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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Quiet goodbye from the Quiet Feather

Thank you for visiting the Quiet Feather blog.

The Quiet Feather magazine was a quarterly-ish publication which started up in December 2003. The last issue (Issue 9) came out in summer 2007.

We, the editors - Tim Major, Dominic Hall, Tom Benson and Taissa Csaky - all had a fine old time producing the magazine, reading some awesome contributions, eating a lot of pizza and drinking a lot of tea.

At the time the QF started up we all lived near to one another and had what now seems like luxurious quantities of spare time to devote to the magazine. We're now more widely scattered and ever-busier with other work.

So rather than keep hoping we'll find the time to produce one last issue we've decided to call it a day now. Huge apologies to all those who have contributed over the last year and we wish you all the best with your future writing and artistic projects.

Thanks again for reading.

Taissa, Tim, Dom and Tom

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Who wants to live here?

Anyone lucky enough to be a woman writer over 40 should very quickly run away from this page and have a look at the Hosking Houses Trust site. They're all for the 'Room of One's Own' principle and currently advertising for someone to live in this house and write. It's been done up a touch and has it's own rowing boat. What more could anyone want? Seriously?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Venus Speaks

Venus Speaks cover
It's been a long time since I had that feeling of finding something completely unique in a second hand charity shop. It happened to me recently in Truro. Venus Speaks purports to be the true messages from a scientist on said planet whose name is one the bottom left hand corner of the cover. His revelation was sent through a medium called Cyril Richardson, a mysterious other medium with initials M.T. also seems to have a hand in it, they write in the opening:

"Trance conditions were used with the aid of a trumpet and at the time of writing contact is still being made but only certain information has been allowed for public release."

I have yet to read the whole thing, but I'm quite convinced by it, though their predictions are not always correct:

"Your scientists will build rockets to reach the moon, but they will fall to pieces before they reach there, because of the Cosmic rays."

Monday, May 28, 2007

Issue 9 is here at last!

The all-new Issue 9 is out now, with - for the first time in the long and illustrious history of the Quiet Feather - a COLOUR cover, beautifully illustrated by Miss Ping/Julie McDermott.

This issue is loosely themed around 'Light' and we've got articles covering the darkness of surveillance society, the science of light, flaming tea and the tarnished brilliance of St. Tropez along with the usual wide and wonderful selection of poems, stories, drawings and photos.

Thanks to everyone whose work appears in this issue. We're really, really pleased with it. Contributors' and subscribers' copies will be on their way very shortly.

If you'd like to subscribe, click here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Words words words

Have you ever wondered what the top 90,000 words in English are and what their precise ranking is by frequency of use? Fret no longer. The answers are here.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Slow reader

The other morning, before work, I finished Roger Deakin's book Waterlog, a journal of his swim through the British Isles. It's a book I'd recommend and I'd like to talk about it here, but really what I want to talk about is reading. I find it difficult to know how to finish reading a book. The words just run out and you're left holding a few empty pages and feeling a little lost, a bit like seeing a good friend off on the train after a visit. You will miss the book, miss the company it has given you these last months. Months? Yes, I, like so many others, am a slow reader. I would rather not be but in reality I do little about it and a book will take me about two or three months depending on length. Also, I occasionally yearn to read a really long book and these books usually are my favourite of all books: like Lanark, Moby-Dick, Mason & Dixon. So it has occurred to me is it perhaps the time I spend with these long books that makes them my favourites? Over the months they become friends, time spent with them is time away from lists of things to do, shopping at the 24 hour supermarket and transferring money to and from your bank accounts in a vain attempt to save. Now, this is not to say I don't know what it's like to be gripped by a book and to devour it in a sitting (for me 'The Catcher in the Rye' was the first, I'd not been much of a reader until the age of fifteen when I read it and discovered that a book could actually make you laugh out loud), such times are a delight, but for most people a rare one. So, I have come to quite enjoy my status as a slow reader, it encourages close reading and builds up an intimate relationship with the narrative, but it does make finishing the book a bit of a wrench, I kind of dread it. In Waterlog, you could sense the book coming into its winter period, the nice weather over, only a handful of outdoor swims left before the cold set in. A silver lining of sorts comes in the period between books, a period of time which I thoroughly enjoy, often lasting up to a couple of weeks when yet again all of literature is spread out before you to choose from.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Are you in Cumbria?

From time to time Shoreline Films in Barrow-in-Furness get in touch asking us to pass on details of events and film-making courses they're running. These are usually free or dirt cheap, run by professionals in the industry, and all-in-all A Good Thing - but for the usual funding-related reasons only open to people who live in Cumbria. Now I suspect that most of the people who read this blog live a number of bus stops away from the Cumbrian border so up until now I haven't been to hasty to mention the courses here... but... just in case you're a Cumbrian with a hunger for film-related knowledge this post is for you - go to www.shorelinefilms.co.uk and click on training.

PS - Issue 9 is due back from the printers any day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A tree in springtime (with an eclipse)

How fitting that The Quiet Feather's new Light issue should, roughly, coincide with a lunar eclipse. Unfortunately, I was in too much of a drunken state to truly appreciate the cosmic link. Luckily, the good users of the internet were on hand to document it from every corner of the globe. I particularly liked the above photo. It's not in focus, nor is the eclipse the main thing in it, come to think of it, its pretty much how I remember it.

On a more impressive note, here are some NASA photographs of Saturn, a couple to tantalise you, and for the rest here.

These pictures made me want to see this again:

A London transport advert designed by Man Ray. Which brings us back to light. Man Ray was one of the most innovative and playful of the surrealist photographers and film-makers. Watching his films here made me remember being a film student, sitting at the back trying to ignore all the droning voices and opinions until being transported finally into a surrealist world watching Emak Bakia.

Oh, and when I said that the Quiet Feather light issue would coincide with the lunar eclipse, I was being very approximate. But it is coming, I've seen it on Tim's floor and everything.

Friday, February 09, 2007

No snow

Today I wanted to see this:
But where I live we've had no snow.
I went to the beach and this is what I saw:

Only it was colder. No snow. Where's the fun in that?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Quiet Feather Light

Issue 9 of the Quiet Feather will be out in a couple of weeks. This one's all about light - glowing, gleaming, gorgeous stuff it is too. If you can't wait to read all about it here's a little video clip to pass the time, from someone called lazysod.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Quiet Feather Internet Presence Widens

That's right. We have a myspace. Finally. Like everyone else. And despite there being very little up there at the moment, we already have 29 friends! So join us if you want to receive regular bulletins, calls for submissions, and up to the minute news about the hotly anticipated redesign.
Be our friend here: www.myspace.com/thequietfeather

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Send us your work

Last night we had our first content meeting for the next magazine. The mag, the exciting first edition of our new redesigned, bigger and better QF is looking good and we have some great content already but there is still space for more contributions.
The next issue will be themed very loosely around light - so however tangentally we'd particularly like some more short fiction, some pieces of non-fiction and some photographs. If you have something you'd like to see in print (even not in these catagories or related to light) please get them in asap.
What better way to spend some of your Christmas break than getting some of your work in the QF whilst munching mince pies and mulling over your wine. The sooner the better is the deadline - certainly before the New Year - so get cracking...(all submissions can be made online via the website www.thequietfeather.co.uk)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Phew Tube

I was on the tube the other day and after a long day at a course wasn't entirely excited by the soothing rhythmic clattering of the tube being broken by broken English. "I from hungary. I want to collect few pence to sell the Big Issue". It wasn't the broken-ness of the English you understand - nor the requirement of a few pence - it was the fear of how we would be persuaded to part with the pence. The speaker was dressed in an outfit of leather shorts and straps which frankly looked more suitable to late night TV than early evening tube. But on closer inspection the means of extortion became clear and only seconds later the brave soul was rambling his way through a new interpretation of 'Oh Danny Boy' (I think) - performed on the pan pipes. My closest neighbour, a greying fifty something dressed in a suit looked disgustedly over his glasses throughout the entire piece, steam apparently pouring from his ears, ire rising. As the music thankfully ended the guilty 'musician' moved down the carriage collecting money - I feared a confrontation. My neighbour certainly didn't look happy. In a broad Scottish accent he addressed the man. "You do realise that was an utter load of crap" he ranted, but as he said this he was already dipping into his pocket, fishing out no less than a gold pound nugget and handing it over - somehow my faith in humanity was restored.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Polar bears

When I heard that artists Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir and Mark Wilson had been documenting taxidermic polar bears to be found in British museums I immediately wondered if they'd discovered the one in Kendal museum. As a Kendalian born and bred, this bear, along with many of the other exhibits, has haunted my imagination since my earliest school trips. Kendal museum is a typical small town museum, with a vast wing devoted to exotic stuffed animals and a section on local flora and fauna, including a glass topped cabinet where you look down on a baby deer all curled up, and a roadside scene complete with Eighties litter. The thing to bear in mind, is that the permanent exhibits at this museum have never changed, at least in the twenty years I've been going. Oh, and when you do visit Kendal museum, cross over the road onto the industrial estate opposite and visit the Age Concern warehouse, it's how junk shops used to be.
Nanoq: flat out and bluesome
Kendal Museum

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Not funny

This really isn't all that funny, but every time I look at it I can't help being amused.

Mr Citymen

I've recently become hooked on Eric Lerner's Mr Citymen videos, featuring often desperately sad Mr Men figures wandering around city blocks in grainy camcorder-vision.
In particular, office-bound Mr Deja Vu strikes a chord right now, as deadlines start to overwhelm me at work.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Here we are at Kendal Mountain Film Festival

My don't we look like a jolly bunch. The near hysteria on our faces is partly the result of eating quantities of licorice and aniseed flavour Fox's Glacier not-mints. We were also pushing the sweets on the General Public. They had to put their wrappers into one of three bowls and vote for their favourite Lake District hill from an entirely unscientifically selected shortlist of three: Helvellyn, Haystacks and Harrison Stickle. And the winner was... Harrison Stickle. That's because it's got an easy-but-exciting scramble and you can see 360 deg. from the top - in other words, the view's great. Congratulations Mr. Stickle.

Medieval justice

Our friend Alice takes an interest in medieval history. She sent us this: "In German trials by combat, women didn’t get champions to fight for them. They had to fight the duel themselves, but their male opponent had to stand in a pit.
Like this…" Click here to see the picture.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Snow leopards rock

Ever since 2001 when I went on a Biosphere Expeditions trip to Bieszczady in south east Poland I've thought wolves were best. I spent two weeks tramping round the forest in snowshoes, following wolf tracks and picking up wolf shit - I'm not sure I've ever enjoyed myself more. Reading Tessa McGregor's piece in our new issue makes me wonder if snow leopards are also best... Find out more about snowleopards at www.snowleopard.org.

Quiet Feather Issue 8 - the mountain issue!

The latest issue of the Quiet Feather has come over all mountainous to coincide with the Kendal Mountain Festival. Inside you'll find an interview with mountain man Chris Bonington, articles on the fragile existence of Altai snow leopards, the addictive terrors of climbing, and an Austin 7 race on Skiddaw, and the usual extraordinary Quiet Feather pick and mix of poetry, short stories and illustration. The little dogs are back too.

Cover image by Lee May. Find out more and see her gorgeous t-shirts at www.bonbiforest.com.

Exciting Times at the Quiet Feather

We are very pleased to announce that we have been granted funding from the Arts Council. They are supporting us in a project to develop the magazine and its distribution. Hopefully this will mean a bigger and better magazine for our readers and the opportunity to expand our readership by getting the Quiet Feather into bookshops etc. So we are currently excitedly working on a redesign of the magazine. But we are very aware that there is a baby in our bath water... we want to keep the things that make the Quiet Feather unique - just do what we do, but better... so we'd love to hear your thoughts - what would you think if we went colour, changed format, got bigger, got smaller, were all in red, in blue, every second word was printed upside down, or the whole magazine was contained on a microdot which you could swallow and absorb the content on slow release over the coming months... OK - you see we are in need of some guidence - so comment on this post or email us via the website (http://www.thequietfeather.co.uk/contact.htm) and let us know what you think about the mag - how would you like to see it develop, what elements should stay, what go? And those of you reading the blog who haven't got the mag yet - get it and tell your friends to get to the blog and on the website - things are happening at the QF - be there or be - not involved in the things that are happening...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Indecisive moments

Following on from the last post, I find that the emergence of camera phones has vastly increased my chances of capturing those "decisive moments" as Cartier-Bresson would have called them. For instance, I now take a lot more pictures at work, where previously I would never remember to bring a camera. Here are three of my favourites, I'm not claiming to be a photo reportage genius here, they are more indecisive moments than decisive, but I'm glad they're not just in my head.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

There was an old lady

It's easy to be overwhelmed with internet, one click buy, throw away, shop or die commercialism. But the other day as I walked through the bustling market day of sleepy Ulverston I was struck by a beautiful photographic image. Unfortunately I didn't have a camera to capture it with - so I'll try here. In my mind's eye the scene is now in faded black and white. An old lady in pencilskirted black and white plaid. A grey sky, lighter grey buildings. The only colour is pink... a bright pink slipper on the lady's right foot. It's from the market, she's trying it on for size - but being a lady of more frugal times she's not one click bought, she's not going to give it a whirl, try and return it. Not going to buy it and chuck it away and get another. She's testing it carefully. So she's shuffling, grey shoe on one foot, glowing pink fluff on the other. And below the fluff the upturned lid of a resplendant white shoe box which she is shuffling along awkwardly under the slipper, protecting its mesmerising pink sheen and impossible fluffiness... protecting the slipper, lest it doesn't fit.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Japan, apparently


This clip was simply headed 'Japan'. It has to be the most wonderfully satisfying thing ever to come out of youtube. I mean it. This is what we should be teaching our children to do in schools, quite frankly.
via Willesden Herald

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


This collection of Eastern European matchbox covers made Taissa feel faint with happiness.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Iron & steam & blood

"Jasper Morello and the Lost Airship” is the first (and currently, only) part of “The Mysterious Geographic Expeditions of Jasper Morello”, and you must see it. It’s a pretty harrowing adventure of monsters and steam-driven Victorian airships, and features a strange mix of CGI modeling and Japanese-style shadow puppets by Australian Anthony Lucas… and it’s just beautiful. It’s shockingly dark and adult, which seems a brave step for an Oscar-contender animation. I just can’t wait for the rest of the trilogy and the rumoured feature film.
The formal voiceover also gives us good preparation for the Jules Verne-themed weekend party we’re attending in December.
See the trailer here.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


RUSSIA. Altai Territory. 2000. Villagers collecting scrap from a crashed spacecraft, surrounded by thousands of white butterflies.

"Satellites" is a photographic journey through the scattered enclaves, unrecognized mini-states, and other isolated communities that straddle the southern borderlands of the former USSR. The itinerary goes through places such as Transdniester, a breakaway republic in Eastern Europe, Abkhazia, an unrecognized country on the Black Sea, the religiously conservative Ferghana Valley in Central Asia, the spacecraft crash zones between Russia and Kazakhstan, and the Jewish Autonomous Region of Far Eastern Russia.

It may seem silly, but I think that part of the reason I so love the image above is that it reminds me of the light and landscapes in Princess Mononoke:

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Google maps

Australian Device Makes Maps Of the Ground It Covers
The odd apparatus at left is the Australian “co-graph,” which automatically maps the ground over which it moves. Named for its inventor, Lt. Col. H. J. F. Coe, the machine can be operated by a pedestrian or set up in a trailer (PSM, Dec. ‘44, p. 134). The co-graph obtains direction by being oriented with a sensitive compass; gets distance from a calibrated ground wheel. Drive from the wheel turns a paper-carrying roller under a fixed pencil, and thus a course is plotted to scale. The co-graph’s upper part —sighting tube, compass, mirror, and map-making equipment—weighs only 10 pounds and is strapped to the user’s body.

Via Modern Mechanix.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

We are flattered...

...to find ourselves mentioned in the distinguished pages of the Rialto (www.therialto.co.uk):

"Cornerhouse Arts Centre in Manchester has an excellent bookshop: I came home with copies of two Little Magazines, firmly of the great tradition. One, the Orphan Leaf Review, carefully evocative of the sixties, with uneven sized pages and that air of having been photocopied and stapled together by amateurs - definitely collectable, www.orphanleaf.co.uk: the other, the Quiet Feather, slightly swisher but also desirable, www.thequietfeather.co.uk - they, in addition, have, or had, a blog. Both, if not actually on the edge, give the impression that they know there is such a thing and that it is worth looking for."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Valentino the Robot

If you enjoyed Valentino the Robot's page in Issue 7 of the Quiet Feather, maybe you'd like to visit him at home.


In Issue 7, what links Miss Ping's drawing and Grant Perry's poem I was a glassblower? Click here to find out.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Panic Hotel

James Farrell's story Panic Hotel is great. We were only able to include the opening paragraphs in the Quiet Feather. For your further reading pleasure, read the whole damn thing here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

QF7, finally

Issue 7 is out now! It's another splendid mishmash: Yeti-hunting and coyotes, a milkman and a lovesick robot, flotsam and randomness, 9th century Japanese civil engineering and email spam, tiny tiny dogs and new carpets.
See sample pages or buy it here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A history of speech

Andy's illustrated history of the evolution of speechballoons from the 15th Century onwards is fantastic.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Issue 7... soon...

We'd like to apologise to all our subscribers. We're so, so sorry for being so shamefully late with Issue 7. Anyone who keeps track of this kind of thing will
realise that we are several weeks overdue. Apologies to everyone who sent submissions in too - you've been waiting for an unreasonably long time now.

There's no good excuse for this but I'd like to offer a few excuses in any case.

Dom's been in Oman counting leopards.

Even now, Tim's in the USA investigating the intricate mysteries of the California state education system.

As for me: in January I was training for a half marathon; in February I was getting intensely stressed as my computer died in fits and starts and all my freelance deadlines zoomed past me at warp speed, unfulfilled; in March I was getting very cold doing front of house for a show in a circus tent in a snowy field; finally I felt very tired and collapsed in puddle of influenza B. I didn't have the excuse of being away though.

But now it's April and all across the Cumbrian hillsides those damned daffodils are nodding their heads in crazy unison - yes Issue 7 is on its way, yes Issue 7 is on its way, yes Issue 7 is on its way . No romantic revelations in 2006, just a plant's promise that there will be an Issue 7 soon. And no more excuses.

Friday, March 31, 2006


My favourite person of the day is Jared Tarbell. In his own words: I write computer programs to create graphic images. With an algorithmic goal in mind, I manipulate the work by finely crafting the semantics of each program. Specific results are pursued, although occasionally surprising discoveries are made.Some of them look like they've been created by an obsessive Spirograph nut. But my favourites are the crystals on a computational substrate, that look like birds-eye views of enormous cityscapes. Click here for more.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

QF 6

QF Issue 6 has arrived! Hot-air ballooning and horses, love and death, googling and getting back to nature. Fiction, cartoons, poetry, photos, essays. You'll love it. Really you will.
See sample pages or buy it here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Beach walks

Most weeks I walk my dogs on an estuary beach near my house. I've seen all sorts of birds there, and once a gigantic purple jellyfish. Today I found a harbour porpoise - sadly dead, but still quite beautiful. It followed fish (salmon probably) up the estuary and got stranded when the tide went out. Better than being caught in a trawler net, I suppose.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The funny way I feel inside

I rested my forehead against the cold chromium rail in front so I could hear what the cute pixie girl was saying.
"I could never go out with a boy who didn’t love, love, love the sound of rain," she told her mate. "That’s a real deal-breaker for me."
Later that week it was really hammering down so I followed her into a bus-shelter. I threw my head back and closed my eyes. I stretched my fingers like a pianist. I hummed and rolled my head from side to side.
But when I opened my eyes she’d gone.
I stayed there listening to the pulsing of the drops. If there was ever an overrated sound, it’s the sound of rain. It’s not even actually the sound of rain. Rain itself doesn’t make a sound. What you hear is a much more complex phenomenon, more intricate than she could ever imagine.
By David Gaffney, featured in several QFs, and hopefully more soon.

Friday, December 02, 2005


There are two things that are currently making my day. The first is this picture: The second is this word:
Mamihlapinatapai (from Tierra del Fuego). A look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that neither one wants to start.

p 4 c 4 adults

I went to a conference last week about using outdoor education as a tool to teach children about social justice. There were interesting ideas about activities to get kids thinking about the effects that their actions have on others around the globe.
Anyway - one of the activities was called philosophy for children (p4c of course). This involved the children (or in this case adult delegates) coming up with philosophical questions to discuss, following an exercise on global inequalities. Lots of questions were suggested covering issues such as how can we encourage global cooperation, how can we develop social justice in an unequal world. However when it came to the vote to decide which question to discuss, the one selected was none of these but instead, 'is it right for people to use outdoor education to promote their belief systems regarding an issue such as social justice'. A good question no doubt. An interesting debate for sure. But it interested me that given a group of people with a belief in social justice, and the opportunity to discuss and maybe even in their own way have some small influence on it we turned in on ourselves and chose instead to discuss whether we had the right to discuss these things. I wondered if amongst socially responsible moral people there would always be this self doubt when positive action is required. Armed with this new philosphical question I wandered off into a corner to have good think about it.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Monday morning rant...

So yesterday Tim and I spent hours and hours fiddling with this site. And getting very excited at unravelling the laughable simplicity of html.
It turns out to be lots of abbreviations. I thought I would have to write in noughts and ones or something. Frankly, if all they're going to do is abbreviate words that were perfectly functional in the first place (li for line etc.) they might as well have used the whole word and there would be no need to learn another so-called 'language'.
Of course I'm sure there are reasons why that wouldn't work. And clearly I've only scraped the surface of the potential complexities of doing things with html. But so far I am encouraged. AND SCORNFUL.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Jeff Lewis

This image is taken from a special cartoon interview with Jeffrey Lewis - see the whole article in QF 6.
See here for more on the great man.

World's Greatest

QF Issue 6 introduces a new regular feature: World's Greatest.
This issue features the World's Greatest Inventions. For Issue 7 we’re looking for your thoughts, rants and cool objective comment on the World’s Greatest Food. Please keep it snappy: World’s Greatests should be 100 words or less. Send yours to editors@thequietfeather.co.uk.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Priceless rubbish

Believe it or not, this is one of Tim's most valued possessions. We took pictures of our priceless tat and printed them in QF6.

Choose life

If Susan Frome's QF6 article on Thoreau makes you want to quit your job and do something altogether more exciting, this article should seal the deal.

Friday, November 25, 2005

You scratch our back

More weblinks to QF Issue 6 contributors:
Nathan Penlington – stand-up poet
Stephen J Dines – short stories

Pamela Wyn Shannon

Pamela Wyn Shannon: "As an earthwork artist, I focus on ephemeral creations and ritual communications with nature. Also finding abandoned objects or spaces and resuscitating them with life, function, sacredness and meaning. As an artist one often seeks to reconnect with what has been discarded and neglected by society.
See QF6 or click here for more.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

One Neck Hates You

Another QF6 contributor. Cartoons by Edinburgh-based One Neck Hates You make my head hurt.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Medieval weekend

Taissa organised a medieval banqueting and costumed mystery-weekend in the Lake District.
Tim made himself some authentic boots and spent the weekend admiring his feet.