Tag Archives: Paddy Screech

Art – The Intellectual Deer

Paddy Screech has inspired me to paint an oil painting – a mix of objects patterns and animal. Paddy loves freedom. His nature is timid and likes to withdraw from the rumble of the city on his boat close to nature. He is a typical London boater, who runs a lovely bookshop on a barge called Word on the Water.
Art_The-Minks_Boater_deer_coffeeA few years ago living on a boat on the canals of London was like living out in remote country. It used to be one of the few anarchic places in London, no mail boxes, no government control, no extra costs than coal, gas and a boat.
Art_The-Minks_Boater_deer_coffeeThe final art piece by Anna is a layering of coffee, pattern, vintage pistol, vagabond, and a timid deer.
The Minks_London_Art_Deer Pattern_anjo-1The hat was inspired by the amazing hat and fashion maker  A Child of the Jago – son of Vivienne Westwood.The Minks_London_Art_Deer Pattern_anjo-1


12 Questions — 12 Answers

  1. What is your favourite word? I don’t have one. But like Samuel Beckett I got an affection for the word spool because it sounds nice. (briskly). Ah! (He bends over ledger, turns the pages, finds the entry he wants, reads.) Box . . . thrree . . . spool . . . five. (he raises his head and stares front. With relish.) Spool! () Spooool! (happy smile. Pause. He bends over table, starts peering and poking at the boxes.) Box . . . thrree . . . three . . . four . . . two . . . (with surprise) nine! good God! . . . seven . . . ah! the little rascal! (He takes up the box, peers at it.) Box thrree. (He lays it on table, opens it and peers at spools inside.) Spool . . . (he peers at the ledger) . . . five . . . (he peers at spools) . . . five . . . five . . . ah! the little scoundrel! (He takes out a spool, peers at it.) Spool five. (He lays it on table, closes box three, puts it back with the others, takes up the spool.) Box three, spool five. (He bends over the machine, looks up. With relish.) Spooool! (happy smile. He bends, loads spool on machine, rubs his hands.) Ah! (He peers at ledger, reads entry at foot of page.) Mother at rest at last . . . Hm . . . The black ball . . . (He raises his head, stares blankly front. Puzzled.) Black ball? . . . (He peers again at ledger, reads.) The dark nurse . . . (He raises his head, broods, peers again at ledger, reads.) Slight improvement in bowel condition . . . Hm . . . Memorable . . . what? (He peers closer.) Equinox, memorable equinox. (He raises his head, stares blankly front. Puzzled.) Memorable equinox? . . . (Pause. He shrugs his head shoulders, peers again at ledger, reads.) Farewell to–(he turns the page)–love. He raises his head, broods, bends over machine, switches on and assumes listening posture, i.e. leaning foreward, elbows on table, hand cupping ear towards machine, face front. (Krapp) https://www.msu.edu/~sullivan/BeckettKrapp.htmlThe Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-33
  2. What’s your least favourite word? I edited for a translator for large corporation newsletters and there is a whole register of language, which has been generated by corporate culture and advertising culture and every single phrase like that makes me want to yack. So that really. Advertising language.
  3. What’s your favourite colour? Turquoise blue green.
  4. What colour or material would be suitable to describe you as a person? Battered leather.
  5. What turns you on creatively spiritually emotionally? Freedom.
  6. What turns you off? Money.
  7. What is your favourite curse word? Cunt.
  8. What sound or noise do you love? Arctic Tern. If you live on a river in London you don’t get sea birds really. They go to the Thames but they don’t go much further. The arctic terns are like mini seagulls, beautiful swallow sort of wings and they come up onto the canal so they are like the seagulls of the canal. They got a very little sort of delicate reedy sound that they make.
  9. What sound or noise do you hate? Construction sites. Which you can hear everywhere in London every time, because they are building the big penises.
  10. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
  11. What profession would you not like to do? Almost all of them that involve sitting in an office in front of a computer.
  12. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I forgive you.

Art Process- Arctic Terns

One of the things Paddy Screech loves about London are the arctic terns living on the canals. They are a smaller more elegant versions of seagulls. Unlike the seagulls they come up into to the canals.
The Minks_Art_anjo_for Word on the WaterArctic terns have very delicate elegant features. I’ve seen many when cycling along the canal and enjoyed their playfulness. That’s why I painted the initial sketch upside down.
The Minks_Art_anjo_for Word on the WaterThe water is not usually as blue and clean, but if the weather is sunny the blue sky is reflected in the canals.
The Minks_Art_anjo_for Word on the Water


Paddy — Whats a miracle you have encountered?

What’s a miracle you have encountered in your life?
This barge has been a “save me”.The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-13Sitting on a teak barge in Dal Lake in Srinagar, in northwest India, when the call to prayer happens. Most places in India and in a lot of Muslim countries the call to prayers are recordings. So you get these famous old recordings of the call to prayer, but they are all the same. But in Srinagar there are about 50 mosques all around this lake with the Himalayan Mountains on the outside of it and the mountains sort of hull the sound in around the lake and everyone of the muezzins there is a person and is singing on the top of the tower with a microphone and when they all go off together I’ve never heard anything like it.The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-28The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-25I was in a life that was very stuck and miserable and urban and I sat alone in a flat in front of a computer with a blue face and I pretended I had friends because I talked to people online but actually I didn’t leave my building and sit with other warm bodies much at all.The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-87When I was sitting on that lake listening to that sound cause it was so strange, this eerie sound, it sort of broke a lot of the old ideas that I’ve gone to India. And this project has become because of that. Living on a boat came because of that. So that sort of was breaking the way I thought about the world was predominately given by other people, which didn’t work for me that was a bit miraculous.


English, British, European or a Citizen of the World?

Do you feel yourself more British, more English or more European or a citizen of the world?
I didn’t feel British at all until I went overseas and then everyone told me how very British I was. I don’t really like these identities. I don’t think they are helpful.The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-35The national identities aren’t helping very much. None of them were here before the talking thinking people came with their ideas. So I guess I am “a citizen of the world” but I think we are all citizens of the world more and more because the difficulties people face have globalized too.The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-14 There aren’t so many things that are specific to Britain anymore that you don’t also see in France, in Greece, in Spain, South American countries. It seems to be a global homogenisation. A by-product of which might be to bond people together more and not think that they are different to each other, like they used to be.The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-26I seem to be in a ranting mood today, I do apologise.

This month we feature Paddy Screech. One of the three faces behind Word on the Water, the one floating book shop on London’s Canals.


On the lovely sides of London

What do you love about London?
I feel like I have a very complicated relationship with London. I love that people still love books. I love that people come and see the bookshop and that we are one example what people love about London. I like the inclusiveness of London. I like the fact that despite the mass neurosis and craziness of the Englishness and Londonness that a vast arrays of cultures and ways of living next to each other works.The Minks Boaters MileEnd-40I like the fact that due to the bombing in WWII, you get these streets with beautiful Edwardian houses each house now worth about 5 Million Pounds and there would be three council houses, because that’s where the bomb fell in the war. So people are forced to mix with each other. I like that. I like the canals. I like all the green spaces and there are many of those compared to other cities. I like that things happen here.The Minks Boaters MileEnd-13It’s like we could do this in Norwich and we might get into the local paper once but we do this in London and we are a phenomenon because we are in London everyone is walking past. We did one tweet when we were getting people to sign a petition against having to be closed down and 2 Million people saw the tweet in three days and we realised that there is a visibility in London and that’s kind of lovely. I like that there are so many people from overseas here. Not living here, visiting. Because people from overseas really value this. Because they think it’s typically English. It’s not typically English it’s the only one in England, but it’s nice that London seems to create open and enthusiastic visitors. When you actually are English and live in England you can’t really see it anymore, because what you’re seeing is that England is being changed so quickly and so unpleasantly and it’s being homogenised.The Minks Olympia Park-28So you see the England disappearing so it’s lovely when people come from overseas and all they see the Englishness because they can’t see the changes happening and they can just see the beautiful old boat and old chairs. So I have a slightly mixed relationship with Londonness. I think it’s too big, I don’t think people are designed to live in such large environments with so many things. These erect penis-buildings that are turning up everywhere, as corporate buildings are like a cancer. The Minks Olympia Park-37I think if you took an areal photograph of London a 100 years ago and now and compare them it would look as if London would have got a disease of some sort and had a very nasty infection. I don’t like these buildings at all. They are buildings for giants not for humans and they make you feel like an ant. Which is what they are presumably designed to do.

This month we feature Paddy Screech. One of the three faces behind Word on the Water, the floating book shop on London’s Canals.


Of Boaters and Real Estate Speculation in London

Is there a need that should be tackled politically in your community and how would you go about changing it?

It’s interesting. What is true on boats is actually true everywhere. Because of the explosion in housing prices, people have flogged onto the river in the last two years like they haven’t the past hundred years. Not because they love boats really, but because they can’t afford to buy or rent houses. And that meant where people come, regulation comes, and so regulation has come to the river. I came here partially because that was the least regulated space in London. When I first moved onto the canal you were left alone, you were free because you don’t have a mailing address, you don’t have a door an organisation can come knocking on. It felt like living in the country but it’s gotten more and more regulated the past two years. If you don’t move your boat after 14 days now you get phone calls, you are threatened with fines. People who are slow to afford their license fees get made homeless and their boats are taken without compensation. And it’s becoming the case on the canal like it is everywhere else in London. It’s a crime to be poor.The Minks Boaters East London-20Our big story recently was that we were staying at Paddington Station because we were doing enough to be save business-wise there. And then slowly a big housing agency decided that they wanted to control the hole space and eight little floating business tended for the six moorings that were available and we thought we were pretty save as we are quite prominent among the trading boats, because we brought a lot of publicity to the river trust. And then every single one of the moorings was given to that corporation, cause they obviously were paying more than the little business could afford and most of those businesses were going out of business.The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-12Kings Cross used to be a public space and now it is all owned by private international corporation with their own private security and very slowly each of those houses and buildings will be filled with Jamie Restaurants. Once the land value is raised they sell again. The passing dinosaur stamps on the area and moves away again.The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-81What we are finding is, we are a bubble on their wallpaper and every time they are interested in a place very slowly they kick us out, even though we are one of the things that draws people to the place. The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-3Another huge corporation that’s doing the regeneration of the Olympics site, because they want to have us so that we draw people to their regeneration project and make it appear as if it’s an organic “people space” so that they can raise their land value. So they are offering us a free mooring plan at the moment. It didn’t used to be that shops and land corporations run everybody’s lives. It used to be that the government runs everybody’s lives. But now you have these two masters that have to be kept happy all the time. We feel much smaller than we used to be and much less enjoyed.

This month we feature Paddy Screech. One of the three faces behind Word on the Water, the one floating book shop on London’s Canals.


What is your inspiration to do what you do?

Who or what inspires you to do what you do?
There is a wonderful book, it was published in the 19th century, which John and I both read before starting this, which is a true story about a family that left England because of financial difficulties and moved to the Mississippi and they started living on a floating board that they found sort of huddling underneath a blanket. And it follows their life until they run the biggest Mississippi show boat. And they started the whole boat phenomena in Mississippi. And that book had a lot to do why we suddenly thought we could do this. We got a picture of Walt Whitman holding a butterfly in a frame as you enter the boat, and there is something about that spirit, sort of an outsider, individual thing.The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-48The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-34The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-22


This month we feature Paddy Screech. One of the three faces behind Word on the Water, the one floating book shop on London’s Canals.


The Story behind Word on the Water

What is the story behind Word on the Water, which gap do you fill?
People love it. We were saved by how much people love it, which we hadn’t predicted. John and I have been selling books in a market for a long time. And so we thought why not do it on a boat. We didn’t know it would be so significant to other people. But I think it’s a good time for doing it. I think people are interested in good old things in good old things like they never been before. Young people are interested in old things. I think the boat seems to quietly sort of represent a lot of things that are under threat: bookshops, free access to information, old things. We accidentally stumbled into what seems to be a bit of a reminder of the opposite. People walk into the boat and cry. And that says something about our time. That it’s so rare now to find a small old thing now. I mean we can barely survive. We get chased around by corporations everywhere we go.The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-69The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-58The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-29


What is your neighbourhood in London?

What do you call your neighbourhood in London? Is there such a thing for a boater?
The canal! I mean you move every two weeks but you live on the canal if you want to or not unless you want to pay for a permanent spot and pay 500£ for staying still. So I live in Springfield Park, Hackney, Victoria Park, in Paddington Kings Cross. They each got their own thing.

 To give you an understanding of how the canals and therefore the boaters environment might look like we will post not only photos of Paddy’s Barge, but a selection of impressions we gathered over the last couple of months. Enjoy.The Minks Olympia Park-1The Minks Boaters East London-24The Minks Boaters East London-25The Minks Olympia Park-26


Who are you Paddy Screech?

Who are you?
Who am I? Phuu mhh I ah come from Devon, I was a counsellor and psycho therapist for twenty years working in addiction services, went to Oxford, did English. John my business partner did a postgraduate study in American literature and I got dissatisfied with doing that and we wanted a way to see if it’s possible to not have to leave boats again. Because we all live on boats and have done so for the late 8-10 years. And so it was a way to never leave the canal again. Because I was gonna leave London, because I’ve had enough of various things about London, but the canal sort of gives me what I was leaving London for. Community, the countryside, a slightly slower way of living.The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-39


Paddy Screech — An Introduction

Its a sunny winter day in London. You walk along the canal towards Kings Cross. The sunbeams are in constant battle with new glass facades to touch your skin. Happy faces. People feel at home. London is a well oiled machinery that seldom comes to a halt. If there would be enough space in Central London people would constantly be running. Though even this money making monster has its tender spots. The canal system is one of them. — You continue walking and the gentle sound of classical music is starting to turn your reality into a magical experience. And here it is — The Barge. Word on the Water is a floating piece of wisdom. This place appears to have almost magnetic characteristics for the hardened Londoner and the overwhelmed tourist alike. Meet Paddy Screech, one of the three partners running Word on the Water.

The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-50Can you please state your full name?
Paddy Screech. And I do this business with two other people. One is John Privett and the other one is a mysterious French man called The Captain.The Minks_Word on the Water_15_London-5