Mittens On Blog

by Karren Ablaze! and the Mittens On Team

Mittens takes a stand – against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

  Now Mittens doesn’t usually like to get involved with politics. But TTIP, she told me – along with similar trade deals TTP and CETA – really gets her back up. Makes her twitchy, she said. I know exactly what she means. Inspired by her rather vocal demonstration from our balcony last week, I thought I’d look for local groups to team up with in the fight against plans for these end-of-the-world-generating deals. Nothing’s come up yet; messages to environmental groups here in Spain haven’t yet been answered. Another option is to visit the area around the massive rock Mittens can see from the balcony, Gibraltar. We looked into who its representatives are to find out where they’re at with the TTIP. Julie Girling and Ashley Fox are two of the MEPs responsible for this British Overseas Territory, and their views on TTIP have been recorded here. What shocked us was the way they talk about ‘trade’. It’s an innocuous word, on the surface. Trading is good, how else do we get the things we need? But it quickly becomes apparent, reading this and other accounts by TTIP’s proponents, that trade is the highest good. Not solving poverty, not human rights, not caring for the environment and other species. Just trade. More international trade – yes! Even though any pussycat could tell you that the import and export of stuff creates greater carbon emissions than stuff you make at home. Another ‘benefit’ is reduced tariffs for businesses. For tariffs, read tax, of course. Thinking about these sorts of plans, it starts to make sense about all those huge companies...

2015: The year we found our Mittens

It was May. I’d been in Barcelona, and had just initiated the development of Ablaze! 11 by interviewing Jason Williamson about the UK’s tragic general election result. I’d also been thinking about the anxiety I was feeling, comparing it to that of a rescue cat that had moved into our apartment block. My mind seemed to freak out like this confused tabby who would turn up one floor above his place and shout repeatedly, Sheldon from Big Bang Theory style, until his human would come and show him the way back. I decided to try some Rescue Remedy and that actually helped – it kicks in after about fifteen minutes and takes the edge right off. Edu liked the repetition of the word ‘rescue’ and that got me thinking more about the concept. I wrote a song about it. The day after I got home Chris and I went out shopping in the car. On the way home I spotted a tiny ball of fur at the side of the road, with two big eyes staring at us. “Is that a really small cat?” I asked him. “Yes, but what can we do?” “Stop the car!!!” He pulled over and we walked over to this tiny thing. Chris knew what to do – we were lucky we had some meat on us – and he grabbed it from the car. She didn’t need much coaxing – the little thing was starving and gratefully snatched pieces of bacon from me (this turns out not to be the best food for a cat, but at the time she wasn’t complaining). She...

Happy New Bunny Ears! Now, things are gonna get personal

Hey! Happy 2016! This is the thing. I have loads of ideas floating round my head and I keep meaning to blog them at you, but their numerousness and my perfectionism means I have been doing exactly nada about it. So the blogs on here have been intermittent, to say the least. But now they’re going to be less into Mittens (On). They’re going to get personal! Thank you for if you did the survey! I loved your answers and will write about them soon. After I did that I realised something – it’s not really about me finding out what people want and then creating it. It’s about me knowing what I want to create, and then creating it. So that is going to be the dynamic of Mittens On/whatever I do. Pretty soon I’m going to rearrange the site so it is about the things I do rather than what Mittens On does, cos let’s face it, it only publishes about one thing a year. One person (plus an amazing team!) can only do so much big project publishing in between all the life stuff that happens, and I have had a bad habit of doing too much and making myself sick, which only slows things down. Here are some of the things I am planning to do this year: Get myself better Set up that new website I just mentioned Write my novel Launch a new imprint and publish Three Minus One (ed. Sean Hanish and Brooke Warner) and The Carrot Cure (written by me) Find an assistant to help me with this and other publishing...

Who are you and what do you want from me? Or, the changing fates of Mittens On Publishing

I don’t know if you were wondering, but I’m going to tell you the long story about what is going on with me and Mittens On publishing. Bear with me, or if you’re in a rush, scroll to the bottom to get to the bit where you can tell me what you think about what we have been trying to do, in our beautiful and prize-laden survey. Mittens On started as a platform to publish my first book, The City Is Ablaze!. I could have had a regular publisher put it out for me, but the first and only one I approached was a bit too enthusiastic and it scared me off. It turned out I really really wanted to do it myself. Over the three years I spent putting the book together I’d been relishing and reminiscing about my adventures in zine publishing, and finally I had the chance to do something even more exciting – publish a real live book. So I did it myself. At some point I realised that my publishing house needed a name. I didn’t want The City Is Ablaze! by Karren Ablaze! to be published by Ablaze! Publishing, and so Mittens On was born. (Why Mittens On? That’s gonna have to be another story, which will also include the tale of how we now have a publishing house kitten. Cute alert!). The next thing that happened is that we published another book. Mark Burgess’s autobiography View From A Hill was out of print. We loved it but we couldn’t buy it – we couldn’t even order it from a library – and...

The Mark Burgess – John Lydon connection, continued: The Sex Pistols final UK show

  Photo: The Pistols at Ivanhoe’s, Huddersfield, 25/12/1977, by Alex Sokol   In my last post I said nothing of the connection between the two artists, John Lydon and Mark Burgess. Like countless other punk and post-punk musicians, Mark didn’t know he was going to play in a band before he saw the Sex Pistols. The section of View From A Hill where he describes his first live encounter with them is one of the book’s highlights, and is an exciting account of a very special occasion, not just for the coach loads of kids who were treated to a matinee performance – the band put on a special show for the children of striking firemen that same day, which Mark inadvertently gatecrashed – but because it was their last ever show in the UK.* I’m not going to give the game away – you’ll have to get hold of the book to read the whole story – but here’s an excerpt that details Mark’s journey to the venue on a snowy Christmas day, 1977: I made my way up to the junction of the motorway. During the night it had been snowing quite heavily, so I augmented my usual leather and mohair punk attire with a borrowed hippie Afghan coat turned inside out against the freezing cold. Little was moving on the motorway, and the clothes certainly didn’t help, but eventually a car stopped and I got in. The elderly man driving the car got it into his head, for some reason I was never able to fathom, that I was a soldier making my way home on...

Why I Didn’t Interview Johnny Rotten

Towards the end of 2014, I had a dilemma. The folks at Off The Shelf literature festival in Sheffield had invited me to interview John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, in front of a live audience.