does best. That he achieves the same effect with some of the people and events from history is an excellent achievement…It is, in fact, as if a musician is performing a medley of favourite tracks alongside some moments of deeply impassioned improvisation…Exceptional…some magnificent passages… There is something for everyone in this compilation…Albion’s Secret History  is one fo

How To Be A Long Blonde: Making Albion's Secret History

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After lots of waiting I'm excited that 'Albion's Secret History: Snapshots of England's Pop Rebels and Outsiders' will finally by published this Friday by Zer0 Books. To commemorate this I'll be doing a series of interviews with the innovators featured in this book- Kate Jackson and Dorian Cox from The Long Blondes, Gary Numan and Gazelle Twin. The first interview with Kate was published today and we talk about how her band and her solo works fits into a lineage that features Bowie, Suede, and Pulp. It's a chat that takes in the kind of English influences woven into my book from Barbara Windsor to Brutalism and the guitar playing of Bernard Butler-  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTCBMaFCDNU This interview series will be bookended by two polemical essays which enunciate the left-wing framing of Albion's Secret History as a critical but positive description of where England has been and where it going. The series kicked off with this piece, on 'Remem

The Psychogeography of “Dead Rock Stars”

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(NB- this one is for people who’ve already read it only- spoiler threat alert!) I’ve been very touched by the reviews and response so far to “Dead Rock Stars”. Given what a personal novel it was (I was brought up on the Isle of Wight and much of it centres around a young, lost, creative boy called Jeff who isn’t a million miles from me) I feared it wouldn’t find an audience or even have once, so when it went to #2 on some Amazon charts a week or so ago I was encouraged.  More than any other novel I’ve written it was written with real geographic locations in mind, many of them based around the places I lived as a young boy on the Isle of Wight.  But the opening scene is set, during the nineties heyday of Emma (heavily into her Kinderwhore phase at this point) at The Purple Turtle in Camden, a venue which I had great times playing at with my own band Alba Nova.  It’s a novel written over the course of one summer, a summer in which Jeff brings himself to read the diary that his sister, a

Have You Ever Experienced A Sense Of Artistic Failure? If So This Piece Might Be For You

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All too often as writers I think it’s very easy for us to get our ambition caught up with trying to making good art. A few years ago various novels on the go with which I had a lot of hopes and ambitions caught up with. But then a scene- in which a young boy remembers watching his sister perform with her band and how watching her changed him- pushed itself to the fore in my mind.   This one scene seemed to come from nowhere and almost write itself. When I shared it online there was a natural, organic reaction from strangers (very unusual, usually it’s like sending something out into a void!) and people said they really liked it and wanted more. While I ploughed on thanklessly with novels in which all these grand pseudo intellectual ideas were being played out through tortured plot lines I would sometimes, for my idea of fun, go back to that little story of his boy and his sister. What was curious was the extent to which (and I know this is common for writers ) my own experiences, strug