Issue 12 of Smoke: a London peculiar is out – has probably been out for a while (it’s difficult to tell). Nominally a mayoral election special, going to press before the buffoon that is Boris entered the eye of City Hall, but sensing the way the wind and the Evening Standard was blowing, Smoke 12 is somewhat resigned to losing Ken and determined nevertheless to continue to celebrate versions of London that are very likely obscured from mayoral view by that floppy fringe of his; but not, er, by the floppy fringe of editor Matt Haynes, the Stephen Fry of psychogeography (a field of study not noted for whimsy, at least not since the original concept of the dérive was repurposed by the likes of Ian Sinclair).
Alongside regular features like ‘London’s campest statue’ and ‘Words found written on the steamed-up windows of late-night buses’, the latest issue has not untypical stories about the Caledonian Road market; the ghost of the motorway that was meant to connect the river and the M1; and about regularly falling asleep next to a particular stranger on the train into Waterloo, a practice more common than you might imagine among commuters whose outer limits location forces them to rise before six a.m.
While Smoke takes pride in being a paper-based entity, there is a website, and now a blog, Danger: void behind door, which seems to have four purposes – 1) to detail (amusingly) the frustrations of being the editor of what I think we’ll have to call a literary magazine; 2) to act as an outlet for Smoke-y pieces which are perhaps a little short of the roundedness that its published pieces posses; 3) to field interest in Sarah Records, of which Matt was one half; and 4) to return to the light of day some of the pieces he wrote as inserts for the label’s releases, which were frequently of much greater interest than the music. Driftmine reads uncannily like something from one of the better ‘pure writing’ blogs like An unreliable witness. Except that it was written in 1991.
Incidentally Matt also has another past life as a fanzine editor and he may not thank me for it but I quote him in this piece about Hurrah!