Maybe it's because winter is here... Maybe it's because we're here at the end of the first decade of the new millennium... Maybe it's because we have a new government in power... Maybe it's because I'm getting on a bit...
...but just lately I've been thinking about a lot of things; things that have happened, things that are happening and things that may yet happen.
I've been thinking about the journey I've been on, both as an artist and a person. I've been thinking about thisisUll.com and its continuing evolution. I've been thinking about art and culture in general, particularly its current circumstance.
So I thought, fuck it, why not write about it... because if there's one thing that has made itself clear in the past few years, it's the fact that the one defining aspect of my nature and existence is that I write about stuff.
Maybe, you, the reader, will get something of this exercise. A bit of insight maybe, or at the very least something to pass the time while you do whatever it is you do.
So here goes...
For art's sake...
Unless you're some kind of super-strength lager addled moron whose only window out onto the world is Jeremy Kyle and the X-Factor, it's been pretty hard to avoid the all the news about the oncoming cuts that hang over nearly sector like a giant meat-cleaver.
Just like everything else, the arts industry looks set to receive some pretty big cutbacks over the next couple of years.
This, of course, was inevitable, but some people within the industry are acting as though this is the onset of creative apocalypse.
Now the arts is so sensitive that it even shrugs away from the moniker of being an 'industry', instead preferring to be referred to as just 'the arts'. But it is an industry nonetheless, and one that has historically struggled to generate financial profit.
However, as much as I realise 'the arts' obviously aren't as essential as some of the industries and sectors that support our day-to-day life, I still think that creativity is an essential part of life, especially here in Britain. Our music, film, literature and art are the best in the world in my humble opinion, and they are some of the things that make us, as a nation, Great.
As someone who has spent the last couple of years working within 'the arts', I've seen first-hand some of the panic that is sweeping the country. Yes, times are going to be tough. Yes, a few institutions and jobs will inevitably cease to exist after the cull.
And yes, getting funding for projects will become all the more difficult, but the good thing about 'the arts' is that as a reflection of contemporary life, it will evolve and adjust to suit the times.
I think that a lot of genuinely essential avenues into 'the arts' for people who don't necessarily have the right background will be shut-down. One thing that I have learned is that there are a lot of people from 'privileged' backgrounds working in 'the arts'. I'm not saying this in an effort to stir up the whole class debate (that's another drunken rant entirely) I'm just saying it as a statement of fact from my own personal observations and experiences.
And it is frustrating that things like education and community projects will suffer, but I have to believe that in times of uncertainty - economic, social and political - people who want to express themselves creatively will find a way. I have to, because if I don't, I'll descend into a gin-soaked oblivion and spend the rest of my days shouting abuse at passers-by whilst masturbating furiously into a Netto's carrier.
I'm not going to use the example of the early eighties, because it's a lazy comparison and we're living in a different era, but I think we will see resurgence in DIY underground alternative culture.
And thanks to the internet, there is a relatively cheap and utilitarian platform available to distribute and promote work.
Not everybody can afford an iPhone, but thanks to falling technology costs, all but the poorest of households have access to a computer and the internet. And then there are things like internet cafes and such to offer access to people who are less fortunate. All of my initial writing was done on an old PC that I was given by someone who was going to throw it out, and I sent my stuff using a 56k modem.
The fact that you're reading this on a Hull based alternative culture website is testament to what can be achieved. The only limit is ambition and time. Go forth and thrash, please.
Speaking of which...
In the beginning, when life was simple...
When thisisUll.com was founded around Cilla's kitchen table in 2003, the internet was in its Wild West phase. Youtube was still a couple of years away, and social networking sites such as Myspace and Facebook didn't exist yet. For many people, including myself, Internet access was still a novelty rather than a way of life.
I had just become a father at that point, already well on my way to becoming a single one. I had been writing fairly steadily for a couple of years, but my attempts to turn it into something other than something I did for the sake of it had so far come to... not a lot.
I had flopped out of my journalism degree, and my experiences with an all-male writing group had left me feeling a bit jaded. I just didn't fit in, and like many people who want to write, I hadn't 'found my voice yet'.
I found thisisUll.com by accident. I was looking on the net for writing opportunities in Hull, and there weren't many, but then I found thisisull and had a look around the site, and even though it was just starting out, it already had an impressive range of writing. Covering everything from poetry to fiction to local interest articles, I decided to send something in that I had been working on.
A couple of weeks later, I got response. They liked it and they were going to publish it. It was my 'lit match in a pool of petrol' moment. I don't think I've ever matched that buzz. It was the early hours of the morning and I'd just got in from a ten-hour shift, and I went absolutely mental.
This was it, I thought, and in many ways it was. That bit of faith enabled me to truly explore my writing, both in form and content.
I made a couple of missteps, but I had the freedom to. There was no pressure to be anything other than myself, and over the past five, nearly six, years I've managed to carve out my own little place.
The old man stood by the fruit racks in the super store contemplating at what to buy today, 'just for a change'. As his eyes took in the plethora of fruit before him, his gaze fell upon an absolute mountain of yellow and green Bananas. His thoughts flew back over the years, when such a sight would have been absolutely unimaginable ...
Articles - Is This An Article Or A Letter, Or What? By Merle R. Stone.
It is with tremendous trepidation and maybe a tiny bit of panic that I begin this writing. You see, I once wrote with exceptional ease, and had no trouble at all putting my thoughts into print. As of late, though, it would seem that that particular talent has abandoned me. Has this ever happened to any of you (I presume, of course, that somebody is actually reading this)?
Not that I feel that I ever had any real talent for writing.
Articles - Philip Wincolmlee-Barnes By C.B. Tempest.
There are times when a friend's death can be such a surprise, as to justify it being shocking. With Phil Barnes, otherwise known as 'Acker' was just such a moment.
Though never the centre of the action but passing his fine arts degree all too easily, he always lay to the side, carefully rolling his 'baccy' to smoke, dressed in his 'ironic' suit and tie: he never
held down any obvious 'career' jobs, like being a lawyer or banker; rather he was an outsider,
Articles - Memories of Hull Part 4 By Terry Hood
Whilst living in Hull I worked for other companies. They were C.D.Holmes, Blackburn Aircraft and Ideal Standard which is in National Avenue.
We purchased our first house in National Avenue and we found out that when the washing was put out on the line, when it was brought in the items had smut marks on them and had to be washed again. This was due to the smoke from Ideal Standard's chimney.
Articles - All About Sex, the Government Minister, the Dead Boy in the Orphanage and the Cover Up By Tim Roux.
When I am not focusing on Hull (and I have recently completed another 'Hull' book, called Missio, about a boy whose father went down with the trawler The Gaul in 1974) I do sometimes engage with the wider world although, to be honest, it isn't up to much.
However, there is one excellent site I contribute to called Speak Without Interruption Read more...
Articles - Memories of Hull Part 3 By Terry Hood
On 26th January 1955 the nation was stunned by the news of the loss of the Lorella and Roderigo with all 40 crewmen during severe weather off Iceland. This was due to black ice forming on the trawlers. As quick as the crew were chipping it off, it was forming again.
My cousin was on another trawler standing by listening to the radio operators on each trawler talking to each other and then he heard one of them say, 'Give our love to our wives,
Articles - (Belated) End of 2009 By Cilla (Editor).
It's late. This was supposed to be an end of year piece and I guess it's typical of my life recently - there's just never enough time to do everything I want to do - time just passes too quickly.
So, it's 2010. Another year bites the dust. The first decade of the 21st century is over with - gone in a flash and here we all are, shivering with cold and sliding off pavements, sitting in queues of smoke billowing traffic.
When I was growing up, I took it for granted
Articles - Christmas With The Big D By Andrea Longstaff
Well, it's that time of the year again; a time of incongruity that spills over into the blurry edges of surrealism. At no other time but December will you see elves strolling down the street. I fondly recall one past Yuletide playing a game of pool with an elf.
Throughout the rest of the year we tell our children not to talk to strangers, then come December and they're all scared witless
Articles - The Political Show Trial the BBC Just Couldn't Resist By Steve Regan, the King of Hull
Shame on the BBC for giving a platform to people prepared to deny the dignity and worth of fellow human beings.
Yes, the bullying approach adopted by the Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Tory Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Liberal-Democrat MP Chris Huhne and the American writer Bonnie Greer on last night's Question Time was an affront to decency.
And the BBC top brass should not have allowed the show's usual format to be hijacked and used as a nasty and counter-productive show trial of BNP chairman Nick Griffin.
Articles - Memories of Hull Part 2 By Terry Hood
After being away from Hull for 40 years it was great to see my home town again and its friendly people. Some places I can remember and have now probably gone are Gainsborough fish and chip restaurant, the Cecil cinema where I went with my wife and my mum to see Emil Ford and the Checkmates, the Tower and Regent cinemas.
There was Sydney Scarborough's record shop were the trawler men used to go for the latest records when they came home from sea.
Articles - Memories of Hull By Terry Hood
I served my apprenticeship as a ships rigger with Lord Line in 1954. Tom Boyd was an absolute gentleman and the best boss I ever worked for.
I now live in Cheltenham but I visited Hull in April of this year and saw the true reality of St. Andrews Dock, Lord Line and surrounding area. It brought back such a lot of happy memories and sadness to see it as it is today.
Whilst I was in Hull I visited the museum
Articles - Don Wilson 1916 - 2009.
One of Nidderdale's most fascinating characters has died suddenly aged 93.
Donald Wilson moved from Edinburgh to Dacre Banks in February 1950, having been stationed at RAF Linton on Ouse during the war. Don was shot down over Germany early in the conflict and was eventually imprisoned in the infamous Stalag Luft III, setting for the film The Great Escape. He provided invaluable information and advice for the makers of the film, having kept a detailed wartime log during his incarceration.
Articles - Writing about a Hull singer-songwriter using the music of Joe Solo By Tim Roux.
I have just had a fantastic experience - writing a novel,(Just like) El Cid's Bloomers' about a fictional
Hull singer/songwriter around the songs of a real one, Joe Solo.
And it could be a global first - the first musical novel to be designed specifically for an e-book format.
It doesn't really matter whether it is or isn't, but it is always fun to be the first to do something.
For Joe, there were some serious potential downsides to the project.
Articles - Birth and Death in Ten Minutes: A Miracle in Room 11 By Ruth
'Doctor, they have an emergency in Room 11.'
'Ok, I'm coming.'
I put the phone down and exited the oppressive call room, where as the scheduled 'doc-in-the-box' on duty, I was busy frittering away 24 hours of my life.
My 11-year-old-son had state exams the next day, and I hoped my 17-year-old daughter would make sure he studied. I knew they would probably watch TV and eat microwave food on the sofa instead.
Articles - The Cosmic Mayfly By David Sloan
From deep under the oceans, far from any sunlight, to high up in spewing volcanoes, life forms have been found on our planet. Even deep in the arctic ice, life forms have been found to exist.
For life is tenacious, if it can exist it will exist, this is the way of nature. Soon, yes very soon, I'm sure we will find life forms on other planets in our solar system. Indeed I'd be very surprised if the whole universe were not teaming with some form of primeval life or another.
Articles - You Scare Me By Alex
'You scare me'
Having that said to you, just once, is one time too many. Why? Why was this person scared of me? Drunken rage? Membership in the BNP? A predilection for bumming puppies? Nope, none of those (admittedly scary) things.
I had done nothing but acquire a label; 'Psychotic'.
So what do people understand by that? Usually it's some media inspired portrayal of a reality avoiding, maniac
with a large blade. The reality is both fairer and fouler than the common perception.
No, psychotics are not automatically or overwhelmingly prone to violence or abuse.
Articles - Channel 4 Students and Friday Night Stars By Phil Prethero
2007, The One Stop 24 Hour Shop, High Street, Lincoln
It's Saturday, it's 7 in the morning, and I'm at work, hung over, stood here like a trampled on torn up tampon - of use to absolutely nobody.
Why the fuck I agreed to these shifts is beyond me, normal people at the age of 21 and in their last year of uni are in bed at this time, they'll get up at about 11,
Articles - Can You Help? Hull Clubs in the Sixties Keith Fairhurst
I wonder if you can help me. I am searching for the name of a 1965 Hull beat club.
The club was at the end of a passageway between two buildings off a one-way street in the centre of the city. It had a small opening/courtyard in front of the main entrance. The passageway was on the right hand side as you travelled down the street.
I believe it was called The Black Cat Club or Kontiki ClubRead more...
Articles - The Interview: The Four Ps - Plan, Prepare, Participate and Be Positive.By Mike Kemp, CV Satisfaction
As individuals who are looking to find employment the interview proves to be the
most daunting task.
But this doesn't have to be the case using the four P's system:
Plan, Prepare, Participate and Be Positive.
This is a system that was devised by CV Satisfaction which covers all areas
of the interview from the beginning to the end. Let's look at each one individually.
Articles - Apple iPod Touch; The iPhone Without the Phone Reviewed by Mo
Ok so first of all I'm over 50, with a pretty crap social life and like most of my generation, mobile phones reside in a blind spot of my brain. The fiddly keys, address books and ridiculous lose-ablity of the device help to keep it there.
Last time I called my (£15 pay as you go from Woolies) mobile in an attempt to find it, it was answered by a lovely police officer lady at the Reading Station's lost and found.
Articles - Jody McKenna and The Secret Millionaire (show to be aired Sunday 26th April 09 Channel 4) By Michelle Dee
Champagne Lifestyle on a Lemonade Budget was the title of singer/songwriters
and Dave Saxby latterly of The Peasants debut album
Jody could be forgiven for thinking those dreams of grandeur and prosperity had
finally been realised when Channel 4's Secret Millionaire presented him with
a cheque for twenty grand.
Articles - I Got Married By Ruth
I got married (my one and only time) in 1981. It was November and I was a college student in West Texas. My husband to be was five years older than I. He was very rugged/handsome, and a former football player in a land where football is king.
In fairness, this tale should be told with a Greek Chorus (you know, those people with white robes that say stuff like, 'Don't eat that, it's poison!' or
Articles - National Recognition for thisisUll.com - Fringe Report Awards 2009 By Cilla Photographs by Carl Schofield and Mo.
Monday 9th February 2009 was a landmark date for thisisUll.com and all
its contributors. On your behalf, I had the honour of accepting the
Fringe Report 2009 award for Best Publication.
Fringe Report, under the guidance and leadership of its editor
John Park is based in London. It reviews and supports fringe theatre,
arts, independent and arthouse film, dance, performance,
Articles - What The Doctor Did Next By James Marsters
So, we all know by now that The Eleventh Doctor will be played by none other than
household name Matt Smith. Okay, okay, so maybe he's not a household name now but
what will the future hold for the 26-year old once he has hung up his sonic
screwdriver and given back the keys to the TARDIS? Judging by the other ten
actors to have played the Time Lord, it's anyone's guess.