Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Social Science Centre Manchester seeks members, scholars and funds

A new Social Science Centre (SSC) for Manchester will provide affordable co-operative Social Science Higher Education (HE) in the centre of Manchester this autumn. SSC is now seeking members and scholars, alongside funds to get off the ground.

Run as a co-operative, and owned by its members, the SSC Manchester will eventually be self-sustaining. The first Social Science Centre, in Lincoln, has successfully offered free, co-operative higher education since 2011, and granted approval for the new Manchester branch at its 2016 AGM in May. SSC Manchester will begin with exactly the same model and constitution as SSC Lincoln, and it is hoped that it will be the first of many more new SSC branches.

The 2016-2017 term of SSC Manchester will take place each Monday evening, from 6pm-8pm, at the Friends Meeting House on Mount Street, beginning on Monday 5 September. This area is saturated with radical history, including St Peter’s Fields, the location of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre.

SSC is currently fundraising to cover the costs of room hire for the first phase, September to December 2016, and printed materials. Contributions can be made at

Dr Steve Hanson of SSC Manchester commented: “The new HE white paper clearly places Higher Education in the market, and as a servant of the market, although no-one inside has been naive enough to think it anywhere else for some time. HE will not be miraculously liberated from neoconservative policy in the near future. There is no point relying on a long wait for internal change.

“It is time to create new values: a more flattened hierarchy, no fees, a message that all of us are ‘scholars’, a Higher Education co-op. SSC Lincoln were the first to do things differently after the Browne Report of 2009 and the Millbank Riot of 2010, and we will be extending this to more people with the establishment of SSC Manchester. If you believe in an alternative to the current neoliberal model, please help, either by making a contribution to our start-up costs or registering as a scholar or member.”

To find out more about SSC Manchester, and sign up, visit

Twitter: @sscmanc 

Friday, 3 June 2016

The Shrieking Violet interviewed by Mark Reid

I was recently interviewed by playwright Mark Reid for his new project The Rudiment, which has the intention of interviewing a range of creative practitioners in depth. As I feel most contented and comfortable when walking and exploring, I took Mark for a walk along the River Mersey from East Didsbury to Stockport town centre, a route I often walk.

To read the interview, which discusses the practice of writing and interviewing, inspirations and motivations and my engagement with various creative projects, from Manchester Left Writers to Manchester School of Samba, visit

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

He’s Leaving Home: The Shrieking Violet Guide to Hearty Vegetarian Cooking On A Budget

I’ve written and designed a new, very limited-edition publication called He’s Leaving Home: The Shrieking Violet Guide to Hearty Vegetarian Cooking On A Budget. It’s a cookbook for my little brother, who recently left home for the first time, and aims to give ideas for cooking and eating for those who live and eat alone, using everyday ingredients.

The emphasis is on the classic, hearty, simple and solid - think potatoes, pulses, pasta, pies and spices - although unfortunately I've had to leave out anything containing mushrooms or sweet and savoury flavour combinations (both of which I love) as he hates them. The book's also lacking in curries as I felt it was too rich an area to do justice to in this volume ...

I was inspired by a remark that my brother (who really enjoys cooking) made a while ago that he would like to eat less meat and cook more vegetarian food, but lacked inspiration. For ages I planned and thought about writing down all the recipes I make on a regular basis as a birthday present for him. I spent the first few months of this year finally doing that, alongside compiling a list of store cupboard staples I always have in to make sure I am never in the position of having nothing to cook! I have no idea if he'll like or use it, but I find the idea of giving and receiving material goods for the sake of it quite problematic, and would much prefer to share and receive time, interest, ideas and experiences.

Writing it has also been quite a therapeutic and cathartic process. A few of the recipes were developed in collaboration with Daniel Fogarty (baked bean pie and peanut butter jam tarts), and he also introduced me to ground rice pie. I spent last year cooking and cooking and experimenting and experimenting and perfecting recipes, as I was so determined that if only I looked after myself well enough (and ate enough spinach!) I could make myself feel better.

Everything I cook is vegan, but I've purposefully called it 'vegetarian' and used generic words such as 'milk' and 'butter' rather than 'soya milk' and 'vegetable margarine' as I know how alarming some people find the idea of vegan cooking ...

Read online:

A paper copy can be found in Salford Zine Library at Nexus Art Cafe. It’s for my brother, but it’s also for anyone else for whom cooking for one is a chore rather than the pleasure it can and should be.

For optimum results, the recipes should be followed whilst listening to the song 'Bedsitter' from the Soft Cell album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, which I have come to regard as one of the high points of 20th century British culture.
BEDSITTER by Soft Cell from paulvernon on Vimeo.