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.



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.


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!”

New Escapologist Issue Five launch event

That there’s a New Escapologist gathering in Glasgow on 10th May 2011. If you fancy coming along, we’ll be at The Arches (beneath Central Station) between 6pm and 9pm.

>Facebook event page.

>Event page at The Arches.

All are welcome. Bring friends. Meet the creative team behind the magazine, mingle with other readers and buy a copy of the mag. Free entry, naturally.

“Foppish, irresponsible, and very needed” – Pat Kane, ThoughtLand

“Excellent publications which deserve a wide readership” – Tom Hodgkinson, The Idler

New Escapologist Issue Five available now

Issue Five of New Escapologist is out now! My journalistic contributions include an interview with Alain de Botton, an account of my time living in a Glaswegian attic, and a new editorial called ‘Behind the scenes of New Escapologist’.

Also in this issue are Dickon Edwards on bedsits and Quentin Crisp; Tom Mellors on Bohemian love; and Reggie C. King on Erik Satie. Loads more too. Probably our best (and certainly fullest) issue to date.

Purchase your copy at the NE shop today.

Wringham & Godsil Podcast 28

Episode 28 is online now! This time we podcast live from a motorway service station in the North of England.

Rob has sushi. Dan has fajitas. The hand-held recording device has some 69p zinc-based batteries. We’re ready to go!

From Dan’s car, we discuss public toilet politics; Dan’s misinterpretation of the Jesus resurrection story; promote a new kidney stone-giving soft drink; prematurely leak news of our possible Edinburgh Fringe show; and Rob reminisces about the time he rode upon the ant from Honey I shrunk the Kids.

This episode also features the introduction of our new catchphrase, “You can’t throw that away. It’s a piece of foam”. This will soon be chanted ad-nauseum by school children and office workers across the world.

Wringham & Godsil Podcast: Series 2

Our rambling, shambling, deliciously-dangling podcast makes a triumphant return with Episode 27: “A is for Beginnings”.

This slice of podcast pie is also known as “Series 2, Episode 1”. Yes, we’ve decided to complicate the future of our once-simple numbering scheme. Needless to say, we anticipate a tsunami of frustrated fan backlash.

But wait! In addition to the main podcast, we also recorded TWO pre-podcast chats. The first (26a) takes place in my mum’s house; and the second (26b) is a Robert Llewellyn-style mini-podcast recorded in Dan’s car en-route to the studio. Never has so much W&G been unleashed on a single day; probably with good reason.

As usual, the main episode is available at the above link and on iTunes. The bonus easter eggs, however, are only available at the above links.

Series 2 will continue in earnest on Sunday 27th March. Enjoy!

9th March-25th May 2011: Robert Wringham and the Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum

As a piece of performance art, I am making myself available to the public, every Wednesday noontime for the next three months.

As if at the whim of a chrono-synclastic infundibulum, I will appear at Glasgow’s Kibble Palace between 12:00 and 13:00 every Wednesday until the end of May.

You’ll find me sitting near the statue of “King Robert and his Monkey” (pictured above).

According to the plaque at the foot of the statue, “[Robert] was an arrogant king who was deposed by an angel, stripped of his robes, and forced to assume the role of a jester, with only a monkey for a friend.”

Come and meet me. The words “Hello, Robert” will activate me and, I’ll do one of three things:

1. I’ll casually talk with you until 13:00 (or until you leave);

2. I’ll read a single random passage from Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (the book from which I take my name);

3. I’ll tell you a short anecdote about my monkey, whose name is Daniel Godsil;

4. I’ll walk you around the main circle of the Kibble Palace, telling a made-up lie about the history of each statue.

I’ll also have copies of New Escapologist with me if you’d like to buy one.

This supernatural occurrence is unsanctioned, and has nothing to do with Glasgow Botanic Gardens or Glasgow City Council. Tell your friends.

9th February 2011: It’s all talk with Asaf Gerchak

On February 9th, I’ll be one of three guests at Asaf Gerchak’s new on-stage talk show, It’s All Talk.

The gig is held at Montreal’s most satisfying microbrew, Brutopia. Come along if you’re in the area or hop on a plane if you’re not. It’ll be ace.

Not sure what Asaf and I will talk about yet (it’s improvised, you silly goose), but we’ll probably cover New Escapologist and Alphabites and non-self-promotional avenues too. If a reading is demanded, I’ll probably do psychic air traffic control for flies. Boogle!

5th February 2011: Confabulation

On February 5th, I’ll be doing a stint at Matt Goldberg’s storytelling night, Confabulation. It’s at a venue called Shaika in Montreal and is sure to be a hoot.

The theme of this month’s performance is ‘neighbourhoods’ so I’ll be squirting out some anecdotal curds about Dudley, England.

Side Street Review article. December 2010.

The December issue of Side Street Review features a lengthy interview I did with philosopher Joseph Heath on the idea that rebellion against Capitalism actually helps the system. It makes for chilling reading but hopefully ends on a positive note.

New Escapologist breakfast party @ The School of Life, London

8:30am, 13th August 2010 sees the New Escapologist breakfast party at the School of Life in London.

Founded by Alain de Botton and friends, the School is the perfect venue to mark the launch of our philosophy-inspired fourth issue. The School is officially closed for the duration of August, but they’re opening especially for us. Special thanks to The School for this.

The event will feature a talk by New Escapologist Editor, Robert Wringham and a unique ‘conversation breakfast’ run by Mark Vernon. It’ll also be a great opportunity to meet some of the New Escapologist staff and writers as well as other New Escapologist readers.

We’ll have advance copies of the magazine for sale (or for free collection to subscribers).

For those who fancy it, the event will informally continue at the nearby St. George’s Gardens and/or local Camden drinkery.

The event is limited to twenty places and costs £20. Tickets will be on sale until July 30th (or until they sell out, whichever comes first). Come along! It’s going to be great.

New Escapologist website launched

New Escapologist has a new home on the web.

We hope you enjoy the new look. The site was built on the proceeds of Issue 3 sales. Huge thanks go out to our loyal readers.

As ever, you can leave comments at the new site and send us your lengthier messages by email.

Remember to update any bookmarks, especially in Google Reader! Add to Google

Wringham & Godsil take a break

Rob has moved to Canada for a while and Dan has been arrested for being a sex pest. Or maybe it was the other way around, what do I know? I’m just an imaginary voice in your head.

For these reasons, Wringham & Godsil are taking a break from the podcastery but will be back in October for more episodes of their sub-par Alphabites programme.

Here’s a picture of the boys with fellow podcaster Mr. Richard Herring at the Birmingham Glee Club last week:

You can still be a part of their independent projects by following Dan’s Twitter feed or buying Issue Three of Rob’s magazine, New Escapologist.

New Escapologist Issue Three on sale now

Issue Three of New Escapologist is now available to for your delectation.

This issue features a conversation with Tom Hodgkinson, David Gross on tax resistance, Leo Babauta on shopping, Brian Dean on anxiety culture, Reggie C. King on the works of Moondog, Dickon Edwards on pseudonyms and truly loads more. Discover what to embrace and what to reject in this bumper “How To” issue.

My personal contributions, as well as overseeing the enterprise, include some words about autonomy, trifles, Montreal, sea-turtles and escape-route plotting.

In my grotesquely biased opinion, it’s our finest issue to date.

For intellectual consumption only. Buy it here!

New Wringham & Godsil podcasts

Mr. Daniel James Godsil and I have taken up recording Wringham & Godsil’s Alphabites once more. It’s just a thing we do for fun but it wouldn’t be any good without an audience to imagine, so we release them into the wild.

Two new podcasts (“T is for Trailer” and “E is for Etterick”) are available now at the audio pages and there are two more episodes recorded and being edited as we speak.

Since I was away in Amsterdam this week, look out for a very special upcoming episode (“D is for Derek”) in which Dan is joined by the Ambassador of Average, Mr. Derek Gray. I’ve had a quick listen to the podcast and I can reveal that Mr. Gray delivers a “perfectly respectible” performance.

We’ll record one podcast a week but we’re a bit slow at editing and getting them online, so the total effect probably won’t be weekly.

OMG! returns to Glasgow. 31st January 2010.

Poster design Ryan Vance
Poster design Ryan Vance

Fergus Mitchell’s amazing cabaret of diary-reading and earnestness returns to Glasgow’s Offshore Cafe on 31st January 2010.

It’s likely to be a “Greatest Hits” performance, so anyone who missed my infamous slideshow could have a rare opportunity to see it again.

Join us on Facebook and feel free to download, circulate, print or partially digest the poster on the left. Also, there is a press release.

New Escapologist Issue One: reprint now available

After a year out of print, Issue One of New Escapologist is now once again available.

With our new higher production values and Tim Eyre’s sensational typography, the relaunch is a highly improved version of the original.

The relaunch features our classic articles by Lord Whimsy, Judith Levine, Neil Scott and Robert Wringham and is illustrated throughout with new work by Samara Leibner.

Buy it now at the magazine shop for the limited special offer price of £3.

There are even some Issue One Easter Eggs over at the main site and you can see photographs of the recent Great Escape event with Tom Hodgkinson.

“The Great Escape”. 7th October 2009. Glasgow.

Screen shot 2009-09-20 at 23.07.14

The Idler and New Escapologist have teamed up for “The Great Escape”: an evening of discussion, music and freewheeling anarchy.

Tom Hodgkinson (How to be Free, The Idler) and Robert Wringham (The New Escapologist) discuss practical ways to escape the banalities of modern life. This will be followed by a light hearted war-time type sing-a-long, with the audience invited to join in with the hosts on idler-themed songs.

For more information, see the official microsite or the Facebook event page.

Come along. Bring your friends.