Good cop, bad cop in parenting

This is the story that I was trying to relate to my daughter’s father about not taking things personally when you had to be an authority figure at home, but he wasn’t in the right frame of mind*.

When something goes wrong at home, when a child is naughty etc, you can act in one of two ways:

You can be the kind of police officer who when they spot a driver who has just committed a crime, can either pull them over, yell at them to get out of the car, slam them against the bonnet and rage in what seems to be a justified rant;
or, you can pull the person over, ask for their details, give them a fine and then get on with your night.

When it’s your job to be the police officer you can’t afford to take it personally. Expending all that energy and having to deal with the aftermath of the stress hormones and the upsetedness of the little child with whom your angry is just not sustainable.

You choose the type of enforcement that goes on in your family life. I do my best to be police officer that does her job and moves on. I try not to take it personally even when my child slaps me across the face and laughs and laughs. Whether I succeed or not, this is always my intention.


*Our daughter was getting manic and wanted a bath and someone had to chase after her.

Off Life, a new street press publication in Bristol

Now and then it would be nice if life was truly surprising. If someone who had never worked in the art world decided to pursue their dream of getting those doodles they’d been scribbling over the years into a publication for all to love and embrace.

Well it’s not that easy. I was speaking to Daniel Humphry, editor of OFF LIFE, in an email exchange after I asked whether I could send him some questions.

Daniel is editor of the UK’s only street press comic magazine and it is distributed in delis and cafes around Bristol. My copy was from Mud Dock Deli just beyond the M Shed. It’s really rather good. In fact bits of it are genius. Especially one which is not only set in Australia but has Zen in the title and talks about the Buddha’s eightfold path and the four noble truths.

The magazine is new and fresh and it was the first issue and I liked the idea that some random unknown cartoonist made it work after a crowdsourcing campaign on indiegogo. It wasn’t quite like that. Daniel studied journalism and has spent the last six years working in magazines so when it came time to put his own creation into a tangible article he was able to do it very well. As he says, if he hadn’t had that experience he would “have been terrified”.

So here’s a chance to take some advice on how to get your own creation to come to life and find out more about him.

1. Just like you asked Tom Gauld, I’d like to ask you what first drew you to comics?

For me it was just a natural progression from Saturday morning cartoons. Whereas they ended at 9am I could pick up my Beano or Marvel weekly at any time, and as with books there’s more imagination required in ‘reading between the panels’ than there is in sitting back and watching the TV. You almost create your own little story when reading someone rises, if that makes sense.

2. What advice do you have to give to people who want to self-publish their creations? Practical tips are always useful.

Well we’ve done something a bit different in using advertising to fund the magazines and then just giving them away. That was our way of getting our publication, incredible indie talent and the comic medium out there to a new audience. As for how to get an anthology to sell in a comic shop, i couldn’t tell you. But I guess the principals of networking within the industry, finding a good printer, being very critical of anything you produce and being willing to take that big risk all still apply.

3. In the graphic novel industry there seems to be a perception that self-publishing is a normal way to get published. Would you agree and how long did it take you to publish the first edition from concept to delivering physical magazines to Mud Dock deli in Bristol on a Sunday?

In all honesty it took about two months. I quit my job and fortunately already had contacts in the design, printing and press industries that might otherwise have taken months or even years to make. I have to say that we wouldn’t have created anything though without our peers in the comic world kindly lending their support and spreading the word. Thankfully the comic industry is a friendly one!

As for self publishing, it of course has its draw backs and limitations but it does mean that if you have an idea you don’t have to wait for a major publisher to come along and find you. It’s a lot of hard work though!

4. You raised $1170 of your $1700 goal on indiegogo. Is that how much it cost to create the first edition? Is that the way you will fund the second one and do you envisage being able to pay your contributors at some point?

Financing the project far exceeded the indiegogo target – which we were surprised to gain such a response from – but advertising will always be our main revenue stream that funds the project. I don’t think we’ll run another crowd sourcing fund as the goal now has to be becoming self sufficient. As for paying artists, we would have loved to from the start but initially it’s impossible for a start up like ours. We’ve already heard word of OFF LIFE Issue One artists gaining paid commissions off the back of their inclusion in the magazine and that’s out main hope for all artists.

5. Zen for beginners is one of three of my favourites – Loud Neighbour and Doppelganger are up there in the number 1 slot too.

Did your trip to Australia influence your addition of the zen piece? How did Australia influence your creative vision?

The sheer quality of the zen piece was enough to influence its inclusion, but overall my time in Melbourne did inspire the magazine. Their street press culture is incredibly strong and affords very creative, little magazines to explode without the rules or guidance of a major publisher. I think if that model spreads past the music and what’s on genres that currently exist here in the UK (and many are very good!) then it’s good for readers, the publishing trade and creativity in general!

Check out more of OFF LIFE around Bristol and online.

Tuesday Taster: Trying To Be Human by Cheri Huber

Teaser Tuesdays (TT) is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading and I found it from Carly Bennett’s blog. Anyone can join by doing the following:

* Grab the book you are currently reading
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* Please avoid SPOILERS (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away so you don’t ruin the book for others)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their ‘To Be Read’ Lists if they like your teasers.

The book I’m reading right now is Trying to be Human: Zen Talks by Cheri Huber, a student and teacher in the Soto Zen tradition. She is the author of 17 books including There Is Nothing Wrong With You, The Depression Book, Time-Out For Parents and the audio-retreat, Unconditional Self-Acceptance.

The sentences are as follows:

Teaser sentences (p.40): ‘A person who has to have lots is a person who feels that they do not have enough, and yet we will respond to that sense of deprivation in ourselves by denying our need and depriving ourselves further, as punishment. We do not expect starving people to share their food; we understand that when they have had plenty to eat and feel sure there will be plenty to eat in the future, then they can be generous.’

Zen: Restaurant Review

Zen is a Chinese Restaurant located by the Bristol harbourside on Millennium Square. It has been the restaurant of choice for myself, my friends Graeme, Kristine and her husband Andy for the last year or so. Along the way we have discovered a selection of dishes which make up an amazing dinner. Occasionally we will try a new dish or two such as ‘Smacked Cucumber’ or ‘Bang Bang Chicken’ but invariably the core components stay the same.

¼ Crispy duck for a starter, kung po prawns primarily for myself and Kristine, BBQ ribs cooked in a stone pot and egg fried rice for all, and aromatic chilli chicken primarily for Andy and Graeme.

The crispy duck meat is brought to our table as the actual quarter of duck and the waiter then strips it off the bone with a fork before passing it over. Alongside is a dish of sliced cucumbers and spring onions. Only six pancakes are provided and usually the four of us have one each and then share the remaining two. However, on Sunday, we were brought eight after we mentioned we would all be sharing. The duck has so far been ample for all four of us and the quality of the meat is wonderful. I have not had better duck in Bristol yet, definitely not at Cosmo or at Mayflower.

The Kung Po Prawn dish is a fascinating mix of king prawns and vegetables, mostly carrots and crispy things like celery, cut into small pieces and served on a big triangular white dish. The BBQ spare ribs cooked in a stone pot are soft and so tender that the meat falls off the bone as soon as you start eating. The marinated meat is permeated with the flavour and the sticky sauce is also a great accompaniment.

The favourite dish for the guys is the aromatic chilli chicken which consists of cooked dry chillies and small southern fried chicken pieces. By the end of the meal the tears were nearly welling up and they were both slightly perspiring. The dish is spicy with a lemon tang, it is also offered with a warning but this dissuades no one.

The rice is well done and served in small white covered dishes. Two were enough for the four of us. I have yet to try dessert there but I have had a Zen mojito which included some lemongrass with the mint for that oriental twist. The house white wine has consistently been pleasant and the prawn crackers are brought to the table with a chilli dipping sauce.

All in all, Zen is an excellent restaurant with a delicious choice of dishes which are not always your typical Chinese restaurant selections. The Smacked Cucumber was not entirely a success as it was served cold as was the Bang Bang Chicken which left an unpleasant sensation since the fat was still left on the chicken. However, the mixed meats noodles which contains seafood such as squid and prawns is a tasty and fresh tasting selection and the crystal rivers prawn dish has a green tea tinged glaze which is fragrant and unusual enough to be quite tasty.

They currently have an offer through Toptable of 50% off until July 11.

Zen, Unit 4B, 1st Floor, Harbourside, Explore Lane, Bristol BS1 5TY. 0845 371 3888, 0117 920 9372,

Toptable offers: Zen on Millennium Square

Zen, a Chinese restaurant on Millennium Square, provides slightly more unusual, some would say more authentic dishes, than other restaurants. The kitchen at Zen has sourced recipes from over 23 provinces in China to create an extensive traditional menu with a contemporary twist. Some favourite dishes include aromatic chilli chicken, where half the dish consists of cooked dried chillies, crystal river prawns which is a prawn dish with a sauce flavoured by green tea and lovely Peking duck with the usual pancake assortment.

This isn’t a review but more of an attention-grabbing post about an offer through Toptable:

If you book through the site you get 50% off food with the following conditions:

…based on each person having a starter and a main. Offer only applies to diners who book online and is only available at the times stated. Maximum of 12 diners per booking applies to this offer. Excludes shellfish. Includes Vat, excluded service charge.


Mon – Wed: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Sat: 12:00pm – 5:00pm
Sun: 12:00pm – 5:00pm, 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Max people: 12

Ends: 11 July

This is a great opportunity to try a not inexpensive and wonderful restaurant in a great location. Also try the Zen Mojito which is a favourite drink and I must say that even their house white wine has always been quite nice.

Zen, Unit 4B, 1st Floor, Harbourside, Explore Lane, Bristol BS1 5TY. 0845 371 3888, 0117 920 9372,

All the lunches I never had, Bristol

After coffee with the lovely Eleanor today, I wandered around Bristol to run some errands and find something delicious for lunch. We both had Americanos at Bordeaux Quay and then I headed off to Broadmead while she went off on her own way.

I could have had pasta at Bottelino’s but walked on to not have a rocket and crayfish sandwich at Chando’s Deli. No lunch special of two courses and a glass of wine at Brasserie Blanc and no arancini ball at Carluccio’s. No lasagne at £9 at Piccolino’s although the most beautiful green colour of the seating was extremely enticing. I didn’t have a mushroom and cheese panini at Starbucks accompanied by a vanilla soy latte, no rough and ready sandwiches made with home made bread at Sourdough, the new sandwich shop at St Nick’s. No jerk chicken at Caribbean wrap and no Kofta kebab with babaganoush at the Real Olive Company. No lamb sweetbreads or pork, chorizo and clam stew at Source just past Trethowan’s cheese stall. No mezze platter at Big Chill Bristol followed by warmed up pecan pie and no coffee and no panini with haloumi and roast vegetables at Gusto. No smoked salmon and cream cheese sauce on spaghetti at the Watershed (pasta of the day) and no chips at £2.25 from @Bristol cafe. No La Reine pizza at Pizza Express and no king prawns and aromatic crispy duck at Zen. No curly fries at Las Iguanas and no food and non-alcoholic fruit cocktail at the Living Room.

I didn’t even venture up Park St so no soy latte and no bean burger with potato wedges from Boston Tea Party. No amai udon at Wagamamas and definitely no tamarind and chilli pavlova for dessert. No lunch time buffet at Cosmo for £12.50 and no charcuterie platter at Browns. After wandering from a quarter to 12 until almost one thirty to try to find some lunch, I started to get fed up (no ironic pun intended). I couldn’t decide on what, but I wanted something amazing and it occurred to me that whatever I ate it would probably not be as wonderful as the next thing along. Nothing to do but let someone else decide.

So I took home a Caribbean pasty and a feta and spinach triangle from Royce Rolls and I shared them with my housemate who had his lunch at home. Lunch was his choice and accompanied by crisps and four Oreo cookies it all worked beautifully. There is so much from which to choose in Bristol that it can get very tiring. Was a great wander around town though.

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