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St Christopher’s hospice: we’re upping our fundraising efforts

Our books and zine for St Christopher's and Age UK
Look, I know we could all do without yet more misery at the moment, but please hear me out… Due to you-know-what (I can’t even bear to type its name), our local hospice – St Christopher’s – has had to cancel all the vital fundraising events that were planned for the spring and summer.

It’s 25 years today since my wonderful, irreplaceable mum died – with Dad, Tom and I at her side – at St Christopher’s. And three years ago today, we were having one of the worst days ever at home with Dad, who was suffering severe symptoms stemming from his cancer and a recent hospital-acquired infection. Frankly, it was unbearable.

And then St Christopher’s came to our rescue. Later that week, Dad was admitted to the inpatient unit in Sydenham for symptom control and to give Tom and me a rest. By the weekend, he had perked up considerably and we were able to take him out from the hospice to look at the amazing street art that had started to pop up in Penge.

If you’ve read How Graffiti Saved My Dad’s Life (At Least For A While), you know the rest. Yes, Dad’s love of graffiti and street art gave him (and us) focus and meaning at a time when our world was otherwise falling apart. But it was the invaluable support and care we received from St Christopher’s that really made those final few weeks as smooth and bearable as they possibly could be.

Our family owe St Christopher’s a huge debt, which we’ve been trying to repay in some small way by donating all the profits from How Graffiti Saved My Dad’s Life (At Least For A While) and Things My Dad Saw (But Never Bothered Mentioning). As you may know, we’ve now raised more than £2,500, with a little help from our friends. Oh, and I should add that the idea for the graffiti book really came to life during bereavement counselling sessions I received via the hospice.

I’ve also just written a little zine – Send Me A Sign – which is about Mum’s messages from beyond the grave (possibly). It’s only £2, but we’ll be donating all the profits from that to the hospice, too. And we’re already giving half of the profits from Nan to Age UK – but we’ll now give the other half to St Christopher’s.

I realise everyone’s watching their pennies at the moment. And there are lots of other worthy charities across the UK who are feeling the pinch and equally deserving of our support. But, you know, if you’re in the market for a book or zine while you self-isolate/try to ignore the news… Every little helps.

PS Please also take a look at Victoria Sellar’s beautiful photozines – 3:52AM and Anything With A Face. All proceeds from both go to the amazing Maggie’s Centres, who provide free cancer support and care.

PPS On behalf of Mum, who is doubtless rolling her eyes at me in the afterlife, I would just like to say that – unlike everything else I’ve written for Colossive – my next zine will NOT include any mention of her dying. After all, she did lots of other things, too. And out of everything she did, the bit where she died was definitely my least favourite…

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Things My Dad Saw (That Didn’t Make The Book)


After Mum died in March 1995, Dad never went back to his job in a sports shop. He was heartbroken, exhausted and not *that* far off retirement age anyway. Instead, he began to spend more and more time out with his camera in London – taking countless photographs of the city he knew and loved. But he didn’t always think to mention where he’d been and what he’d seen. And I didn’t always think to ask…

Things My Dad Saw (But Never Bothered Mentioning) is a – sort of – prequel to How Graffiti Saved My Dad’s Life (At Least For A While). It’s a collection of Dad’s London street photography – Stop the War marches, performing budgies, naked bike rides and more – dating from the late 1990s to around 2012.

In compiling this book, I was once again faced with a huge challenge: which pictures to use from the many, many albums and memory cards Dad left behind?

Picture quality was a major consideration. Not all the negatives from the pre-digital shots survived and many of the A5 scans just weren’t good enough to make the final cut – which is why this one of the Royal Family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace ended up in the ‘overs’ pile…
Royals on balcony

There were also lots of pictures of celebrities: Gordon Ramsay running the London Marathon; Dawn French strolling through Trafalgar Square; and a delightful close-up of Rolf Harris at an art fair, taken back when he was a much-loved family entertainer and adopted national treasure, rather than… well… you know…

Quick! Let’s change the subject – here’s that nice Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet…

Tony Hadley

Oh, and here’s another picture that didn’t make the book: writer and broadcaster Robert Elms interviewing a giant hamster…

Now, that’s something you don’t see every day.

All profits from Things My Dad Saw (But Never Bothered Mentioning) are going to St Christopher’s Hospice. Price £5, you can buy a copy online; at the hospice reception in Sydenham; at next week’s DIY Space for London Zine Fair in Peckham; or at the Northwest Zinefest in Manchester at the end of July.

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St Christopher’s: a fundraising update and a feature

Hi all – sorry we haven’t posted an update for a while.

The tireless Steve of London Calling Blog held another street art tour of Penge the other weekend. We toddled along as punters, but it wasn’t long before Steve was telling one and all about Gordon and How Graffiti Saved My Dad’s Life 

We nipped home and grabbed a few copies, and after a few sales and some very kind donations, we had enough for our next contribution to St Christopher’s. Amazingly, that’s taken our total so far past £1,500. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped.

Hot on the heels of that, the good folks at St Christopher’s wrote a lovely feature about Gordon, Jane and our two books that are raising funds for the hospice. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/stcgraffitibook

gub feature

We’ve said it before, but we’re amazed and proud that Gordon’s story and photos have touched as many people as they have. We couldn’t be more pleased that his legacy is living on and having such a positive impact.

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Our latest donation to St Christopher’s

We’ve just made our latest donation – £102.04 – to St Christopher’s hospice from sales of How Graffiti Saved My Dad’s Life… and Things My Dad Saw…

That brings our total so far to £1,376.65. Thanks so much to everyone who’s bought a copy (or made a donation during London Calling Blog‘s street art tour of Penge in January).

If you’ve enjoyed either or both of the books, please spread the word so we can carry on raising funds for an amazing institution and getting Gordon’s work in front of more eyeballs. Bless you all!

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An interview at Zine Love (plus Sheffield Zine Fest update)

You can read a quick interview with me over at the Zine Love blog, produced by Friend of Colossive (Platinum Class) Iestyn Pettigrew*. Thanks to Iestyn for his patience!

It includes (but is in no way restricted to):

Tomorrow’s a big day – our second-ever zine fest, and the first that’s not a single bus ride from our house. If you’re anywhere near the Workstation in Sheffield tomorrow (Saturday 18th May), please come and see us!

We’re really pleased to be launching two new bits of work: 3:52AM, a perzine of words and photography by VJ Sellar about the experience of insomnia; and Things My Dad Saw (But Never Bothered Mentioning), a collection of Gordon Gibbens’ photos of the stranger side of London life. Plus, we weren’t sure we were going to be able to pull this off, but there’ll be a special treat for fans of Tracey Pitcher

* Obviously this egregious display of mutual back-scratching will do little to allay the suspicions of those who think we’re part of the Secret World Small Press Government.

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In good company

Dropping into Bookseller Crow on the Hill (London’s most elevated bookshop*) on Saturday, we were thrilled to spot How Graffiti Saved My Dad’s Life… looking the world right in the eye, among some splendid company**.  

We’re enormously grateful to the shop’s co-proprietor Jonathan Main, who is carrying our book free of charge to maximise our donations to St Christopher’s. If you’re within staggering distance of London SE19, roll up, enjoy the fresh air and support an invaluable local bookshop.

In related news, we’re currently hard at work*** on a companion volume of Gordon’s non-street-art pics – Things My Dad Saw (But Never Bothered Mentioning) – which we’re aiming to present to the world at the Sheffield Zine Fest on May 18th, also in aid of St Christopher’s. Watch this space!

* Probably

** Although we still haven’t worked out why Margaret Atwood signed a book to ‘Dave’ when Jane met her at the Edinburgh Book Festival a few years ago

*** Gawping at the screen with a mounting sense of panic