Discover more from From the Desque of Robert Wringham
I Can't Realise you Love Meeee.
Hello! And welcome to From the Desque of Robert Wringham, the dainty new name I’ve given to the newsletter you’ve been subscribed to since you were yay high.
I hope this video link doesn’t scare or infuriate you. I just want to get you interested in my new book, Melt It!. It’s a volume of comedy history (my second one after 2012’s You Are Nothing) in which I celebrate the work of one particular fringe artist: the Iceman.
I’m so proud of this book. It’s very pure, came together satisfyingly quickly, is aesthetically quite impressive (full of colour pictures!), and unlike The Good Life for Wage Slaves, it grew from love instead of misery.
Well, unless you count the misery of some of the Iceman’s audiences, that is. You see, a lot of people didn’t quite get what he was going for. The Iceman is one of those rare talents that only a connoisseur can appreciate. Which is why you, madam, are the perfect reader for this book.
Last June, the Iceman and I spent a day together at Battersea Arts Centre in London. We talked for hours about his life and career — about his time in the circus, about his turns at the world’s most notorious comedy clubs, about being insulted by Chris Tarrant — while I wrote it all down. The interview is presented in Melt It! alongside 56 historic Polaroid photographs, a similar number of original Iceman artworks, my own introductory essay, a foreword by Simon Munnery, and an afterword by Stewart Lee.
Did I mention that the Iceman used to melt ice on stage? Oh yes, sorry, that’s the main thing really. He went into comedy clubs to melt homemade blocks of ice. He did jokes and stuff as he went along, but mostly he melted ice. Theatrically.
Well, I told you he was fringe.
And yet Bill Bailey from QI and Black Books etc. describes him as “a legend.” Jo Brand pegs him as “a true performance artist.” And Mike Myers (yes, he of Shrek and Austin Powers) remembers him as one of his all-time favourites of the comedy circuit.
The book is making subtle waves. We got some early coverage from Chortle and the British Comedy Guide (both important webular organs of British comedy), Adele Carroll made us the brilliant book trailer you can see above, and I even rescued the Iceman’s Wikipedia page from ignominious deletion. The Iceman lives!
Is this book a mad, mad folly? Probably. But it is also brilliant. It’s positively packed with showbiz anecdote, outsider art, intrigue, mystery, and one or two puns.
Please consider buying the book today from Go Faster Stripe (£15 for a proper print copy or a measly £5 for a download) while it’s still cold.
In Other News…
May I give you a quick progress report on some other projects?
My novel, Rub-a-Dub-Dub, is honestly on its way. I posted an update with all the sudsy details for the patient Kickstarter backers. If I have my way, it will be out by April or May.
The novel’s release date is connected to my non-hostile £1 takeover of my former publisher, P+H Books. Yes, I’m the publisher now. “And there’s gonna be some changes around here.” I’ve always wanted to say that. Either another publisher will buy the novel before April 5th, in which case we’ll have a publication date from them, or my business partner and I will publish it ourselves on our gleaming new press. “Poised” is the word. We are poised.
As you probably already know, New Escapologist is coming back this year as a proper print magazine. I’m aiming for June. Among our regular columnists will be McKinley Valentine and Tom Hodgkinson. Plus, there will be plenty of unwise wisdom and literary handstands from Yours Truly. There will be ways to get involved soon, but in the meantime, please keep an eye on the blog for updates and/or make sure you’re on the New Escapologist Substack for the free monthly newsletter.
My blog, The Occasional Papers is still in the pink. I’ve not been writing it very much but there are a few substantial new entries since we last spoke and one or two micro entries too, so check it out. If you want to.
(By the way, do you remember RSS? An RSS reader is still a good way to keep up with blogs without soiling your brains with social media. I use Feedly and it’s okay, though I’m interested in alternatives if anyone knows a good one).
I’m also writing something in secret with Chicago-based illustrator Landis Blair. This one will take a year or so to bear its sinister berries, so you’re probably better off forgetting I mentioned it.
Why so much activity from Mr. Lazybones all of a sudden? Well, there are few reasons and I’m glad you asked, though let me assure you that I still spend vast swathes of time hiding in velveteen corners, consuming chocolate biscuits and illegally-uploaded arts documentaries.
First, the stress of the visa application (as discussed in The Good Life for Wage Slaves) seems to be finally over. After years of strife and high anxiety, I think I’ve finally healed and I now seem to have the mental peace to Do Things again. I can, at last, dare to dream. (I’m not sure why so many of my dreams involve financially ruinous publishing projects though).
Second, I sometimes wonder why there isn’t a golden era of culture unfolding right now, post-pandemic, much as it did after the First World War — or in what we now call the Interwar period. The people who set up or frequented Cabaret Voltaire were delighted to be alive and didn’t know that a Second Great War was looming. Might not our current period turn out to be inter-pandemic rather than “post-pandemic”? I dearly hope this will not be the case, but World War II was probably less plausible to the Marcel Duchamp and Tristan Tzara than ending up stuck at home again someday, Zooming against our will and baking stupid bread while our Facebook-addled parents lie in hospital on a vent, is to us. It could happen. So let’s live for now. Let’s collaborate, let’s travel, let’s make some worthwhile things happen together.
(Urgh. Some high-vis men are digging up the street outside my window. Faster broadband will no doubt be welcome, but the drilling is driving me bananas. “I’m trying to write my Substack, you noisy bastards!”)
Please read Melt It!
Or, to help fuel my one-man interwar-style cultural renaissance, send caffeine.
I love you more than you can know,