First up… thanks for thinking of me.
I/we are fine- we’re all being very careful, and strict about our movements and interactions. I flit between being frustrated and bored out of my wits, and sinking my teeth into various non-essential creative tasks. I’ve been editing some little films I’ve been working on, doing a bit of writing, painting and drawing, as well as tonnes of DIY as our house is a bit of a building site. My dad has closed his shop for the first time ever and looks more relaxed than I’ve ever seen him, and I’ve had some really funny chats with my granny who’s basically the jolliest little womble you can imagine. She’s become EXTRA jolly, I’m not sure if I should be worried about that or not. But if I can pick, I guess I’ll go for not worried. It’s easier. I never really watch or listen to or read the news, so I have no idea what’s going on out there- I hear It’s all fucked? I mean… its basically always all fucked so that’s fine?
I take tremendous joy from the elderly trans person who goes past my window on a red mobility scooter twice a day at about 30mph with a Buckingham palace size union jack flapping furiously behind, wearing a bikini and full head gas mask, blasting 90s pop and swerving violently in time with the music. I love 90s pop, It’s the music I grew up with. It’s nice to have that daily reminder of the joy that being your uncompromising self can bring, especially now I have the time and space to be more myself than I feel I have been for ages.
That is to do a thing because I want to, and for no other reason. Its joyful. My friend Tim died. There’s no funeral or anything (for a long time) so its just another person I haven’t seen for ages in practice, but he’s also dead. We were on kind of weird terms, and it makes me really sad that he was alone. When I think about that it makes me think about how jolly my granny is at the moment, who’s also alone. Is she having a great time just hardcore being herself? Or is she just making sure she’s on really good terms with everyone? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… these are weird weird times.
I’m no mystic meg but somehow, I think things are gonna turn out just fine…
I burned all my bridges until nothing else was left. I tinkered, failed, learned, failed more, experimented, bicycle academied, read books, chatted and did more learning. There’s really a lot of learning always I guess, that coupled with the lovely gaggle of eccentric people that make up the “scene”. It’s a really nice and for the most part its kind, generous, fun and accepting slice of culture. When I was at my personal peak cycling in like 2005/6 there was a cycling club I went to- that was really nice, but I didn’t feel culturally connected. I basically had one friend who introduced me to the club, then he mysteriously died and I stopped going. Don’t be friends with me, as an activity the survival rate is low.
I’m very lucky to live in such a nice part of the world. Not many people here do those things, so most of the cycling I do is alone always. I also have no sense of direction and I get distracted by things that look cool, like dogs get distracted by smells, so in short no. It’s not really affected me negatively at all. I guess it’s nice running into people you’ve met before, so from that point of view I’ve really enjoyed going to Grinduro a few times, as well as the brother thing and a few other bits n bobs… so if that’s what commercialisation means, making more time to ride bikes in the sunshine with your friends on nicely pre planned routes then I’m ok with it! I’m still borderline on whether or not gravel actually exists… I mean it’s just mountain biking for wooses like me no?
I’m in a bit of a stick because I’m working on building a new permanent workspace, financed by other photography and projection jobs, and all of those jobs as well as all of this years travel which was pretty important to my business has been cancelled. If I had the workshop was up and running I think it would be fine- I work by myself anyway, building such a small number of very bespoke bikes that it shouldn’t really change anything.
Lol nah- I honestly haven’t spent loads of time working on it either- I guess it was just to see how id get it out in a home situation rather that in a nice workshop… in short its waaaaaaaaay harder. Ive got loads of “stuck” posts out for customers in the workshop and its been fine which I guess is why its so funny being stuck at home with a stuck post…. Just FYI- the rules of the “hashtag (I have a Japanese keyboard and so theres no hashtag) swardinthestonechallenge are… both sward and stone must remain intact, the paint on the stone must also be unharmed. If you suggest a way I can get the sward out and I do that thing and become king Arther you win a prize… please don’t suggest kroil, heating, smashing it downwards with a large mallet, phosphoric acid, cooling, plusgas, a slide hammer or clamping the post in a vice and using the fame a s leverage. Those avenues have already been exhausted…. Except kroil which is just petrol and naptha, so in theory shouldn’t work and isn’t available in the uk.
I’m repainting my ESB singlespeed twenty niner in spray.bike (corrosion riding by the sea is real) getting it ready for some brakeless fixed beach smashing in Schwalbe big ones which are one of my fave ever tyres. I’m selling all my shit on ebay and working on a couple of little films I started last year. I’m clearing out all the stuff I’ve collected over the last 20 years so the new workshop isn’t full of junk. Its nice having loads of junk around you but I NEED to have space to think and work and at this point in life I can’t afford both.
Greece. Greek is my first language, but I’ve never been to the Greek mainland. I have a few friend there, its pretty inexpensive and stuff you can eat grows everywhere. It has relatively low population density and there are little towns and villages smattered around here and there nicely. The food is good, there’s lots of ancient history and incredible monolithic ruins of a collapsed empire, chilled friendly people, mountains, sea and nutters. It seems like a good platform for genuine adventure. We went to Crete a couple of years ago and got lost on a walk in the mountains, we saw vultures picking and what we decided were walkers carcasses, and after a few hours scrambling up and down through dry brush, and rocky olive groves we heard gunshots and music. A few hours later we were being force fed pilaf and incredible home-made wine by some locals who invited us in and wouldn’t let us leave without loading us up with olive oil and cherries marinated in brandy. It was a good time- I think Greece would be like that but you can drive there. I hate flying.
Its early so none yet! Morning routine is a 4 person chemex of curve (the local amazing roasters) coffee to myself. Partly because I enjoy the theatre of it. I feel like Bill Murrey talking to RZA and GZA from wu-tang clan in Jim Jarmish’s “coffee and cigarettes”. It’s nice drinking lots of consecutive small cups of coffee, but sometimes I go straight for the jug. As black as the sky on a moonless night. Just that in the morning and that’s it really, I like coffee a lot and I’ll never turn a coffee down if I’m offered one, but I’m also not that bothered about hot drinks in general. Coffee is a social thing for me, much more than alcohol. I guess It’s my Cypriot genes, I’m built for sitting around in cafes playing backgammon chatting about art and philosophy, although those guys also LOVE talking about politics which I can’t really get behind.
(questions are usually numbered not lettered? I’ts taken me until j to notice)
A bit- not as much as I’d like. I set myself kind of unrealistic goals each day and try not to stop working until I’ve achieved at least some of them also my fave bike “mike rotch” is down and most of the rest are in bits (classic) or need bits, or just some maintenance, so I’ve been riding my epileptic bicycle which has never been maintained or needed to be. It very much lends its self to long flat rides at a leisurely pace. So I’ve been popping out for an hour or so every two or three days and then on the weekends with my wife, but its been very chilled- it doesn’t feel like a real ride, we did like 25 miles one weekend that’s normalish. If I compare myself to john woodroof on komoot then no.
(oh jesus this is long for a text based interview. I have fat fingers and can’t spell)
We met up just before NAHBS last year when they were in London, and we just really got on like a house on fire. They’re just nice people and make the only thing that seems sensible for plugging a tubeless tyre. That’s downplaying it… they’re flipping amazing and have the best stories, also the meercat came from space so that’s cool. I started designing the meerkat hooptie with them using as many NorCal parts as possible as they’re based in chico, the same town as Paul component. I stumbled on the fact that Paul and in the UK Hope have both been going for the same number of years, both starting up in 1989. I visited both factories last year and they were both incredible but so so different, which is interesting because they both pretty much make the same parts but in such different ways. That got me thinking about the differences in approach on either side of the Atlantic, which seemed poignant as a UK builder building an American bike, and got me thinking what if I was building a UK version of this bike? what would that look like? So… I made two, now we have matching bikes. One day we will ride them together in matching leather jackets and oakleys like the dorks we are.
Long term? I doubt it?
A new found love of hyper ergonomic German chairs where previously our house was populated by small wooden benches I made. They’re very flat and hard I guess you don’t know discomfort until its gone…
Also I won’t exceed the annual mileage limit on my car insurance. That’s nice.
My life has never been normal so how can normality return? I feel like return to normality is a wrong attitude about the situation- things are just different now, like getting on a plain isn’t the same now as it was in the 80’s, and it won’t ever return to being that way.
How to sit in front of a computer for prolonged periods without going absolutely mental. I’ve never done that before; I still feel like a pig in a cage- but I’ve learned to accept that I’m just a fat pig in a cage and that’s ok. To quote the artist Oliver Griffin “I find my freedom where I make it” I don’t believe in freedom, we’re all on a leash and as much as we try and extend that leash, all we can hope for, is not finding the limit of that leash before we die. basically do things that I hate but must do and have put off for forever all day untill I’m about to crack like stressed Eric in the 90s cartoon “stressed Eric” then do something creative and or interesting. If it really grabs me and I’m loving it then I go with that and do good work. If not, then I just have a snack and carry on with the grind. Hopefuly all that boring work gets done by the end of quarantine and before the new workspace is erected. Lol.
Thanks for getting in touch! Best