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We Are Live! (17)

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Texting and talking have become a real problem but you have to understand that you can’t demand an audience’s attention, you have to command it.”

-Benedict Cumberbatch-

And he certainly did!

Let’s talk about the interesting phenomenon that is Benedict Cumberbatch! If you have not heard this name before, well, hi, welcome to the Cumberverse, you are very welcome to read this highly biased appreciation post based on facts, quotes and cheekbones.

No need to mention his films, it is hard to miss their release when the media is making sure you see enough ads to dream about them at night. Instead, let’s talk about the Benedict Cumberbatch we tend to forget.

Joanna Benecke wrote this short and entertaining illustrated biography called Being Benedict Cumberbatch. As a publishing student, I have to say that the layout of this book is amazing, and as a fan I fully recommend it as I learned a lot more than I thought I would.

So now, here are some underappreciated facts about our favourite British gentleman.

Unexpected skills

We all know he studied drama and that he is insanely well-spoken and polite, but did you know about his perfumer skills?

Benedict worked with a perfumer for six months and learned about blends and how to recognise the different notes and scents. Granted, it probably did not help his acting career but you have got to admire the skill.


I am sorry for your nightmares tonight.

Tibetan monks

During his gap year he taught English to Tibetan monks and lived with them for half a year. Benedict said that he “could actually stay with monks in their home, watch them at work and at prayer, and get the chance to teach them and interact with them.”

Born to play Doctor Strange! Also, can we appreciate the fact that he took a gap year to teach?

Waltzing with Death

This fact is a bit darker but I promise we will talk cheekbones afterwards.

When Benedict was in South Africa, he and two of his co-workers were carjacked and kidnapped while they were trying to change a flat tire.

With a gun on his head, Benedict managed to stay calm and “reason” with his kidnappers. They had been told a few days before how to behave during a carjacking, but what he did required a mind of steel and great courage. People underestimate how disabling panic can be.

It was not Benedict Cumberbatch’s first brush with death but it was certainly the most traumatic.
“It taught me that you come into this world as you leave it, on your own. It’s made me want to live a life slightly less ordinary.”

If you want more, definitely read Being Benedict Cumberbatch, it is light hearted, funny and full of the details you did not know you needed in your life. If you are still not convinced, remember that there are more than 85 full-colour photographs in there.

Happy cheekbones time!


Friday, 10 February 2017 16:34

100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling

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Looking for somebody to love this Valentine’s day? Well look no further than our 100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling book. Do you need any more reasons to love him? I think not. Here are a few facts from the book just to get your taste buds flowing.

1)     Being a Mouseketeer didn’t f**k him up

27)    He loves animals.

49)      He believes in marriage equality

55)    He was home-schooled

82)    He gives his dog a Mohawk for the summer

90)    He can play the ukulele 

The immaculate Ryan Gosling first graced our screens in the ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ back in 1993, and most recently has awed audiences in La La Land. The wonderful new film by acclaimed director Damien Chazelle has taken the box offices and the awards season by storm, with Ryan being one of the main talking points. Critics have praised his performance, his effortless singing and dancing, and his determination to learn the piano (there were no hand doubles used in any of his piano scenes).

La La Land follows a clichéd storyline, harking back to the nostalgic films of the past, such as Singin’ in the Rain. Easy to watch and easy to predict, yet the film does not fail to deliver. Following two young hopefuls in their quest to achieve their dreams, whilst simultaneously falling in love, this is a film that aesthetically thrills whilst also tugging at a few heart strings. Chazelle pays homage to the glory days of Hollywood, whittling the complexities of contemporary Hollywood films down to the basics, and rediscovering the joy in the enjoyable. 

Ryan Gosling plays the ever-gorgeous musician Seb, an uncompromising jazz artist, who dreams of opening his own Jazz club. After meeting and falling in love with aspiring actress Mia, played by Emma Stone, both embark on an all-singing, all-dancing journey to fulfil their, somewhat tenuous, dreams.

This film has been under scrutiny recently from critics and audiences alike. The hype surrounding the film has elevated it to almost unreachable heights, being nominated for a record-tying fourteen Oscars, including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress, and winning in every category it was nominated for at the recent Golden Globes, a record breaking seven wins. Audiences have questioned whether the film lives up to its reputation. The spectacular acting from both Stone and Gosling is undeniable, but it is worth questioning whether these roles should earn these two an Oscar nomination (especially considering the snub of Amy Adams for her role in both Arrival and Nocturnal Animals). Nevertheless, their chemistry is heart-warming, and I personally found it a wonderful experience to enjoy a film from start to finish, without once feeling squeamish or awkward. Chazelle delivers an odyssey of colour, with a scrupulously clever script that contains gems of wisdom such as ‘L.A. worships everything and values nothing.’

So if you need someone to love this Valentine’s day, pop along to see La La Land clutching a copy of our 100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling and gaze at the Number 101 reason to love him: ‘He definitely looks good whilst tap dancing.’
Monday, 16 January 2017 12:17

Blue Monday with New Order

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Blue Monday is upon us, and we all need a little something to perk us up and get us through what has been dubbed the most depressing day of the year.

Getting back into the swing of things at work, booking any holiday we can afford, and maybe dipping into the chocolate and breaking a New Year’s resolution or two. That’s usually what January comprises. I know I’ve booked a last minute holiday, and my leftover Christmas chocolate is definitely getting eaten on a daily basis.

My Blue Monday is going to consist of comforting food, an evening on the sofa, and a little bit of New Order. If that doesn’t sound like the most relaxing evening then I don’t know what would. Whilst New Order’s 1983 single ‘Blue Monday’ may reflect our sentiments for this dreaded day, I think we should try to make it as stress free as possible.

We can play our favourite album, dance or relax to our favourite songs, but maybe skip the ‘Blue Monday’ single because we don’t want to succumb to those blues. Or, if a quieter night seems to be what we’re in need of, then we can satisfy our love of the iconic ‘Blue Monday’ with a bit of reading instead. The Blue Monday Diaries by Michael Butterworth will provide the perfect dose of rock without needing to get up and dance away from the comfort of your sofa. 

An insight into the recording studio and the life of New Order offers the necessary escapism from Blue Monday. Written from notebooks jottings about the mundane and the illicit, Butterworth presents behind-the-scene details that have never been discussed before. If you want to dance away this Monday, go ahead. Why let anyone stop you? But, for me, putting my feet up with an absorbing read and a healthy dose of chocolate will be ideal.

Even though it’s supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, I think we should try to make it happier, more of a Yellow Monday. Something that speaks of sunshine and summer time, something we all need to help us forget about winter and the impending frost. And if you can’t make New Order’s US tour and Coachella appearance later this year, just remember that Gillian Gilbert’s birthday is on the 27th January so there’s an excuse to celebrate.

Whether you choose to dance and sing or sit and read, just be sure it’s New Order on your mind and not Blue Monday. I know which I’d rather be thinking about.

Blue Monday or ‘Blue Monday’? I’ll let you decide. 
Share your Blue Monday set-up with us over on Instagram and Twitter!

‘I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.’ – David Bowie

Ever true to his promise, David Bowie’s life was anything but dull…

Brilliantly creative and wonderfully weird, Bowie was not only a talented musician, but an artistic visionary. It is for this reason that he has maintained such a loyal fan base. There was something strangely other worldly, almost immortal about David Bowie, which is perhaps why his death just over a year ago today impacted fans, friends and family in such a major (pun intended?) way. Many have taken to social media to express their sadness over the loss of such an iconic figure, who dedicated his life to art.

David Bowie: Starman celebrates the life of David Bowie in all its glory and colour. The book serves as a kind of anthology or tribute, including illustrations of Bowie (for readers to colour in) alongside info on his life and works, as well as a selection of quotes from various musicians, actors and comedians. Rebellious in his weirdness, Bowie’s refusal to tick boxes and conform to society’s idea of normal helped to reassure a new generation of young people that it’s ok to be odd. Highlights include a section from a particularly touching speech by actor and fan, Tilda Swinton, given at the V&A, who recalls her feelings of affinity towards Bowie:

‘The image of that gingery, bony, pinky-whitey person on the cover with the liquid mercury collar bone was – for one particular young moonage daydreamer – the image of planetary kin, of a close imaginary cousin and companion of choice.’

Of course, Starman could not be a true celebration of Bowie without any words of wisdom from the man himself. The text includes quotes from interviews, in which David Bowie describes the creative and lyrical process behind his most successful albums, as well as the inspiration for his various onstage personas, including the formidable Ziggy Stardust. Starman highlights Bowie’s artistry through his talents as a musician and a performer as well as the inspiration behind his outlandish fashion sense, exploring what it was that made this super human-being quite so extraordinary. 

Below is just a small sample of the wonderful colourings fans have sent in!

Get it here

January is full of New Year’s resolutions aplenty, and getting healthy is one of the most popular choices.

As you look forward to a new you in 2017, we want you to step back in time and explore the recipes created by Vera Richter in the 1920s.

Vintage Vegan is guaranteed to give you some foodie inspiration that will take you out of your comfort zone. This raw vegan recipe book offers delicious and unique food and drink that is sure to kick-start your January. 

Whilst resolutions seems like a good idea when you make them, more often than not we all slip up soon enough. Instead of dreading your healthy eating, and daydreaming of chocolate at your desk, let Vintage Vegan
take you on a journey to discover the extensive options available to you whilst on a vegan diet. Those January blues will cause no more trouble once you start a fulfilling and satisfying vegan lifestyle.

Here’s how Vintage Vegan can help you to achieve your goal:

  • If it’s the 3pm sugar slump you struggle with then Vera’s coconut caramels or peanut butter confections will do the trick.
  • Liven up your salads with the sesame seed dressing or simplicity dressing.
  • Buying an unhealthy lunch will be a thing of the past with Vera’s tomato-cream soup or summer salad.
  • Keep up the Christmas spirit with vegan mince pies and Christmas spice cake.

By using Vera’s recipes inside Vintage Vegan, your energy levels will be boosted after the comfort food of Christmas. An extra boost will help to combat your January blues and make your Monday mornings something to look forward to.

The nutritional benefits are abundant in the most popular recipes from the first raw vegan restaurant. And we want to share that goodness with you to help ensure your January is the best it can be.

Beating the January blues has never been easy, but sticking to your New Year’s resolution has never been simpler. 

We made our own peanut butter confection which you can see here!

Let us know if you’ve tried any of the lovely recipes!

You can buy a copy of Vintage Vegan here.

It’s that time of year again when everyone begins their ‘new year, new me’ mantra in hopes of becoming the best version of themselves.

We’re here to tell you that you’re already the best you, and don’t let the popular New Year’s resolutions tell you otherwise.

Don’t worry about the amount of chocolate that you’ve eaten, don’t worry about the emails stacking up at the office, and don’t worry about the one too many cocktails you had on Boxing Day. There’s no need to feel down or worry about the inevitable.

Whilst others are making commitments to be a better person, Guy Egmont will reassure you that you and your manners are already impeccable. Instead of January being a time for change and renewal, Manly Manners for the Impeccable Gent is here to celebrate your timeless etiquette that requires no alterations.

Manly Manners is a satirical guide for the sophisticated gentleman, designed to debunk any myths about social etiquette. From dinner parties and business meetings to the English accent and facial hair, Guy Egmont’s advice will ensure that you continue to be the gentleman you already are.

Soon your friends will start complaining that they’ve been saying yes to more invitations than they can cope with. Just remember that you’re in the all clear because all those ‘white lies on the telephone’ were ‘as convincing as possible’, leaving more time for you to do the things you enjoy.

If you feel a little rusty and simply want to freshen up your manners for the New Year, some pieces of advice within this humorous guide include:

-          If you earn a reputation as a good mimic or an amusing gossip, you won’t go very far.

-          Never be sarcastic to anyone, whether in public or in private. It can be very wounding and will never be forgotten, particularly by newspapermen.

-          There is nothing that a rich man likes more than to be asked for advice.

-          Never punish your host’s brandy or whiskey unduly.

So, forget about those resolutions. A sophisticated gentleman like yourself doesn’t need to make promises in order to shine this January.

Instead, be unforgivingly you.

What better way is there to combat those January blues?

Let us know how you’re being unforgivingly you this January on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

It’s always exciting to see hard work come together when we receive the finished copies of our books. One of the most recent to touch down in the Plexus office is Vintage Vegan, by Vera Richter, a title that I’ve been working on since starting here as an intern in March.

On the surface, it’s a raw food recipe book, but its significance goes much deeper. Vintage Vegan is a collection of recipes from the world’s first raw vegan restaurant, opened in California in 1917. Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that the raw food movement is an emergence of recent years, but Richter takes us to the roots of this long-standing dietary choice, showing us her early interpretation of raw veganism. In Richter’s time, California was a hub for individuals following raw food diets and embracing what were considered ‘alternative’ lifestyles. Her restaurant, The Eutropheon, became a place for influential figures in the alternative lifestyle movement to meet and exchange ideas.

Richter’s recipes return to the essentials of raw foodism. Fewer ingredients were available when Richter was writing these recipes, almost a century ago, but she manages to produce tasty and filling recipes that have stood the test of time to be as satisfying today as when they were first conceived. Most of the ingredients required can be found in any supermarket, so not only are her recipes are easy to execute, they are also very economical. This was no doubt an important consideration for Richter, as her cafeteria-style restaurant served hundreds at a time.

Months of proofreading and editing Vintage Vegan left me eager to try out some of Richter’s recipes for myself. I have chosen one that particularly appealed to me, a peanut butter confection (to be found on page 88). This recipe demonstrates the wonderful simplicity of Richter’s approach, requiring only two ingredients – dates and peanut butter.

          15555628 10158054646190045 1589737323 n

I used the dates that were most readily available to me, Sayer dates, but I would recommended using a more meaty, juicy variety such as Medjool to make your treats feel even more indulgent. Peanut butter could be substituted for another nut butter, if desired.

The method was fairly simple, the dates had to be chopped in a food processor and then stirred into the peanut butter to combine, before rolling and shaping. Unfortunately I found myself lacking when rolling them into equal sized balls; although a straightforward task, my treats emerged rather non-uniform. I made a last-minute decision to coat them in ground almonds to add an extra dimension to the taste.


Although my substandard food prep skills leave these less aesthetically-pleasing than Richter no doubt intended, the finished result was delicious! 10 out of 10 for Vera Richter’s Peanut Butter Confection from the entire Plexus team, who sampled the fruits of my labour this morning.

15451300 10158054650805045 1904787736 n

Have you been trying out any recipes from the book? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Buy your copy of Vintage Vegan here.
Feel overwhelmed by the excess of eyeliner, eyeshadow, eyelash curler, mascara, eyebrow pencil, eye primer, face primer, face powder, concealer, foundation, blemish balm cream, rouge, blush, contour cream, contour powder, highlight, bronzer, lipstick, lip cream, lip gloss, lip liner, lip plumper, lip balm, lip primer, lip booster, lip stain, and nail polish, to name but a few, that submerge your eye line as soon as you enter the beauty aisle of your local supermarket? You wouldn’t be the first, and you can be sure you certainly aren’t the last. We women today are given an incredible range of products ranging from the almost necessary to the useful to the does anyone ever wear that but, coupled with a constant bombardment of seemingly perfect and effortless beauty queens, this excess of choice quickly takes all the pleasure out of making ourselves look beautiful. Well, if you’re looking to effortlessly improve on your look and tailor your collection to your specific needs, look no further than Laura Slater’s Hollywood Beauty.

Hollywood Beauty is the quintessential beauty and make-up Bible, filled with instructions to match and conquer your look and fill you with confidence, and complete with perfectly chosen stunning photographs of all your favourite beauty icons throughout the ages. Portraits of Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Sophia Loren and Blake Lively, among many others, grace the glossy pages of Slater’s book and provide a necessary diversity to the concepts of beauty and glamour, proving once and for all that you can be stunning with any look.

Slater walks us through painstakingly detailed illustrations of how each and every (relevant) body part of yours can be made up and fashioned to not only complement your complexion, but to bring it to even greater heights by pairing it with the likes of Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, or perhaps Dita Von Teese – the choice is yours, and plenty of choice is certainly one thing Hollywood Beauty provides! We are thus treated, for instance, to a table detailing the ideal eyebrow, mascara, eye shadow, and eyeliner work necessary for four different types of eyes on pages 52 and 53; Slater does not do things half-way and you are guaranteed to feel ever more satisfied as you turn the pages of this book. And on a side note, that satisfaction won’t simply be coming from the content as you get to treat you fingers to a gorgeously glossy, well-finished and beautifully coloured product which mirrors the beautiful looks portrayed within. So take the extra time to read through Laura Slater’s make-up Mecca before your next trip to buy some – and be sure you’re ready for the myriad of compliments you will soon be receiving!

Order this book on Amazon NOW!

Any bloggers/vloggers out there, we are currently offering review copies. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

This is the third instalment in our blog series on The Blue Monday Diaries: In the Studio With New Order. This book, written by Michael Butterworth, is a memoir of the time he spent with New Order in 1982, whilst the band was recording ‘Blue Monday’ and Power, Corruption and Lies. Butterworth kept a handwritten diary documenting this period, when he was both living with the band and going with them to Britannia Row studios during the recordings. This diary forms the centre of the book.

The blog posts that we are sharing are selected passages from The Blue Monday Diaries. These are simply highlights, which are explored in much greater detail in the book.

When I thought of writing about New Order at Britannia Row it was a simple question of okaying it with the band. I knew of their disdain for the usual, unsolicited approaches of journalists. This was my feeling also and from the start I made it clear that no tape recorder would be present. I would bring notepads and pens, and keep a daily minute-to-minute diary. To explain this, I phoned Rob, their manager.

We all met one windy day in spring or early summer 1982 over lunch at the Unicorn, a regular’s watering hole on Church Street in Manchester city centre, across the road from the busy fruit and vegetables barrows (which are now gone). Although I did not realise it at the time, and the subject never came up, the band were in the throes of writing ‘Blue Monday’. To allay crowd disappointment at their refusal to do encores, they were intending to produce a ‘machine’ track that could be left playing at the end of performances. But despite ‘Blue Monday’ being conceived in this functional way, once they started making the song, their perceptions of what it might be, changed.

‘New Order,’ my first notes begin:
. . . who have the reputation of treating the capricious media and its agents with impromptu and often violent absurdist displays, have kindly assembled to listen to my intentions regarding them.

‘I just want to do a book . . . but not with a tape recorder. An informal book.’

‘Yeah, okay. That’s okay,’ they smile.

Barney complains of a malingering stomach. An ulcer? It is my area, and I try to advise him what to do.

Gillian – the band’s newest recruit and Steve’s girlfriend – sits tastefully, cross-legged, biting at a Cornish pasty.

Hooky lounges in the comfiest corner, smiling, arm extending towards a glass of Pils.

Steve’s disembodied face grins satyr-like at me.

Is that it, then?

Not really. Rob puts me through a dozen questions disguised as casual conversation. Nothing direct. Smiling. Pushes up his glasses to confront me.

I cock up the replies. He is baffled. The band is baffled. I am baffled.

Hooky rises to get in the next round.

‘Is it alright, then?’ I ask.

‘It’s okay with me.’

‘Me too.’

‘Suppose so.’

‘Yeah, guess it’ll be alright.’

After lunch, Barney and I have a game of snooker in the ‘middle’ Yates’ on Oldham Street, which still has a sawdust floor. I get soundly beaten, and this clinches it.

The first diary entry: Friday 22nd October 1982:

As I cross the city, I sense London’s size and restlessness, its relentless presence. As I move through the city in all its ways and byways, for the first time in days I feel as though I am properly situated inside myself. I feel a sense of place, like a Londoner must. Even though I am a Mancunian through and through, having lived in London and visited and been through it so many times I feel like a true citizen, never a visitor.

Britannia Row is a long, narrow, entry-like street. As I walk down it away from the roar of the main road, struggling with my suitcase, I suddenly feel vulnerable. The Row is like a kind of borderland where an uneasy truce has been struck.

I am relieved to enter a cheerful common room full of light and sound. Steve greets me, still wearing the same grin as he had at the Unicorn pub, a half-guilty look as though he has been caught with his hands in the till. He is dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and trainers. His trademark smile has been joined by a look of genuine amiable mystification. As he talks, he absently waves a cigarette. They are having difficulty with their drum machine, he explains – part of a batch of new equipment. Its memory keeps fading. They are trying to fix it. Despite working ‘with Superglue and sweat’ for weeks beforehand, most of the equipment still has teething problems, he confides cheerfully.

‘The new rationalises the old,’ he adds philosophically, ‘replacing numerous little boxes with just a few bigger ones.’

He is playing with an ITT 2020 custom-built-for-Morris word processor. The 2020, an Apple 2E clone, programs the drum machine and converts programmed words into electronic speech. It can electronically generate a Japanese woman’s voice or permutate words vocally like a duck and can randomise words (chosen at will from memory) and dream its own dreams on the backing tracks.

The Emulator intrigues and I sense it will command a starring role at this gig – feed any tape into its memory and ‘play’ back the sound on a keyboard. For this reason it is far in advance of its predecessor, the Mellotron, which was less digitally versatile.

As I look over the ‘tinker-toys’, as he calls the equipment, Steve intimates to me with a self-satisfied smirk that Cozy Powell once found he could get a great drum sound in this very room. Whitesnake and offshoots and, of late, ‘a lot of heavy-metal bands’ have been recording here.

We are in the studio’s games room, which has been dubbed the ‘Hanging About Room’ (HA) by the band. As well as equipment, HA contains a dartboard, two or three video games, coffee facilities and a full-size mahogany snooker table with fantasy carved legs. The walls are raw brick. Tall, dark oatmeal-coloured Sonaplan baffles, used to achieve extra separation in the recording of sound, stand about like slim futuristic speaker cabinets, some vertical, others horizontal. Dave Pils, New Order’s black-mopped road manager, who has been with the band since early 1979, is quietly playing snooker by himself.

Barney, Hooky and Gillian, all wearing short sleeves in the heat of the studio, are in the Control Room, which is out of the door across the passageway. I wander inside to announce my arrival, and sit and listen with them. Elsewhere in the studio it is almost stiflingly warm, but in here the temperature is kept lower to protect the equipment and the air has a distinctive coolness about it, like being in dark shade on a hot day.

The tape has a dead-solid funky drumbeat, coiled by a tight-wire rhythm that goes gradually, relentlessly through permutations. Barney tells me in a casual monotone that it is the backing track for a song with the working title, ‘Blue Monday’. He is looking relaxed in jeans, loafers and a T-shirt. The casual, business-like manner with which he beat me at snooker in the Manchester Yates’s is to the fore. They are modulating the tone of the pre-recorded backing tracks and trying to rid the system of a treble buzz. He alters the modulation and occasionally plays overlays while Gillian intently feeds the tapes into the poly-sequencer – another piece of equipment that is causing problems. Set up in the rehearsal rooms in Salford, they had managed to get it to perform. Here in the studio, it is playing up. She wears a skirt and a light short-sleeved blouse. The quietest and most self-contained of the band, once she gets to know you she has a ready smile and laugh.

Hooky, the least conformist sartorially, is wearing a T-shirt and jeans, and sporting a pair of heavy-looking brown jackboots. He is sitting near the mixer watching their engineer for the session, Mike Johnson, the other person in the room, who is of a similar age in his mid-twenties, slim, with wavy-brown hair and dressed in jeans, T-shirt and trainers.

Mike has been at Britannia Row for four years, three-and-a-half of them as an engineer. He assisted on Closer, Joy Division’s second and final studio album. This session is his first album as a fully-fledged engineer. He maintains a quiet, calm awareness that he occasionally breaks with a wry smile.

I am happy not to interrupt what New Order are doing, content to just be in the flow with them, catching things occasionally until I can build up a picture of what is going on, but with Mike I sense it is okay to ask questions, a most generous guide.

Back in HA, I find Hooky, who got bored and left the Control Room before me, playing snooker by himself. He asks how book publishing works. We get to talk percentages. He tells me that Virgin paid 0.5 percent for their track on the Virgin Sampler, Live at the Electric Circus. Virgin did much better out of the deal, he thinks, lining up a shot to pot a red. I tell him I am not qualified to comment. The two worlds are quite different, I explain. There are usually fewer creators involved in writing a book, often just one. Everything is simpler. In music there are musicians, singers, producers, mixers – in addition to the cuts for retail and industry, which are common to both fields.

About 2:15pm, while we are all sitting in HA waiting for takeaways to arrive, Tony Wilson arrives in baggy pinstripe and orders a joint, which Steve immediately rolls. Tony nods acknowledgement to me, without a flicker of surprise. Whether he expects to see me here or not, I don’t know. We are more used to seeing each other in the bookshop on Peter Street where he often breezes in to show off our selection of bootlegs and underground records to whomever he has in tow, chatting affably to the shop staff by name. Today he is on the Granada Studios payroll, en route to New York.

Tony never stays anywhere for long and after fifteen minutes leaves for his plane – but not before forcefully arguing several points about the practice of innovative stateside record businesses, citing the entrepreneur Chris Blackwell of Island Records, who – in a novel manner – pays Atlantic to put out his records.

‘Fuck off, Wilson,’ Rob intones half-audibly from where he is seated on the floor, back to the wall. ‘I’m not paying a single dollar to cunts.’

‘Well, fuck off as well, Gretton,’ Tony rejoins from the doorway, almost nonplussed. ‘Anyway, I can’t hang around here all day.’

‘Has he fucked off yet?’ Rob asks more loudly while Tony is still in earshot.

The Blue Monday Diaries: In the Studio With New Order is available from Amazon both in Kindle and paperback format. Click here to find out more.

Next week’s extract explores the first time ‘Blue Monday’ was dropped at the Haçienda.
The first member of Joy Division to discover our bookshops was Stephen Morris, on days when he was wagging school. He found us (though not me personally yet) at House on the Borderland, Savoy’s first shop, opened in 1972. Named after William Hope Hodgson’s novel of fantastical horror, it was positioned in Port Street at the top of the ‘triangle’ in what is today’s Northern Quarter. Fittingly, its home was the run-down warren of backstreets near to Piccadilly train station.

David, who managed the shop in those days, remembers a ‘hesitant, nervous teenager about fifteen years of age, buddingly eccentric, with an inner intelligence and depth belied by outer appearances; he engendered a keen sense that he was looking for something else in life.’ After his school eventually expelled him for smoking dope, Stephen’s visits became more frequent. Nervy and wiry, he was occasionally accompanied by school friend Adam, who was quiet and reserved. But Adam could also be articulate and knowledgeable, so that in years to come David misremembered him for Ian, until we realised that Ian did not meet Stephen until three or four years later, even though they went to the same school.

‘You’re right. I hadn’t met Ian at that time,’ Stephen confirmed when I asked him for clarification. ‘Adam was a great fan of Moorcock, although he preferred Moorcock’s character Elric to his other character Jerry Cornelius, a constant source of disagreement between us at the time.’

Adam also gravitated towards more outré literary titles by William Burroughs and the weirder fringe magazines of the period – New Worlds, Heathcote Williams’ The Fanatic, and Crucified Toad – foreshadowing the later friendship between Stephen and Ian who took to each other instantly. Ian and Stephen were to meet for the first time after an Electric Circus gig, and again when Stephen responded to an ad for a drummer, put up by Ian in Jones’ Music Store, in Macclesfield, following which he joined Warsaw, the nascent incarnation of Joy Division.

Stephen and his friend Adam helped out with minding the shop and running errands. The tasks usually entailed getting in supplies of ‘hot jam squares’ and cups of tea from a nearby sandwich shop, but ‘less serious’ work could also be involved, purchasing cumbersome quantities of stock from local wholesalers such as Abel Heywood, World Distributors, or Thorpe & Porter, the latter presiding over a cadaverous mill on Pollard Street in nearby Ancoats. No one could drive a car, so extra hands were always needed to manhandle boxes and sacks back to the shop.

Ian found his way to us much later, at Bookchain, at the bottom of the ‘triangle’ of bookshops, where one of the ex-shop managers remembers him as always wearing a long mac, ‘de rigueur’ clothing of the time that Ian hung on to. He remembers one occasion particularly clearly. ‘It must have been 1979,’ he told me, ‘because I was playing Bowie’s Lodger on the shop’s hi-fi system. It had just come out, and Ian came over and asked me what it was.’ Apparently, I then I arrived at the shop, and Ian left with me. ‘You both went round to the Savoy office on Deansgate,’ the ex-manager recalled, ‘I think to discuss William Burroughs.’

Ian and I had only recently met one another. He had invited me to a Joy Division gig and I must now have been repaying him with a return invite. I have very little memory of the occasion, but he was curious to understand how book publishing works, so I let him look at the books we were working on. I had just got back from America, and showed him a signed copy of the 1978 Viking Press hardback edition of William Burroughs’ book collaboration with Brion Gysin, The Third Mind. In October, Ian himself had plans to meet Burroughs, at Joy Division’s Plan K gig in Belgium. The meeting was to have a weird outcome. When Ian introduced himself and tried requesting ‘a spare copy’ of The Third Mind. Burroughs allegedly told him to ‘get lost, kid’. Supposedly, Ian was most upset at this. My own feelings are that if Burroughs really said what he was supposed to have said, then it must have been intended playfully. Ian said later that Burroughs had simply said that he hadn’t got any copies left. 

The Blue Monday Diaries: In the Studio With New Order is available from Amazon both in Kindle and paperback format. Click here to find out more.

Next week’s extract includes Michael’s first 1982 diary entry.
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