An Escapologist’s Diary. Part 28.

The Sulking Ape and Other Stories (last week’s launch event for Issue Six) was a smash. I’d go as far to say it was the best launch event we’ve ever done. Live performance definitely trumps DJs and wine receptions.

The Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms saw Escapological readings from Neil, Aislínn, Reggie and myself; live music from Reggie, Nick and Scotch Todd; Laura took the photographs; and Samara did the promotional artwork.

The event was organised, quite excitingly, almost at the last possible minute. We knew in advance which readings we’d do and approximately how the event would fit together; but thanks to our jam-packed August schedules, the venue and promotion were always going to be last-second affairs.

We managed to find a cancelled show at the Voodoo Rooms, which put us in the position of being stand-ins for an entirely separate show (an ‘alternative cabaret’ show) so most of the audience had actually arrived in anticipation of something else entirely. I think they’d been expecting a burlesque dancer to do something inventive with ping-pong balls, so it was a relief to see that they didn’t expect the same from us.

This may seem like something from a nightmare: you and your five pals have to entertain a discerning audience who have come to see alternative cabaret. The crowd took a sporting chance and I think we were able to sufficiently intrigue.

Each reader was a contributor to Issue Six, and so we read from our own pieces. Neil read from his evolutionary cautionary tale, ‘The Sulking Ape’, the title of which we took for the event itself. I read a whimsical piece imparting the virtues of sitting to pee. Aislínn read from her astonishing directory of unorthodox funereal practices, and Reggie from his biographical article about the naturalist Leonard Dubkin. Reggie’s piece, accompanied by music from the Wireless Mystery Theatre was simply beautiful.

Still buzzing from my own Fringe show at another venue, I was full of beans as the MC. I felt obliged to point out that Reggie’s beautiful reading “contained no urine, testicles or dead bodies” as the previous readings had done, but that “it did include a reference to spider silk, which I think we can all agree is fucking filthy. Thanks for that Reggie”.

Reggie and the Wireless Mystery Boys then played the audience softly out of the venue.

I must extend big thanks to all of the performers and to everyone who came along. Thanks also to Peter Buckley Hill for allowing this last-second addition to his Free Fringe lineup.

MEMO: There may be a slight delay with sending all of the subscriber copies out. We printed a very small number for the event, in case of printer errors. We’re going to do one last proof-read before we print the second batch. Shouldn’t be much longer than a week though. Thanks for your patience!

Issue 6 Cover

New Escapologist Issue Six—Against The Grain—is coming sooner than you might think. Here’s a sneak-peek of the cover design.

Available to pre-order at the shop.

New Escapologist Newsletter #5

Welcome to the fifth New Escapologist occasional newsletter. This time, we’ve beautified it. Blimey.

1. Order Issue 5 from and receive a 20% discount

As an experiment, we’ve made New Escapologist Issue Five exclusively available from our printers, We’re not not married to the new system and desperately solicit your feedback on it, but there seem to be several advantages to distributing our publication in this way. If you order a copy before August 14th, you will receive a lovely twenty percent discount.

Issues 1-4 are also still available at the shop.

2. Issue Six

The sixth issue of New Escapologist is on its way. It is titled ‘Against the Grain’ and will feature Reggie Chamberlain-King’s essay about the unconventional career of naturalist Leonard Dubkin (nicely illustrated by Landis Blair); several escape stories; an interview with Leo Babauta; Aislínn Clarke on unorthodox funereal practices; poetry to commemorate office life by Graham Fulton; lavatorial fun with Jon Ransom; and plenty more. It’ll be released officially later in August at the Edinburgh Festival. In the meantime, the option to pre-order is now available.

3. Dudeism film

I recently met with writer Oliver Benjamin and film-maker Thomas Fazi, to record a segment about Escapology for their documentary about Dudeism. The film will be in cinemas and on DVD some time next year. It feels like there’s no turning back now.

4. The Escapological Utopia

On October 10th, 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 talking about the Escapological Utopia. There will be other speakers too, and even the audience will be invited to dress up. This will be amazing.

5. Reader Survey

The eternally-open New Escapologist reader survey is a gigantic cochlea, yearning to vibrate with your opinions. New readers are thanked for completing the questionnaire.

6. Edinburgh stockist

The famous WordPower bookshop on Edinburgh’s West Nicholson Street is now a proud stockist of New Escapologist. If you’re in the vicinity, do pop in and buy a copy of The Bohemias Issue. It’ll help the project immensely.

All for now,

Robert Wringham
Editor, New Escapologist

20% off New Escapologist Issue 5 at

Here are the details of that Lulu offer in the UK. Buy New Escapologist Issue 5 before August 14th and receive a twenty percent discount.

Travelling in a suit

I don’t often travel with other people, but when I do they’re often surprised to see me hanging around the airport in a three-piece suit. I suppose it is a bit strange, but there are reasons for my madness:

1. Just like anyone else, I want to be comfortable for the flight. Since my suit is tailor-made, it is the most comfortable thing in my wardrobe. More comfortable even than my pajamas.

2. When I had it made, I kept in mind my frequent trips through airport security. I added waist tighteners and omitted belt loops so I could leave my belt at home; and I made sure there were pockets in the jacket capable of holding my passport, handkerchief, wallet and book. All of this means I surrender my jacket to the x-ray machine and nothing else.

3. By wearing my suit on the flight, I don’t have to fold it into my check luggage. This means it won’t get crinkled. As the most expensive thing I own, I don’t want to entrust it to luggage handlers or pay for extra baggage insurance.

4. If you encounter a service problem (your flight is delayed or your vegetarian meal was forgotten) people are more likely to take your concerns seriously if you wear a suit. This is possibly because they think you’re rich or important if you’re wearing a suit, but I think it’s actually because a person in a suit is more instantly identifiable as a human being and therefore easier to empathise with. I know it sounds odd, but I think a person in a suit somehow fits into a mental schema of ‘person’ than someone in a miscellaneous outfit.

5. It wasn’t part of my planning, but I recently read that wearing natural fibers is a good precaution to take if you want to survive a plane crash. If the place is on fire, you don’t want to end up kebabbed in polyester napalm. My suit is made of wool, and wool apparently is the best thing to wear in a plane crash.

Buy New Escapologist direct from the printer

As an experiment, I’ve made New Escapologist Issue 5 exclusively available from our printers,

blankBohemias. The Bohemias Issue celebrates the artists and eccentrics of history who have chosen to live as Bohemians, plus lots of practical articles on how to live the Bohemian life. Featuring writing on beards, entropy, rambling, bedsits, Quentin Crisp, garrets, Buddhism, digital work ethics, Erik Satie, Emperor Norton, Bohemian love, and more. Includes a special interview with Alain de Botton. 106 pages. £6 / €7.80 / US$10 / C$10

Support independent publishing: Buy New Escapologist on Lulu.

Normally, when you order a copy, it is shipped from New Escapologist HQ. In other words: I personally receive the order from PayPal, package your copy and stand in line at the post office to send it. I quite enjoy this process and am proud to be so involved, but as New Escapologist increases in popularity it’s getting to be a bit much. It’s also tricky to find volunteers to take care of everything when I’m away. So let’s give the alternative a try, eh?

There are significant advantages for you too:

– You can enjoy the benefits of Lulu special offers (in fact, you can get 20% off right now);
– You can enjoy a discount if you want to buy multiple copies;
– Readers outside the UK will enjoy cheaper shipping rates;
– Your order will arrive in higher quality packaging than we can afford in-house;
– Your order is less likely to be lost in the post, coming from Lulu rather than a parochial post office;
– Lulu have an excellent customer services department and can afford to send you a replacement copy if yours gets lost in the post.

The new process doesn’t require you to learn anything special. It’s just like buying a book on Amazon. Let me know if you have any complaints about this new method. We can always go back.

For now, Issues 1-4 are still available in the usual way (because I’ve got a hundred of each sitting in my living room). But if the experiment with Issue 5 is a success and people are happy with ordering from Lulu, we’ll make all of our issues available there.

To get things going, why not take advantage of the current 20% discount coupon? It’s valid until August 14th. Type SINKUK at checkout*.

*I’ve just realised that this coupon code is a UK-only offer. See for discounts where you are.

Is it time to go to the pub now?

Since far too much productivity advice these days seems to assume that productive work is all that matters in life, let’s be clear: “calling off the day” to go and join friends in the local beer garden – or to do anything else that’s similarly fun or enriching – is an actively good thing (providing it won’t get you fired). You should do it a lot. What you shouldn’t do is fail to make progress on what matters because of what it says on your wristwatch. Don’t head to the beer garden because you’re postponing the important stuff till tomorrow, in other words. Head to the beer garden because it’s important in itself.

Oliver Burkeman this week writes about the phenomenon of ‘calling the day off’. I do this too, and I’m sure many of the self-employed or self-motivated among you will have experienced the same phenomenon.

It’s 4pm, you’ve had a few aborted attempts at knuckling down, but you’re just not feeling the productivity vibe. So you call the day off and go to the pub.

I’ve started practicing an extreme version of this. Over time, I’ve learned to get a feel for what’s going to be a productive or non-productive day from the get-go, so now I give whole days over to skiving thoroughly, from the morning. Better that than waste half the day looking at a blinking cursor only to achieve nothing. I either throw myself into several hours of workflow with total gusto, or I cut my losses immediately and have a nice day.

Leonard Dubkin

During [his] year of unemployment, he took a job briefly in answering customer inquiries for a radio manufacturer, but he could not understand how his colleagues managed to work without a nearby window. In fact, many preferred no window at all. It was only Mr Dubkin who liked the chance to look out on the world, to gaze on, with particular attention, the formations of swooping birds.

My favourite article from the upcoming New Escapologist Issue 6 is a biographical item by Reggie Chamberlain-King about the gentle naturalist Leonard Dubkin. The article is illustrated throughout by the incredibly talented Landis Blair.

Issue 6—Against the Grain—can now be pre-ordered from the shop.

Escape to the Athens of the North

We’ve a few events coming up in Edinburgh. Why Auld Reekie? Simple coincidence, Madam.

August 7th sees a small press fair at the Forest Cafe, at which New Escapologist will have a stall. I’ll be there myself, so do come along and say hello. Free entry.

On the same day, I’ll be recording an Escapological walk-and-talk for Thomas Fazi’s upcoming film about Dudism. This isn’t something you can come and see, but you can come along to Thomas’ Dude-themed “rug-in” at Prince’s Street Gardens in the evening.

On August 24th-27th, as part of the Free Fringe, Friendly Mr Pineapples and I will be recording four improvised podcasts with a live audience at the Rabbie Burns cafe/bar on the Royal Mile. This is nothing to do with Escapology, though I’ll be happy to talk about it (as part of the podcast or secretly in the bar after the recording) and will probably have some copies of New Escapologist to buy at the venue. Free Entry.

We’ve not got a date yet, but the Edinburgh Festival will also see the official launch of New Escapologist Issue 6. Yes, we’ve been beavering away to produce the sixth issue in record time. More news on the new issue and the Edinburgh launch event soon.

On October 10th, I’ll take part in The Salon for Untitled Projects at the Traverse Theatre. The theme for the evening is ‘The Future’ and will involve my dressing up in Nineteenth Century garb and talking about the Escapological Utopia. There will be other speakers too, and even the audience will be invited to dress up!

I should also mention that the famous WordPower bookshop on Edinburgh’s West Nicholson Street is now a proud stockist of New Escapologist. If you’re in the vicinity, do pop in and buy a copy of The Bohemias Issue. It’ll help the project immensely.

After all of this, you will probably find me collapsed, exhausted, upon Arthur’s Seat.

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