9 reasons why vintage fairs give creatives hope…as well as slightly musty clothes.


Today I didn’t write because I went to a vintage fair.

You know the ones I mean? Where a lorry full of veteran garments and  lovable rogues turns up at your local city hall – determined to separate you from your hard-earned monies.

This one in particular was a ‘weigh & pay’ – basically you’re given a rather unglamorous cellophane bag and you fill it with clothes. A kilo costs £15.

There’s a good sales angle with this – you get to a kilo way faster than you’d suspect, and the prices only inflate from there.

A lot of the track-tops for sale took me back to my P.E days. If only I’d have been an entrepreneur at school – on my last day I could have tip-toed into the ‘lost property’ cupboard and pillaged their stocks.

Let them sit for another ten years or so I’d have a fortune on my hands!

Let’s face it, we’d all like to make our mark on the world by creating something truly original – but, it’s hard to do that.

I mean, everything has been done before hasn’t it?

But, as creators, vintage fairs should give us hope.

These clothes, which were new once – and which were also old and out of fashion once, have a new lease of life and a new market to be sold to.

Vintage fairs are busy, busy, busy and money certainly exchanges hands.

The organisers have found a new way to sell something old. And, as creatives, this is how we should look at things.

Reinvent, re-imagine, retell.

You remember that writer from years and years ago – Mark Twain? He said the following, and I think we all need to keep this in mind:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

Take the movie “28 Days Later”. We’d all seen zombies before that. Those shuffling, decaying old things moving towards their prey with all the panache of a salt-ridden slug!

But then “28 Days Later” came along and we were introduced to fast-moving, rage-fuelled zombies.

These were something else! You couldn’t outrun them and you could barely outfight them. They’d smash your windows with all the force of a hurricane and they were smart-enough to find you afterwards. A locked bedroom door gave you little safety.

Thus audiences were interested again in a genre which hadn’t seen much originality since the 1960s/1970s when George A. Romero launched his “of the dead’ series.

It’s the same with business too. Look at Facebook – it wasn’t the first social media, was it? I can sure as hell remember using Myspace and bebo (for my sins) before that. Even one called ‘Facebox’, anyone give that a whirl back in the day?

Yet Facebook stood tall over them all. It captured our imaginations at a time when our lives were first saturated with the power of social media, and kept us in its thrall long after the competition had fallen in cyberhell.

Sure, it may not be as popular as it was once – but how often do you go a day without hearing the word ‘Facebook’ or ‘Facey B’ – depending on your social cricle.

I can recall a time when I’d use ‘Altavista’ or ‘Ask Jeeves’ as my preferred search engine of choice.

Fast forward ten years and I’m writing this blog post on ‘Google Chrome’ – can you remember the last time you used another search engine?

I can’t.

These ideas weren’t original, but that didn’t mean that they lacked the imagination and the drive to get to the top of the table.

Reinvent, re-imagine, retell.

Unless you can get Beyonce to sing halfway through your story…

In yesterday’s post I touched on the subject of sport, and I kept on thinking about it afterwards.

If the statistics that a quick Google search have given me are to be believed…and, let’s face it, in this world of ‘alternative facts’ you never know…association football is the most popular sport in the world. With a whopping 3.5 billion fans spread across the globe!

I’m happy to admit that I’m in that number. 

One of the things that I’ve noticed about football, which sets it apart from many other sports, is that it’s a fast-paced, free-flowing game. Asides from a fifteen minute break between halves the action is nearly continuous – only ever broken up by the occasional free-kick, throw-in or injury.

That makes it fairly easy to watch and it means that, unless it’s an incredibly boring game, it’s harder for the average viewer to get distracted. I’ve tried to watch sports such as cricket or American football before and I’ve never found myself as involved. The pace of cricket can be slow and a match can often last a very, very long time – I’m stumped as to why anyone can actually like it! When it comes to American football, my lasting impression is that a game seems to have more stoppages than national rail!

I find that this is something that I can attribute to my writing. I won’t lie to you, as an up and coming writer I’m looking to write for a wide target audience right now and will continue to do so until I make my name.

Any marketer worth their salt will tell you that the average Joe (or Jane) has a short attention span, so when they’re reading a story the action and the dialogue needs to have a zip and a zing to it or else their readership will soon decide to put the book down and go back to their busy lives…or at least update their Facebook statuses and find the right Instagram filter for their next meal.

So, the lesson for you and I today, is to find a flow to the action of the story and once we find it – we need to make sure that we keep it going. We should only break for long, drawn-out paragraphs of self introspection when we really have to.

Although having said that, if anyone can make their novel like the Superbowl and have Beyonce singing halfway through, that will probably work too…so don’t fully rule other sports out!

Congrats to anyone who can correctly recognise the guy in this blog’s featured image.

Do you only blow out candles on your birthday?

I often wonder if it was easier to write many, many years ago. Just imagine it, the clock strikes the seventeenth hour of the day and as the sky around you slowly begins to fade into twilight you down tools and you make your way home. Depending on the era the occasional flickering streetlight might be there to guide you back and then once you’re there, asides from eating, I suppose there must have been little other distractions.

Making the assumption that, at the time, you were educated enough to be able to write to a decent standard – you take a seat at your desk (in front of a roaring fire or candle), fill your pipe with tobacco and what else would you have time for but to write?

I always attach a certain kind of charm to writing by candlelight, I firmly believe in the Danish art of Hygge and I think a simple candle flame really can conjure up the right environment for you to centre yourself and collect your thoughts. So, what could be more perfect than having to use a candle to write with as a necessity rather than just an extra touch?

Of course, I’m being idyllic – I’m sure it would be rather annoying that your only source of illumination could be scuppered at the mere rustle of the wind. Plus, no matter which era you found yourself in times could likely be hard/busy and I’m sure the time to write probably wouldn’t come so easily. Still, it’s a nice thought isn’t it?

I mentioned Hygge earlier – here’s a definition just in case it prickled your curiosity:
Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special.  (http://hyggehouse.com/hygge)

(Look at me using the lazy blogger art of copying definitions)

While in my ‘Sandwiched’ article, I mentioned that you shouldn’t spend too much of your time trying to find the perfect setting and moment to write, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make the odd tweak to your surroundings and your mood.

Start by embracing a bit of ‘Hygge’ and buying yourself a few candles – I was in Copenhagen not so long ago and the Danes absolutely love them. With good reason too. They create the perfect kind of cosy vibe that I find helps me to write – my mind rang with creativity throughout the whole trip.

Whether you write at a desk, or in bed – go out and get yourself some candles. Have them burning away while you write and see if it helps you find some focus – I wonder how many words you could write in the time it takes a standard candle to burn down to its wick?

If you’re interested in finding out some more about Hygge, check out this book – my girlfriend swears by it, and so do many others: Hygge