0117 972 0645

Welcome to Tangent Books, Bristol's leading independent publisher

Tangent Books Blog

  • The Bristol Booze Odyssey: A leisurely descent into some independent proper pubby pubs on a budget

    Tony Bolger is Tangent's guest blogger for the next couple of months and his chosen subject is Bristol Pubs – Cheap Ones With Very Few Frills.

    Do join in and post your thoughts and reviews. Over to you Tony…

    I've lived in Bristol for two years but still feel slightly lost most of the time. People tend to give directions using pubs and bars as landmarks so you’ll inevitably hear “Turn right at The Lager Hole. It used to be The Booze Bucket.”

    You see, bars in Bristol are constantly changing hands, names and personalities to become ever more pretentious and expensive gastro/frappé-fusion/crafty copies of each other. But there are still proper pubs out there that haven’t changed hands, prices or their hoover bag since the last time England won The World Cup. I’m going to get a tetanus shot and I’m going to find these pubs. If you’re tired of paying £6 for a chocolate stout and eating haloumi off a kitchen floor tile in a place with all the charm of a Maccy Dees, I invite you to join me on this Bristol Booze Odyssey. Hopefully the sessions won’t be as dramatic as the title.

    The first stop on this tipple voyage is The Mardyke across the road from the Grain Barge on Hotwell Road along the harbour. The Mardyke is by all accounts a Bristol institution. Established in 1820 under the name the Cross Keys. Apparently, it used to be a biker bar. We shall see what it is now.

    We step inside out of the cold and into 1952. The room is silent. There’s a real “Ya ain’t from round here, are ya boy?” vibe. Then, in wonderfully unfortunate timing, one of the locals gets a text message and his ring tone is that iconic Sergio Leone cowboy music that plays whenever Clint Eastwoodmoseys into town. DO DO DO WAW WAW WAW. The décor is what I would describe as brown which must be handy for cleaning. There’s pictures of random old kings and queens getting married, Winston Churchill and a creepy little girl who was probably a ghost the whole time on the walls. There’s a sign above the bar warning:


    Then Abba comes on the jukebox and we know everything is going to be OK. We proceed to mosey up to the bar where the very friendly barkeep greets us with a smile. He isn’t a disenchanted goth whose acting career didn’t work out, so the customer service is really excellent. Making a quick assessment of the bar, I notice the wide selection of cans in the fridge and unusual array of bottles on the optics. I’d never seen apple sours or Pernod upside down before. I order three pints of Fosters. The barman charges me £6.90. First, I think he’s misspoke. Then I’m positive we have indeed accidentally travelled back through time but Abba’s still on, our beers are wet and our glasses are clean, so we proceed to sit on the brown church pew style benches and listen to Fernando.

    Out of curiosity more than necessity, I went to investigate the men’s room. It was perfectly serviceable though I was surprised and charmed to see the old-fashioned toilet with the pull-down chain but although this alcoholic endeavour is technically a stab at investigative journalism, I’m no Ross Kemp and there was no way I was washing my hands with the crusty bar of soap on the sink.

    While you’re drinking your two espresso martinis for a tenner and listening to whatever audio poison is infecting the Top 40 on Spotify this week, you could really be anywhere but at The Mardyke, you know you’re in Bristol which is exactly what we wanted all along, isn’t it? This is a quaint, authentic, proper pub with proper, manly locals who are happy to ignore you as long as you like 1970s Eurovision bangers. You should check it out and if you have any pubby pub recommendations or would like to submit a pubby pub review of your own, please do get in touch.

  • Tangent Books at The Letterpress Collective

    Last week we got to have a play around with print at The Letterpress Collective, learning to set lead type, wood lettering and learn about the printing process (or experiment for those of us who have over 25 year's worth of experience of working in print, ahem Richard). We had a brilliant time playing on the little hobby presses as well as the bigger roller presses: also seeing a working Heidlberg is a sight to behold!

    All this was part of an exploration for a new print project at Tangent, so keep your eyes peeled for more collaborations with The Letterpress Collective: we're looking forward to working with them more in the future!

    Thanks so much to the wonderful Nick and Ellen for a brilliant workshop!

  • The Naked Guide to Change

    As a full-time student, funds are understandably low in the Lacey-Williams home. It was my fiancé’s 30th this year and not being able to buy her the moon and stars to mark the occasion I did the next best thing. I promised her the moon and stars. Let me make that a bit clearer. I created 30 promises that are fun, local and most importantly, cheap (or better yet; free). Using Tangent’s flagship publication, The Naked Guide to Bristol, I highlighted some of Bristol’s quirkier activities on the grounds that if The Guide… says it’s good, we’ll go for it.

    Once I’d given Simone the 30 promises, we browsed through The Guideto determine what she’d like to do first. But as we scanned the pages a problem became apparent. I was working from the first edition of The Guide, Tangent is currently on its updated fifth edition. Undaunted, we set out to find out what has changed between the first and fifth editions in this ever-evolving city.

    Thankfully, there are a decent few stalwarts that haven’t changed at all between the two editions. The Clifton Suspension Bridge is one of the world’s most identifiable landmarks, and having celebrated its 150th year in 2014 with one of the most impressive fireworks displays we’ve ever witnessed, it’s safe to say that promise no.3 (A Walk to the Suspension Bridge) is a solid given.

    If one promise was to have changed then surely it was going to be no.28, the free trail found in the ‘Children’s Bristol’ section of The Guide. My first edition suggests beginning at the Windmill Hill City Farm for “a hearty Farm Breakfast and a mug of tea”. The City Farm was established in 1976 and has been growing since its roots were first laid in Bedminster. So far so good. From there, says The Guide, we should go to St Mary Redcliffe Church to “find the Church Cat’s grave and the tramline embedded in the grass from a World War Two air raid”.

    From there it’s on to the Industrial Museum… wait, the what? Judging by the map, we soon deciphered that where we were meant to be going was in fact The M Shed. Two years after the publication of the first edition of The Guide, the Industrial Museum closed and was replaced with what we now know as the M Shed which opened in 2011. Confusion over. Promise No. 28 is still on.

    After wandering around the Millennium Square Fountains, admiring Bristol Cathedral, we battle the incline of Park Street to head to Bristol Museum and then on to our final destination, Cabot Tower. This Bristol landmark holds a very special place in our hearts as it happens. It was here that I proposed last December (and she said yes). The vista from the top of the tower offers a breath-taking panoramic view of the city and its harbourside, made even more poignant to us due to that pivotal afternoon.

    Not all the promises included dragging Simone around the city. Some of them involved food and/or drink. The first edition of The Guide recommends The Argus Fish Bar on West Street in Bedminster. Ideal for promise no. 16; A Chippy Dinner. Unsure whether the place was still going, a quick search online and our concerns were unnecessary. The Argus is still going strong and according to one site and its reviewers, it is quite possibly the best fish and chips in Bristol. Promise no. 16 is secure.

    Simone and I reside in the BS7 area of Bristol, so a lot of the promises are things to do ‘South of the River’ so we can explore the other side of the city. But not wanting to exclude Gloucester Road, I included a promise to go to our favourite Italian, Di Meo (no.7, A Tastecard Meal). Gloucester Road has understandably changed in the 12 years since The Guide was first published, but not to such drastic lengths that it would be unrecognisable from that first edition. Famed for having “more charity shops per square metre than anywhere else in the Southwest”, Glossy Road is still “a mish-mash of trendy bars, spit-and-sawdust pubs, chic restaurants and cheap cafes”.

    Whilst taking a mental note of just how many charity shops there were per square metre I also couldn’t help but notice how many beauty salons/hairdressers/barbers there are. Just walking from the junction that leads to Bristol Memorial Stadium, past the Tinto Lounge, down Pigsty Hill, past the pop up Christmas bar outside Nailsea Electrics (really), down where to The Plantation used to be until you reach the Cat and Wheel at the famous Arches, there are currently 22 hairdressers/barbers. I guess everyone deserves to look their best as they push their trollies around one of the three Co-ops.

    To conclude, of the initial 30 promises I made, most were safe and secure in respect to the newest edition of The Naked Guide to Bristol. Some may have changed slightly, such as the trail, but change isn’t necessarily a bad thing - no. 9; A Walk to Snuff Mills, which might I add, does not have the worst toilets in Britain any more. I even commented on how nice the toilets were before I found out about their dirty past.

    Bristol is a city that is forever changing. Next time you climb the steps to the top of Cabot Tower and look at the Bristol skyline, just count how many cranes dot the landscape and you’ll see just how much change is indeed, a constant to Bristol.

    David Williams

  • Brand New Book from Ultramarathon Runner Ira Rainey

    Tangent Books is delighted to announce that we're publishing the second book by award-winning author Ira Rainey!

    Ira's previous book Fat Man to Green Man: From Unfit to Ultramarathon told the tale of his transformation from unfit forty-something to super fit ultrarunner.

    Fat Man to Green Man: Unfit to Ultramarathon

    "Far from being an elite athlete with superhuman running abilities like the ones he read about in books, Ira Rainey was an overweight and unfit slacker who felt a bit sorry for himself because he had sore feet. That was until a friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given months to live. It was to be an event that would push Ira to tackle his apathy towards life and take on the challenge of becoming an ultramarathon runner, pushing himself to go further than he had ever gone before."

    His latest book Still Not Bionic: Adventures in Unremarkable Ultrarunning, focuses on the mental aspect of ultrarunning. It is an honest and moving look at how important mental state, support, and friendship are, not just to running long distances, but to life and happiness as a whole.

    Still Not Bionic: Adventures in Unremarkable Ultrarunning by Ira Rainey

    Still Not Bionic has been nominated for The 2017 Running Award, if you like what you read vote for Still Not Bionic here!

    You can pre-order your copy now, and it'll arrive before Christmas!

  • Radiohead and Glastonbury Festival Myths and Legends

    Is it too early to begin talking about Glastonbury Festival 2017? The tickets have sold out, so why not let the rumours begin? As soon as one festival ends, the headline conversations begin regarding who will take the top slot the following year.

    Such speculation has given rise to the many myths and legends that accompanied Glastonbury since its inception in 1970 .

    Bristol-based freelance writer, editor and lecturer, Marc Leverton, a seasoned festival-goer and rumour-gatherer, has collected some of the more preposterous tales from over the years in his Tangent publication, Glastonbury Festival Myths and Legends The tales include the time that the press tent rushed en masse to witness the Wu Tang Clan perform with Morrissey (they didn’t9781906477868), or when Suzanne Vega wore a bulletproof vest in defiance of a death threat.

    Radiohead having been confirmed as the first Glastonbury 2017 headliner may seem uncontroversial, but this scenario hasn’t always been the case. For example, in Myths & Legends, Marc tells of the time that New Order were favoured over hippy legends, Hawkwind. Displeased with the choice of headline act, a group of bikers decided to ride through the audience to the front of the stage and revved their bikes throughout the terrified Mancunian’s entire set.

    From the organised chaos that is Shangri-La and the travellers field that preceded it, to the weird and wonderful riders of the festivals headliners, Marc covers the rumours that have circulated over the decades such as the one about the guy who parachuted into the festival… or did he?

    Emily Eavis has been quoted stating that “90% of the acts have been booked, with two years’ worth of music crammed into one to make up for 2018’s fallow year”. So with Radiohead confirmed as the headline act for the Friday night, who will take the Saturday and Sunday slots? Here’s the NME’s predictions for some the possible contenders:

    • Guns N’ Roses 4/6
    • Kasabian 6/4
    • The Stone Roses 4/1
    • Ed Sheeran 4/1
    • Foo Fighters 5/4
    • Rhianna 6/1
    • Lady Gaga 16/1
    • Gorillaz 9/1
    • Daft Punk 9/1

    David Williams

    David is currently a full-time student at UWE studying English with Writing. He's using his time here to help create blog posts of interest to discerning punters, as well as honing his writing skills. Not sure what the future holds, so long as it involves words.


  • Bristol MP is Unsettled by Homelessness Bill

    When Bristol West MP Thangham Debbonaire recently made an impassioned speech during the second reading of the Homelessness Reduction Bill, she reminded the House of Commons that homelessness is about real people, not just numbers.

    ‘Underneath the numbers, every one is an individual in an impossible situation, a person, cold and frightened, who has been let down or got into a mess and does not know how to get out,’ said Debbonaire during her attack on government policy which she claims has led to a sharp rise in homelessness.

    The speech reminded us of Graham Walker’s book Unsettled which Tangent published almost 10 years ago. It’s one of the most revealing insights into homelessness that most readers will ever experience.

    Unsettled, a book on homelessness by Big Issue seller Graham Walker Unsettled: In a Hole, Climbed a Mountain by Graham Walker.

    Graham has been homeless most of his adult life. His story is a journey from the very bottom to self-accomplished heights. Unsettled is a powerful book that will have the reader laughing and crying in equal measure and ultimately begs the questions; what is a home and what does it mean to be homeless? Does living in temporary housing indicate that that person is homeless? Does being in danger of losing your home classify as being pre-homeless? Or do the bailiffs need to have already visited?

    As is often said; you’re only ever three payslips away from being homeless in today’s climate. So with everyone on the precipice of homelessness, it’s important to remember that it could happen to any of us.

    Most people who are concerned about the homeless (including Thangham Debbonaire) would consider themselves to be sympathetic to rough sleepers. But Graham makes the point that we all stereotype homeless people, particularly when we see a figure huddled in a sleeping bag in a shop doorway.

    We probably see a drug user or someone with addiction and mental health problems, we don’t see a mother, a father, a son or daughter or someone with a sharp sense of humour or a particular talent for drawing, writing, or perhaps cooking.

    Unsettled is an entertaining and educational book and it’s also a very moving story. Graham’s experiences as a homeless person and Big Issue seller make a real impact on the way in which people think about homelessness, particularly young people.

    Here’s what one Primary School pupil from Newton Abbot said about Unsettled after Graham visited his school to give a talk: “Thank you for showing us not to take the piss out of homeless people and we now realise that homeless people are there for a reason and not just there because they want to lounge around, be lazy and claim on benefits…”

    Unsettled - book written by homeless author Graham Walker Comments in a letter by a primary school pupil

    David Williams

    David is currently a full-time student at UWE studying English with Writing. He's using his time here to help create blog posts of interest to discerning punters, as well as honing his writing skills. Not sure what the future holds, so long as it involves words.

  • Launch of 93 year old Poet Ray Webber's Debut Collection!

    We are delighted to announce the launch of Ray Webber's debut poetry collection, proudly published by Tangent Books this September!

    Join us for a glass of wine to celebrate the launch of this astonishing collection:

    Arnolfini Bookshop

    Thurs 15th September


    Ray Webber Launch Invite at Arnolfini

    RSVP: richard@tangentbooks.co.uk

    Ray Webber is a 93 year old poet, born and bred in Bristol, who first started writing poetry in 1946, in his final year in the army. Heavily influenced by T. S. Eliot, Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery and other New York School poets, Webber's poetry defies conventional lyric expectations to take on a voice and form that is entirely his own.

    Over the years, Webber’s work has been recognised by many academics and fellow poets as being of the highest quality, but he has always shunned publicity. The poems in this volume have never before been published.

    Critical Responses:

    'What a fierce sense of energy, vitriol and devilish laughter. Webber’s verse crackles with acerbic energy and political rage.'

    --Andrew F Giles

    'Webber's poetry has a richness of time, place and experience. It feels highly relevant to our politicised times.'

    --Dr Edson Burton

  • Some Musings on Banksy, Online Publishing and Apps

    Thanks for all your shares and comments about the Banksy Bristol Trail app. I’m Richard Jones, the publisher at Tangent Books and I wrote, rewrote and edited most of the text for the app. I’d like to tell you a little bit more about the app and also to focus on the comments here and on the Bristol 24/7 page commenting that the app should be free.

    New Banksy at Bridge Farm Primary School New Banksy at Bridge Farm Primary School

    About 10 years ago, I commissioned Steve Wright (who was then Venue magazine’s art editor) to write a book about Banksy. Mark Simmons and Pete Maginnis provided a lot of the pictures and we were also sent shots by Banksy fans and people who worked with him and given permission to use them.

    Steve did a brilliant job and Banksy’s Bristol: Home Sweet Home was an immediate success. A lot of the money from sales went into funding other projects such as Children of the Can, Bristol Black and White, Art & Sound of the Bristol Underground, Wild Dayz and others which wouldn’t have been commercially viable without the revenue from Banksy’s Bristol.

    Banksy's Bristol: Home Sweet Home, now in its 4th edition. Banksy's Bristol: Home Sweet Home.

    Banksy’s Bristol is now in its fourth edition and continues to sell well, though nowhere near as well as in that first year or so.

    It was in this climate that we decided to explore transforming the book into an app. I’ve worked with Jon Rolfe at Cactus for many years – we co-published my first book in 1992, Court in the Act: A History of the Ashton Court Free Festival 1974-1992 – and over the last few years Jon has developed an app engine based on map locations.

    Banksy's Bristol, the app Banksy's Bristol, the app

    We’ve got three apps on the go, Banksy, Bristol Cider Trail and the Treasure Island Trail. Cider and Treasure Island are being upgraded and Banksy is being converted to Android.

    The plan is that Cactus provides the technical expertise and Tangent provides the content. That content is original and has been written by professional authors who are paid for their work. We are confident that a combination of the technical expertise provided by Cactus and the writing excellence from Tangent will make the apps great purchases. Several people have commented that they expect the apps to be free. I’m sure that these people don’t expect their food or clothes to be free and they certainly don’t work for nothing.

    The payment goes a small way to covering the production and writing costs. Yet still people expect digital content for free. This raises an interesting point and highlights a dilemma that became apparent in the mid 90s when magazines and newspapers began to move their articles and pictures onto the internet and those finely crafted bon mots and expertly constructed photographs became known as ‘content’.

    I was working for Future Publishing at the time as the editor of Total Football magazine and Managing Editor of The Official Manchester United Magazine, Glory Glory Man United and The Official Chelsea Magazine, so I observed the birth of internet publishing at very close quarters and quickly became aware of the threats, opportunities and the internal power struggles between on and offline publishers and advertising executives. There was an absolute lack of any coherent philosophy about the direction of online publishing and the consequences for traditional magazine and newspaper publishing.

    Total Football Cover Total Football Cover

    At Future we were always told that a magazine is just two things.

    1. Brand
    1. Content

    Virtually overnight editors were expected to give their content to the online teams so that they could use it free-of-charge on the internet. We had given away 50 per cent of our unique selling point.

    TotalFootball.com had its own sales and marketing teams and it’s own editorial team. The problem was that the print magazine had developed a very strong brand as an intelligent fans’ mag. We weren’t too laddish but were certainly heavily influenced by the brilliant magazine editor James Brown and the Loaded phenomenon.

    Over a number of years we had clearly established our brand as being for the football fan who enjoyed the culture of football (the pies, the folklore, the rivalry, the stats) as much as they enjoyed the game itself. Total Football identified with this sort of fan regardless of their sex, colour creed, age or race.

    Incidentally, at the time Future was owned by Pearson whose chief executive Marjorie Scardino said in a major interview that her favourite magazines were Total Football and The Economist – Marge is a Nottingham Forest Fan, as is former Justice Minister Ken Clarke and James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers.

    The editorial team at TotalFootball.com were perfectly pleasant people, some of them were football fans but they were mainly there because of their expertise in building and maintaining websites. They didn’t understand why Total Football magazine ran surveys to find the best pie in UK football, or why we ran features on football superstitions, animals on the pitch or the worst ever away strips (Coventry City’s chocolate brown monstrosity of 1978/79 season since you ask). In short they didn’t understand our brand. Also because the website was delivering content on a daily, even hourly basis whereas we published the magazine every month, the two products were bound to be different, yet the website used the Total Football name and logo – which looked terrible online, but fine in print.

    Image: www.chrisgriffinsays.co.uk

    After years of being told how vital they were, at a stroke Total Football had given away its content and its brand. Of course we weren’t alone, virtually all traditional media organisations got it horribly wrong in the rush to online publishing in the 90s and it’s taken a long time for the wounds to start to heal.

    One of the consequences of all this is that many people expect digital content to be delivered free of charge. I firmly believe that well-researched and well-written articles, great photography and expert coding comes at a price.

  • Bristol Short Story Prize Competition

    There's just 40 days and 40 nights remaining to get your entries in to the Bristol Short Story Prize. For those who have been thinking about entering... Here are the details of how to get your entries in:


    If you're feeling inspired, or want to read some of the previous winning stories, you can get hold of copies of the anthologies from our website, each volume of which features a beautiful illustration from a student on the UWE Illustration course...

    Here's last year's anthology:

    Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 8 Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 8

    And also the 2014 shortlist:

    Short Story Prize 2014

  • Tangent Books at the 6 Music Festival

    We had great fun last week installing an exhibition of photographer Beezer's work in Trinity as part of the 6 Music Festival that took over Bristol this weekend. Below are some of the images of the exhibition, which features The Wild Bunch (before they became Massive Attack) and images of St Pauls Carnival from the 1980s:


    IMG_7075    IMG_7071  IMG_7086image1

    Also, our glorious leader, Richard Jones Esq. was allowed on the radio. Not once, but TWICE.

    Here he is chatting to Stuart Maconie (tune in at 1hr 38, if you're short of time).

    And have a listen to him talking with the lovely Cerys Matthews on Sunday afternoon (1hr 23).


    Johnna Darque, Assistant Publisher

Items 11 to 20 of 34 total

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4