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

94. Hydrophobic

We run into the old bus shelter, giggling like schoolgirls who have just seen someone they fancy. Within a few seconds, we are mere inches away from a curtain of rain. Not the famous grey British drizzle that makes pavements slippy, but a stop/start torrent where gardens get battered with a side order of flash flooding.

The man who was earlier repeatedly throwing a ball to a soaking wet joyous dog, runs by, led by his bounding Labrador. They are followed by a drenched youth, dressed in a thin t-shirt and jeans. He’s walking quickly, head down, shoulders hunched, hands thrust deep inside his pockets, but he’s too far gone to consider trying to save face by seeking shelter. Fate accepted. This is a moment to remember, like when I got dropped off at the supermarket, still wearing my slippers.

We’ve all been there. Stripping off in the kitchen, today’s clothes thrown into the washing machine, running upstairs in wet underwear, stepping straight into a hot shower. Bragging rights come later. Newspapers stuffed inside shoes for a day or so, with no guarantee that they would survive.

We were reliably informed by the lady in the chippy, that the local premier-league football team who we saw training on the beach, had left this very chip shop just minutes before we went in. She didn’t ask for any selfies. Their anonymous steamy minibus is parked near to our bench. I suppose this weather gives them a rare moment of normality, away from the spotlight.

“I really do need to re-wax this jacket. It’s no good to no-one in this state. I might send it off, and get this hole fixed as well.” I say, waggling my index finger through the pocket at him.

“Or you could just get a proper jacket.” He replies. “Don’t you get hot in that? It’s really heavy. You’re dressed like Scott of the Antarctic and I’m, I dunno, Bear Grylls.”

“Would you drink your own pee though?”

“If it was filtered I would. Why not? If it was that or die.” He admits, unashamedly.

He unwraps the steaming damp paper parcel, to reveal “one fish, half chips and scraps please.” I take off my sodden coat, and drape it onto the wooden bench next to me. I run my finger over the ‘DS x GT 4 eva’ engraving and wonder if they still are.

We take turns to jab our tiny wooden forks into award-winning chips, then pant like we’re in labour, to try to cool our mouths. Fortunately, nostalgia also bought me a small bottle of bubblegum-flavoured pop.

“Look, see how the water forms little balls and runs right off? The seams are taped. No leaks.” He says, demonstrating the technical properties of his Italian-designed jacket, a favourite brand of football terraces. It really is water off a duck’s back.

I’m the opposite. I’m hydrophilic. I live to soak in the bath, revitalised by twice-daily showers. I’m the “aahh” after a drink, who deliberately splashes in puddles, washes up dishes, is queen water bomber and dominatrix of nerf gun fights. I swim every week and dream of dissolving my worries in a good sauna. That first cold shower is incredible.

We holiday in the UK, out of season, enjoying a run out in the car to the seaside on glorious autumn days. I call it ‘VIP’ because sometimes we are lucky and get the beach to ourselves. Returning to our holiday cottage with a pocketful of pebbles or shells, a handmade bowl or seaglass pendant and a selection of cards from a craft shop (to support local artists). Future memories for other people’s birthdays.

It’s the little things, like sharing a cone of chips on the wooden boardwalk on Lake Windermere, Cumbria. He stood, deliberately blocking the low winter sun from my eyes, one hand shielding me with his open coat from the icy wind.

That time I spilt hot vinegar on my only pair of jeans in Padstow, Cornwall. I love tangy, soggy chips from the bottom of the polystyrene tray, but I’m so clumsy. Someone should really invent a powdered version of salt and vinegar. Like a wet finger final dab at the end of a packet of crisps, but sold in a little tub in the herbs and spices aisle. I would keep it in my bag, like some people do with little bottles of Tabasco, to sprinkle whenever needed. Redistribution of flavour, then the first few chips wouldn’t have to be so salty, and the last few, so dangerous.

A toddler squatting to investigate every piece of driftwood and seaweed, apparently equally repelled yet delighted by the gentle waves that chase, cover then retreat from her yellow wellingtons.

We once stood up, mid meal, to let a small child continue their busy, important business of trying to walk unimpeded, the whole length of a low brick wall in Cromer, Norfolk, whilst we simultaneously shoed away aggressive seagulls, who were not used to tourists finishing their chips.

There’s a time and place for peeling chili prawns bigger than my thumb, sucking their heads, then dabbling my fingers in the water bowl. Lemon halves wrapped in muslin, white napkins, matchstick frites and elegant sips of chilled Pouilly-Fume. As there are for Jenga-stacked, thrice-fried chips, minted peas, local IPA beer battered cod, and their faux-hipster, gastro-equivalents (the basket/bucket slate-not-plate arrangement) of proudly sustainable pollock, gurnard or lemon sole goujons. Sometimes, they just cannot compete with the traditional northern chippy cafe’s plastic checked tablecloth, white buttered bread cakes, scraps, mushy peas or curry sauce. Oval plates, with crunchy haddock hanging over the edges. Utilitarian turquoise tea cups and saucers reminiscent of school crockery, non-brewed condiment, shaken granular (not flaked) salt and generic ketchup from a huge plastic tomato.

Fish and chips are on almost every restaurant menu in England, but no two meals are ever the same.