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Robert Wringham, New Escapologist
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Robert Wringham, New Escapologist

Writer Robert Wringham has just relaunched his magazine New Escapologist after a five year break. ‘I started remembering what fun it all was, how it opened the doors to meeting so many interesting people.’

The new 14th issue is the first one we at magCulture have seen, and we immediately fell for its idiosynscratic mix of gentle humour, curious interviews and more serious reports. Robert—who began his creative life as a stand-up comedian—has also just published his first novel, ‘Rub-A-Dub-Dub’.



What are you doing this morning?
Monday is obviously the worst day of the week if you work in an office or something, but I've escaped that world for now and I work on my own stuff all day long. So I love all days equally. I usually start by answering some email and taking a few orders to the Post Office, clearing the decks before finding the mental clarity I need to generate new written work.

Today I'm working on New Escapologist issue 15, commissioning new pieces and writing a piece of my own about what I call the Old Web, the pre-social media Web, and how it never really went away. Late in the afternoon I'll continue to edit John Robinson's new book about Momus, which I've really been enjoying.

A lot of people play music while they work but I generally prefer silence on a par with the vacuum of space or at least a nice old library. Then again, I sometimes play gentle jazz on vinyl: Alice Coltrane's Journey in Satchidananda is a favourite, as is Miles Davis' In a Silent Way.


Where are you today?
Home, baby, home. I've arranged my life around the principle of living and working in the same couple of rooms. You might have heard of the fifteen-minute city? Well, I live in the one-minute city. So today you find me at my usual IKEA folding wing table, peacefully swimming through my projects.

I try not to fetishize the writing process too much so I don’t have a special desk for it. I stay humble like Jessica Fletcher in ‘Murder She Wrote’, who writes mystery novels at the kitchen table. Sometimes I mix things up by taking some work to the big quiet study hall at the Mitchell Library whose carpets are fun, or have a meeting at my local coffee shop, Meadow Road Coffee. Today I’m in my black cotton PJs and I couldn't be happier.

What can you see from your desk/ through the window?
The view from my desk is of my small record collection and shiny tube amp as well as the green chaise-long we dragged back from Montreal on a boat. Behind all this is the window through which I can see the best and worst of Glasgow, the real hustle and bustle.

I live in a top floor tenement flat overlooking Dumbarton Road, a busy commercial street running through Partick. So I see drunks and hoodlums, young goths and old rockers, amazing tattoos and shaved heads, beautifully turned-out trans people, little old ladies, old men with rickets, coffee-swilling hipsters, the occasional Orange March (which annoys me), young couples carrying bookcases or tables to and from from the big homeware charity shops. It's amazing. I heard that (comic book artist) Frank Quietly used to live above Glasgow Central station and he got inspiration for his characters by watching the people go by. I could really believe that.

Which magazine do you first remember?

Probably Sega Power circa 1991. I haven't been a gamer since the nighties, but the Mega Drive was my main high at the age of ten. I remember obsessing over this magazine, just gawping at its artwork and production choices for hours. I think I used it (as well as comics and certain TV shows) to make sense of the adult world and the cultural space beyond our home and town.

Issue 27, for example, had a Space Invaders cover which was also a pull-out A3 poster inside. I had it on the wall for a while and I'd just stare at it for ages. The invaders themselves are really cool and I probably liked how the woman's top is a bit torn. The building in the background looks a bit like Birmingham's Telecom Tower, so maybe I imagined the alien invasion happening just down the road from our house.

This mag is archived online as PDFs and the sense of deep nostalgia I get from looking at them is positively vertiginous. It makes me feel a bit queasy.


Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
I’m constantly impressed by Luncheon magazine. It’s inexpensive for such a luxury-feeling mag and it always has the right balance of things I know and things that are new to me. I’ll buy it for a particular interview or feature subject but it will be full of surprises and newness too. My wife reads The Gentlewoman sometimes, for which I'm hardly the core demographic but I do admire how graceful and urbane it is.

Describe New Escapologist in three words.

Niche. Cheeky. Defiant.

What is Escapology?

It’s the art and science of escape. If you don’t like your boring job or the people around you or the town you live in, you can knuckle down and enact a plan of escape. Visualise an alternative, save up your money, do a runner. It’s different to escapism, which is about temporarily fleeing the mundane by watching films or reading novels or whatever.

We’re interested in people who have turned their life upside-down by escaping the inadequacy they've drifted into through the bullying of capitalism or the demands of society, and into a more creative life of their own design. You know, Escapology!

How do you balance the whimsy of some contributions and the more serious tones of others?
I actually quite like to give the readers the bends as they move from one atmosphere to another. I suppose I just see both types of contribution as anchored to two central themes: the theme of the issue and the broader theme of Escapology. If someone is writing about living like a hermit in a shed while someone else is very soberly describing stock market options, I don’t mind at all. Escapology is a big tent: freaks and rebels from all corners. I think that keeps it interesting.

The new issue 14 has just arrived six years after issue 13… what happened?
Yes, issue 13 was supposed to be the final instalment but I just couldn’t stay away. I stopped to work on other things because really I’m a writer while the editing and publishing of a small-press magazine was only one single wing of that enterprise, almost a side project.

But while the magazine was on pause, I kept the blog going and I started a Substack newsletter and even toyed with subscription essays mediated by Patreon, but people just kept on asking ‘when’s the magazine coming back?’, ‘why don't you do the magazine anymore?’ And I started remembering what fun it all was, how it opened the doors to meeting so many interesting people.

Plus, I value magazines in real life while Patreon isn’t anything I’m hugely passionate about. So I brought it back. We ran a Kickstarter to raise the cash for it but it was also to test the water, to find out if people really are still interested or if they’re just saying they're interested. I asked the old readership for £3,000 to get started and they gave me over £8,000 with minimal cajoling on my part. So, yeah, it was time to bring it back by popular demand.

What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
For the magazine I’m interviewing Ariel Anderssen about escaping the Jehovah's Witnesses to become a BDSM model. That’s pretty exciting. But I’m also really enjoying my edit of this Momus book. I've been a fan of his lyrics and his written work and his improvised lecture series for a long time so this project is pleasantly indulgent.

Editor Robert Wringham
Art director Samara Leibner

Portrait of Robert by Alan Dimmick

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New Escapologist #14

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