MEGA-Zines

It’s amazing what you can make from a sheet of paper, a pen and a pair of scissors. Throw in some old magazines, washi tape and some glue, and you have yourself a party.

Zines, pronounced ZEENS, but spelled zines as in magazine

Zines are home-made, DIY, self-published little booklets. They can be stapled or made from one sheet of paper, folded in such a way as to make six pages plus front and back covers. If you’re thrifty, you could make a 2 in 1 version by writing/printing on both sides of the paper, so you get to see one of the other zine depending on how you fold it.

They can be on any topic you like – art, politics, short stories, identity, what I did last summer, food, my so-called life, mental health, animals, the state of the nation – absolutely anything. They were pretty popular when I was a teenager back in the late 80s. I remember reading some feminist Riot Grrrl ones and a few band/gig review ones. Back then, there was no internet, so spreading the word to potential future members of your tribe was much more difficult than it is now.

I’m rubbish at drawing, which I why my zines are mostly made up of words cut from magazines. I’ve hit my stash of washi tape hard. I really enjoy the process of getting into the flow of creating. This is a slow craft. Old school analogue, even, yet so easily shared with others.

I’ve found this video on YouTube which shows how to make one. Honestly, they are so simple. No verbal instructions are necessary. Give it a go! Fun for all ages.

My newer zines are made from A3 paper. Once the zine is made, I shrink it on my home copier at 71% to make it A4-sized. Fortunately, I only have a black and white scanner/photocopier/printer combo, because a colour one could become quite and expensive habit! I must admit that I have made a few copies of each one, just in case I get invited to a zine fair at some point in the future (where I could sell or trade them) way off when we all start doing social things again.

This is one I made earlier, in its glorious natural state.

Regular readers may remember that I recently made a multi-page short story/poetry zine with a printed cover for a socially-distanced library event. I may make some more. They’re a whole lot easier and more fun to make than e-books. If/when I do any performance poetry/spoken work with an IRL audience (again at some hopeful time in the future, when life feels safer again) I will create a little zine to read my poem from while I’m onstage.

I hope you enjoyed a little peek into my world of what I’ve been up to lately!

Extra points for anyone who knows which magazines I’ve hacked up to obtain the cut-out words!

In the spirit of the culture of zines, below are a few that I’ve shared with other organisations. They are in convenient video format on YouTube.


I sent a few of my zines to Leicester Zine Library and they were kind enough to create a lovely Instagram post about them

The Museum of Ordinary People

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but I’ve started deleting – without reading – the endless stream of emails about you-know-what. Unpresidented times indeed (not a typo). New York. My most frequent holiday destination. I will miss you.

My nephew simply posted the following word to his instagram.

INTERMISSION

Kids who thought the next six months were full of revising, exams, prom, the obligatory Leavers hoodie then travelling, and possibly University, are suddenly homeschooling themselves. Boomers, Gen X, Millennials; stand aside and make room for the Quarenteens, folks. And don’t even get me started on how long it took to convince the oldies in my life that they had to stay in, and they could not just “pop out” for a haircut or a newspaper for the next three months!

We’re all pretending we knew what furlough meant before a fortnight ago. We’ve stopped ironing our clothes. We eat more biscuits and some have taken up jogging. The local police use drones to monitor dog walkers who are driving to the countryside where they shouldn’t be. Our beloved pharmacy and toiletries store, Boots, had a virtual queue of 200,000 people last Sunday just waiting to be allowed onto the website. The postie now knocks on my door and leaves the parcel on the ground. I have The Guardian Live update on constant refresh and BBC1 at 5pm has become the place to be for the latest news from 10 Downing Street. I can see a school playing field from my house. The children may be gone, but a family of foxes and an eagle have taken up residence, along with a tiding of magpies, who enjoy jumping and hopping around chasing each other. I hope that grey squirrel made it.

I’m lucky. I was already working from home so have continued to do so in my slowed-down bubble of first world problems.  My worries and anxieties are trivial compared to most.

I’ve been keeping a daily journal for the Museum of Ordinary People (MOOP) of my thoughts, feelings, opinions, experiences and observations during the virus. Along with the other participants, these diaries may provide an insight into the personal, social and cultural impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. Who knows what will happen in the future? Life is very different now to what it was a month ago and will never be the same again.

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Keep safe, and stay at home.

Nicola x

July 2020 UPDATE.

Three months from a shiny new Leuchtturm 1917 notebook to a plague journal.

93. Woke

A rumour is like a tissue in a washing machine.

The description on the flyer included phrases like, “challenging preconceptions of intimacy… exploring the gaze of perpetual surveillance… sexual fluidity and modern companionship.”

How did twelve photos, taken on different nights, of my friend James and I asleep in his bed, end up in a major photography exhibition?

Simple, really. I spent a lot of time at Karen’s house and was often too wasted to go home. Someone else may have been kipping on the sofa, or I didn’t want to wake up wheezing with the cat sat on me. Karen’s bedroom was so small, her bed was pushed up against the wall. It required a limber bed mate, which I am most certainly not. When I get out of bed, I walk like I rode a horse the day before. Her housemate, James had a big bed and he never came home that first night I stayed over. I knew he would be ok with it. “Anytime. Mi casa es tu casa.”

Another night, he did come home, very late or early, depending on whose point of view you take. He was drunk enough to knock things over, but still funny enough to say “Who’s been sleeping in my bed?” Slurring, he instructed me to “Move over” then flopped down onto the bed, one arm in, one arm out of his coat. A few hours of snoring later, I took off his boots and left a pint glass of water on the bedside table.

We just carried on. It was easy and  felt comfortable. Neither of us was going out with anyone, so there were no jealous lovers to worry about. We didn’t fancy each other and were mature enough to not ruin our friendship by doing something regrettable.

The contented bliss of platonic sleeping in our clothes, drunk or stoned. Cosy, trusting, familial. Synchronised breathing. I was usually the little spoon. When he snored, I’d whisper for him to “turn over”, then place my hand on his back and his breathing would quieten. He was too polite to tell me if I ever snored.

Over home-made lasagne, garlic bread pizza, untouched salad and two bottles of montepulciano d’abruzzo, Karen admitted that she’d taken photographs of us two sleeping over the last six months. They were beautiful. So pure. I cried. It never occurred to James or me that taking our pictures whilst we slept was an invasion of our privacy, so we happily signed the consent forms she provided.

We weren’t expecting so many people to be as insistent as they were in telling us their opinion about our non-sexual relationship. Our friendship was scrutinised. We were asked how long we’d been a couple. Baffled, we said we weren’t, so it was assumed we were friends with benefits or one of us was gay or asexual. He lies in bed took on different meanings. My nonchalant, blasé denial obviously meant I was clearly trying to hide something. People hinted that I had friend-zoned James and must have been leading him on all this time. They felt sorry for him as he must have been so frustrated. Others insinuated that he was a potential predator, concluding that I had been both stupid and very lucky. How could we not know we were being photographed until afterwards? That the photos were clearly staged because men and women could obviously never be friends. Did we not realise it was bad luck for our souls to take book of the dead photos? These innocent snapshot observations became everyone’s business.

I stopped sleeping over after the exhibition. That phase had passed. It no longer felt right. I didn’t like being propelled into the spotlight for the wrong reasons and people didn’t believe me when I said this was something natural. I was there. I should know. But, the truth became just one of many opinions.