Trip Report

Great night at The English Trip event last Wednesday. It was a real pleasure to perform with Evie Salmon alongside English Heretic and Paul Robertson, John Doran and Arabrot. My thanks to those involved, to those who came along and also to all at the Unitarian Church, Cambridge for their hospitality. Scroll down for some images of the night, taken from the church balcony. My camera for some reason doesn't perform well in low, interior light so many thanks indeed to Hannah Gilbert for courageously enduring its operational awkwardness. That said, given the ghostly, hauntological nature of the pieces performed as well as the resonance of the venue, I think the inadvertent ectoplasmic nature of the shots actually works really well. 

As highlighted in previous posts, An English Trip was a Quietus-backed event that featured John Doran reading from his memoir Jolly Lad, backed by noise and dissonance from Arabrot. Doran is touring throughout the whole of May with the intention of scouring England during its election year. This state of the nation-type approach is intended as a version of J.B. Priestley's English Journey (1934) . This was one of the conceptual links with the piece Evie and I performed. We spoke about the psychic landscape of Bradford circa 2010 with particular reference to Stephen Griffiths. Priestley loomed large over this environment, via his film Lost City, but also his 1953 essay for the New Statesman & Nation, 'They Come From Inner Space'. This article pre-dated the extensive use of the term in the mid-1960s by the likes of Alexander Trocchi, J.B. Ballard and Micheal Moorcock. I thought it an appropriate way to link together the various strands of the text: the idea of Griffiths as some kind of emanation of the city; memories of the Fleapit shows staged in Bradford and reflections on the overlaps of film, place and the odd spaces between. Or, as I tried to put it more succinctly during the show, it was a case of thinking about the "blokes [who walk] round their rooms, alone, projecting": 
In 1953 J.B. Priestley set down his thoughts on modern science fiction. Preempting Ballard. Moorcock and the New Worlds crowd by the best part of a decade, he spoke not of “outer space”, but of “inner space”. Science fiction solipsism that that was marked by a willingness on the part of the authors to consider altered states, strange perceptions and the effects of the exterior world upon the interior. Priestley, Bradford’s favorite son, was well placed to make such a speculation. He would have known just how much the genes are woven out of a given locality. He would have known how much a town gives rise to the voice, the walk and the gesture; how small the distances are that we really travel in life. Making one’s mark is not so much an act of graffiti as a signature on a pre-drafted contract. The uncanny is only ever a means of making us feel more at home. 
It was interesting to see the extent to which each of the pieces reflected on aspects of the North. In addition to Doran's descriptions of growing up in Merseyside, English Heretic's brilliant 'Video Anxieties' looked at the Peak Distinct, Dovedale and The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue. Churches played key roles in each set which, on reflection, helped to reinforce the 'seance' atmosphere of the evening: readings in one sacred space helped to channel memories of past events in other sacred spaces. More specifically, the point of conceptual connection between 'Psycho / Geography' and 'Video Anxieties' was James Anderton, the figure who links Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Ripper and video horror. As English Heretic writes in 'Video Anxieties' in Sepul Culture: The Underworld Service Guide Book
2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the infamous Video Recordings Act. Instigated by Yorkshire Ripper suspect, DC James Anderton, it's ironic that Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue constitutes one of the few videos actually filmed in England. Anderton himself, of course, was Manchester's avenging right wing Christian crime fighter. Perhaps he thought the zombies constituted a threat to his home city. Anderton, like the Yorkshire Ripper claimed to hear the voice of God: reality was not his closest companion.
May 2015 is also the 5th anniversary of Griffiths' arrest. I think we were both trying to get at the accumulated syncronicities inscribed into these already entangled meetings of place, film and extreme experience.


Some suitably spectral and mysterious images from the English Trip event. Many thanks to Hannah Gilbert for taking charge of the camera.

The set up at the Unitarian Church
English Heretic introducing James Riley and Evie Salmon
Psycho / Geography underway
Starting to blur
The seance voice
JR and John Doran 


English Tripping

Poster for the Cambridge leg of the English Trip tour

Ahead of tomorrow night's event, here are some links of interest: 

As mentioned in previous posts, I'll be presenting 'Psycho / Geography', a spoken word set with Evie Salmon: 

Psycho / Geography is an experimental lecture for two voices. Using half-remembered anecdotes, strange visuals and the pages of true crime paperbacks James Riley and Evie Salmon will recount a bad trip to through Bradford and the psychic territory of Stephen Griffiths, the Crossbow Cannibal. Based on Riley’s eccentric journeys at the helm of a travelling microcinema, Psycho / Geography is one part travelogue and one part spurious celebration of cult film.