Escape Everything!

My latest book is called Escape Everything!

It’s a practical guide to getting out of things. Essential reading for wage slaves and idlers alike.

Published by Unbound. Distributed by Penguin Random House. Available in proper bookshops and even online.

eecover

Blurby:

We are all trapped by modern life. Trapped! Trapped by work, consumerism, stress, debt, isolationism and general unhappiness.

We will each spend an average of 87,000 hours at work before we die. We will spend another 5,000 hours getting to and from work and countless more preparing for work. Worrying about work. Recovering from work.

The majority of us hate our jobs. But without work, we can’t buy all the things we’ve been told we should want and need, so around we go…

Through the pages of New Escapologist magazine, Robert Wringham has been studiously examining the traps of modern life, questioning where our commitment to them stems from and why we are so unable to break free.

Taking inspiration from the great Escapologist Harry Houdini – who escaped from jail cells, straitjackets, and even the innards of a dead whale – Wringham applies Houdini’s feats as a metaphor for real life, proposing the principle of Escapology as a way to cut loose our shackles.

Become a modern-day Escapologist and freedom and happiness might be possible after all.

Genitalia

Almost a year ago, a Toronto Star journalist got in touch because (a) I’d been shortlisted for the Leacock prize and (b) she wanted to know my thoughts on four of the five finalists being male.

I can’t say I approved of the resulting article, but at least I got away with the best quotation in it: a reasonable feminist rallying cry and a knob joke.

But a quote is still just a quote. For posterity, here’s the full and blinding magnificence of what I submitted:

I love the Leacock Medal and the books it promotes. I collect those books, read them, adore them. I kiss them right on the foil-embossed medal when nobody’s looking. Part of the reason I submitted A Loose Egg was an ongoing love affair with the work of Eric Nicol, a dazzlingly witty Leacock veteran.

Gender equality is something I could talk about until the cows (or bulls!) come home. But I’ll try and keep it brief for everyone’s sake.

I think there’s a bias favouring men at large in society and male authors in publishing. Men are the default beneficiaries of so much because of centuries of this bias. It’s pervasive and systemic: men are more likely to be encouraged to write in the first place, more likely to be rewarded for talking about themselves and voicing their opinions, more likely to get published (not that I’ve benefited from that myself) and to dominate the book charts.

The bias has manifested itself in literature as the male voice being accepted as the normal or universal perspective, positioning the feminine as some kind of deviation from that norm or as a “perfectly valid alternative”.

As a shortlisted writer, I don’t know much about the Leacock selection process. I’m not an insider. I just put forward my self-published book and hoped for the best. But I very much doubt the committee want to deliberately exclude anyone. The selection bias in publishing and in society takes place long before the books reach the Leacockers.

Just because there’s no one person or organisation to finger though, doesn’t mean the system at large is beyond investigation.

Something any one person could do to help fight the male bias is to read more women writers, to help eliminate the idea that female authorship is any kind of “special interest” field and to help stimulate market demand for female writers.

The gender bias brings up some good absurdities though. Like how could external genitalia possibly make you a better humorist? Mine have got a few good laughs admittedly but I can hardly take credit for that.

Cluub Zarathustra

I’m researching a book about Simon Munnery’s Cluub Zarathustra (1993-1997).

If you performed at the Cluub or were in the audience for one of the shows, you’d be doing me a tremendous favour by getting in touch. Your account could sit alongside those of Stewart Lee, Richard Thomas, Simon Munnery, Kevin Eldon and many others.

I’m also eager to see any photographs, brochures, ticket stubs or promotional material relating to the show. A bootleg recording would have Holy Grail status. Cheers!

MAY 2012 UPDATE: The book is finished and available to buy. So do so! Though the book is done, I’m still very interested in receiving any new anecdotes or media relating to the Cluub, so always feel free to email.

Upcoming Performance: ‘The Salon’

On 10th October 2011, I’ll take part in The Salon for Untitled Projects at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. The theme for the evening is ‘The Future’ and will involve my dressing up in Nineteenth-Century garb and performing my piece, The Escapological Eutopia: Five Dodgy Prophecies. There will be other speakers too, and even the audience will be invited to dress up!

It’s a Wringham & Godsil Edinburgh Festival show.

Here it is! The inevitable live version of The Wringham & Godsil Podcast: part of Peter Buckley Hill’s much celebrated Free Fringe.

We’re doing FOUR live podcast recordings, on 24, 25, 26 and 27 August 2011.

The name of the show? We’ve gone with THE WRINGHAM & GODSIL PODCAST LIVE! to keep things simple. Here are some of the show titles we rejected:

– Aaaaaargh! It’s a Wringham & Godsil Edinburgh Festival show.
– Quick, Hide, It’s Wringham & Godsil.
– The two faces of Wringham & Godsil.
– Ben Elton Presents: Wringham & Godsil.
– Wringham & Godsil get the munchies.
– The Isambard Kingdom Brunel Story.

It’ll be the usual shambles, but presented in front of a live audience and moved along with the assistance of a pomodoro tomato timer. There will also be celebrity guests, some audience-inspired japery, and a sneak-beak of Rob’s future show Penguin Joke. As a wise man almost certainly once said, “Come!”