The hand dryers of South London’s cafés, pubs and clubs is not a subject we expected a magazine could ever focus on, but as soon as we saw the first issue of The South London Review of Hand Dryers we were won over. We asked editor Wedgley Snipes to tell us about the origins of his mag, and share his week ahead.
Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work
The alarm goes off on my brand new iPhone X (I have the alarm set the same for everyday, I also enable dark mode which helps my eyes adjust in the morning – these are just two of the features that I’m really enjoying on my brand new iPhone X).
Sorry, what was the question? Ah, yes, how do I get to work. Let’s see. Well I guess the first thing I do is peel off my itchy sleeping jumper, pop on a fresh itchy awake-time jumper, slip into my barista slacks, throw my shoes out the window and cycle halfway across London to Paddington without a helmet.
Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office
You know about HotDesking right? Well just chuck all of your brain into the recycling because its 2020 baby and we do things differently/worse around here.
I happen to own a brand new iPhone X and that means I have lot of storage space (265GB). It also means that I’ll submit to whatever the latest lifestyle trend happens to be. So let me tell you about What?Desking (and yes it is as bad as it sounds).
What?Desking is how the modern stooge gets things done.
What?Desking involves having multiple desks that aren’t really desks and it means you complete tasks despite not having a clue as to how or why. Thats the modern way. Indeed, that’s the SLRoHD way. So cop on already because here are my top three What?Desks.
First is the bar at Grind Control (where I work full time, nine to five, serving coffee – so let it be known that if I can write a parody magazine around that noise then so can you. Don’t try and come visit me because you’ll never find it and if anyone reading wants to c.o.m.m.i.s.s.i.o.n my writing then just send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org). Grind Control is where I met SLRoHD co-founder/design wizard Charlie Tollemache (more on him soon) and together we wrote, designed, edited, promoted and shipped issue one of SLRoHD to rave online reviews.
Our second What?Desk is our table at The Lord Stanley Pub. This is where me and Mr Tollemache (remember how I mentioned him) wrote, designed, edited and promoted issue two — AND, in a tactical move, drank away all the profits from issue one. Mr Tollemache built our snazzy website in-between fistfuls of big corn/turkish pizza. Here he is, pictured above, reviewing submissions from various staffers.
The last and easily most desk-like is in my bedroom. A lovely snug cube where all the magic-realism happens.
Nice, isn’t it? I’ve promised Apartamento a look around once I clear up all the upward facing pins and get rid of the smell (Oh lord! The smell!). This is where me and Mr Tollemache polished off issue three and, yes, I know that sounds rude, but please. Excuse the mess but I’m currently working on issue four which features an interview with a man named Tom Shanks who makes hand dryer calendars and I know what you’re thinking but that’s genuinely all true (the calendar’s right there in the photo).
Which magazine do you first remember?
As a toddler I begged my mum for a subscription to London Review of Books. Begged her I did, but she just wasn’t having it. Fair play I guess, there aren’t many pictures. So to compensate she left the latest issue of The Simpsons Comic by my bed. And wouldn’t you know it, seems I’ve been plagiarising publications way before Buffalo Zine/SLRoHD made it cool.
Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
I mean, all joking aside, big shout out to London Review of Books. Great writing, iconic format; but hey, hold on a second – they still owe us money for the copies of issue one we HAND DELIVERED last summer. If you’re reading this ‘LRB’ then please know that myself and everyone else involved in plagiarising your work are still suitably miffed. And while I’m at it – Dyson, return my emails you bunch of hoovers.
What else? Oh! I’ve also been using Mundial as a metaphorical raft that will bring me closer to my father. You see, about five years ago I gave up a glamorous life of Sunday league football and moved to South London to become a hipster full time. The old man still hasn’t gotten over it (and who could blame him) so I’ve paid for a years’ subscription to what is, at the very least, a delightful read and here’s hoping that it’ll give me enough fodder to string a conversation together while we’re down the pub over Xmas, or (at the very least) serve as leverage for when he physically clobbers me with his many, many issues of Four Four Two.
Can you describe your magazine in three words?
Independent, impartial and impractical and that’s it.
Describe your first encounter with a hand dryer
Alright, strap in, because what follows is a legitimate excerpt from a legitimate upcoming essay entitled ‘How Not to Write a Zine’. It details how this whole shit show started…
And so it came to be that in the most serendipitous of circumstances I was approached at the tail end of that black week by a pal informing me of a secret society… ‘Wedgley you’d love this, its called The FB Group for People Who Appreciate High Quality Hand Dryers. Its literally just people posting pictures of different hand dryers and then leaving a little review.’
Are there even that many types of hand dryer in the world?
‘Apparently so! Theres like 9,000 people in the group. Have a look. Its right up your street.’
Now, I wish I could accurately credit whomever it was that first introduced me to that group because I’d like to slap them on the bottom and buy them a pint. I’ve whittled it down to three possible pals: Rico, Zola or Ben. Chaps, if you’re reading this then please do get together and figure out amongst yourselves who exactly it was. Wrong answers only please.
Errr, where was I… Yes! So I go for my usual lunch break which consisted of nipping across the road and finding a comfy set within the waiting lounge of the Isle of Man Sea Terminal (lunch that eponymous day would have consisted of a Ham and Lettuce Sandwich w/ crushed Pringles, A chocolate and jam Wagon Wheel, a banana, a couple carrots and a pack of mini cheddars because that’s what I had for lunch ever day and yes I can get the recipe for you if you’d like.
But back to the matter at hand. Everything had gone as per usual. Same drive in, same busy morning, same lunch, same spot. All the same but for that mention of hand dryers. My head was ringing with the though of this peculiar group. How had this become a thing? How seriously did people take it? Reviewing a hand dryer… That could be fun.
So I could not resist popping into the nearest bathroom, which just happened to be the mens disabled. And if ever, dear reader, I was to define a moment in my life as being an epiphany, it would be this moment, the moment I came face to face with a Manrose hand dryer.
It was like taking acid or falling in love. I took in every design detail, I took in the typeface, took a deep breath, took my time drying each hand individually and when all was said and done I took a picture on my phone.
As the photo saved to my camera roll I saw that I was 10 minutes late for my return to work. Sliding back into my chair I received the usual glut of tut-tuts and what-time-do-you-call-this. But these words, for once, they trickled off my back just at the words from my pen trickled onto post-it after post-it whereupon I made real my first ever hand dryer review. It was a review that would be polished on the way home and submitted after dinner that same evening (Sea bass and new potatoes if I recall correctly).
The reaction was huge, over a dozen likes in 12 hours. Staring at my computer screen I sensed that I was leaving my emotional slump and standing at the precipice of a whole new life.
‘How Not to Write a Zine’ will feature in ‘The Collected Works of SLRoHD 2019-2020’ which is slated for release winter 2020.
What are your testing criteria for dryers?
Just like how I always speed up for speed bumps, we at the SLRoHD always anchor our reviews with a note on each dryers design, performance and overall score. It adds consistency and people seem to like it.
However, our writers can get pretty loose with what is supposed to be a rigid format. Finbarr Cooke, knowing full well that he was submitting his review on 16th March and NOT even close to April Fools Day (I could forgive the latter) just went ahead and gave the P+L Systems a ‘thumbs up emoji’/10. “What in the name of God is this?” I said very loudly to the lady sat next to me. And she looked as surprised as I was. But in the end I decided to run it. My thinking was ‘Fuck it, I don’t get paid enough/at all’.
Is there scope for a North London edition?
No. Next question.
But really, what’s wrong with a good old hand towel?
Zip! Honestly, we get asked this a lot and I must remind you that by writing about hand dryers we are stepping out with a rather large/damp umbrella term. For issue two we controversially ran a sketch of the infamous Pimlico Astral Cafe roll towel for the cover.
Ironically that image got us a rather a lot of blowback. Mostly it was emails asking “Wedgley, when are you going to get a real job?” and every time this happened I’d do the same thing – I’d waltz out of the cafe, open the nearest window and bellow into the high street “WHEN YOU LEARN HOW TO WRITE A LETTER.” And it seems to work you know – I haven’t had a friend in years.
What’s going to be the highlight of your coming week?
In ascending order of excitement:
5. Downloading all the latest apps to my brand new iPhone X
4. Getting over the regret of not using this feature in a strategic way to market my project/myself in a way that would be more beneficial to all involved
3. Bolloxing a recipe from the latest Gourmand
2. Hanging out with my girlfriend
1. Editing issue four (sorry Aislinn)
A note on the whole ‘covering my face thing’, I happen to suffer from a very rare and rather embarrassing tropical disease known as imposter syndrome. It’s quite common among the working class, can often be fatal.