I’m sitting in 32, it’s about midday. I’ve drunk too much coffee (again), I’m rattling and I’m not really meant to be here. Matt said he’d do my day so I can scrape some time together to prepare for *something* outside of *this*, but there were some jobs piling up so I thought I’d stick around to help out.
This morning we picked up a new set of tote bags designed by Seb. They’re beautiful—a dusty pink on charcoal grey. Mwah! I learnt to drive a couple of years ago and got a free car that my job-job were about to scrap. It wasn’t meant to last long but, like me today, it’s sticking around. I spend a lot of time driving things from place to place. It’s practically a pastime. So, we drove in via Green City where the T-shirt Cat studio is. I sort off half-suggested stopping in Morrisons for snacks on the way because I was hungry, even though we did have breakfast. We thought against it since we didn’t want to be late: the space needed opening, warming up, coffee making and there were some print jobs to do which is pretty much why I’m still here and not doing the other thing.
After unlocking and dumping our stuff, Matt went up to Rose & Grants to get toasties while I sanded down the front of the counter which was wine stained after someone dropped a drink at a book launch so we could hang the new tote bag up for all to see. When he got back I was pretty proud of my work, he said what’re you smiling at? We tried to figure out where to store the totes. Do they go where the t-shirts are and put the t-shirts in the tub? The totes in the tub? We had second-breakfast first. One day in the old space at St Margaret’s Place a toaster appeared. It turns out Tess had a subscription to ‘Cheese Postie’—a service that sends toasties in the post. We found out about it one night at a ‘staff meeting’ at Queen’s Park Cafe and immediately invested in some toastie bags for the space so that toasties could ‘happen’. They happened for a while but were mostly a kind of messy and difficult thing to do. The back room was so tiny and freezing and stuff would just pile up all over us.
It was a sweet little hovel. But, in the words of Peter Saffrey of Well Finished (who sells us second hand print finishing equipment now), it’s chalk and cheese at 32 now! We’ve got a fridge, a sink, a coffee machine, a proper cupboard, cutlery, a drying rack, dozens of cups so we can be hospitable at events, plates, plants, lamps, tea towels AND hand towels. We didn’t bring the toaster or anything because it was pretty gross and we mostly eat leftovers, crisps & houmous, cashews, easy peelers or noodle-pots from 100 Supermarket on Trongate.
Looking through old photos and racking what little memory I have left, it became more and more clear: I haven’t got a clue what to say about Good Press. It’s so many things to me that it kind of goes beyond categorisation or description.
It is, of course, most fundamentally a bookshop. It’s also been a project space, hosting readings, screenings, performances, gigs, and pizza parties. It has shared spaces with galleries, record shops, risograph printers and a vegan restaurant. It has introduced me to literally thousands of artists, organisations, publishers, galleries, book fairs, wierdos, assholes and everyone and everything in between. It’s brought me all around the world and back again. It’s where I (continue) to learn countless skills ranging from printing, binding, photoshop and indesign, to installing a show and building a bench. It’s encouraged me to try new things, forever mess around and never take myself too seriously. It’s emboldened me, forever prone to social anxiety, to participate, critique, appreciate and enjoy the community that exists around us, both locally and globally. It’s acted as a home-base for countless nights out; a place where achievements have been celebrated and losses dealt with. And most vitally, it’s given me my best friends for the last eight years. And somehow, no matter what is going on, the distractions and other obligations that pop up, like a god damn lighthouse, there is Good Press: flickering and honking away in the fog. A place for all to venture to and aspire to be more like.
Maybe this is starting to sound too much like a eulogy. But hey, one day Good Press won’t exist; that’s no shock, life will move on. But for now, it endlessly inspires and propels me and I will always feel so grateful and fortunate that it’s in my life.
Earlier in the week some friends and I who are studying at Glasgow School of Art got together to make posters and flyers in support of the UCU & EIS strikes. The day had got away and there was a book launch in the evening so I said I’d print the flyers out when I was next in. After eating toasties and chatting to Laura a bit when she arrived, I set to work on the flyers, ready to distribute at the picket line next week. Then I started on—funnily enough—a print job for Rosie at MAP for the Glasgow Film Festival event the next week. Then I was in a bit of a rush because Lizzie was coming in to use the studio since it’s an open access day. I think she’s preparing for her exhibition at Govan Project Space. The poster is hanging up above the fridge. I spent some time texting Caitlin about upcoming events. She needed to rearrange the opening for Jessie Whiteley’s show at Lunchtime since some stuff at her job-job is happening when it was originally planned. It’s going to be on 19 March now, there’s events on the 17th, and the 18th. I suggest we get bunk beds. Matt showed me how to make type go along on a wiggly line for our new events listing flyer. I’ll leave it with him to print out since I’ve really got to get going.
When I started writing this Matt was on the phone talking about some project or other, there were people in the shop browsing and chatting and now he’s over there talking about publication production with them. I think they started with questions about binding and now I hear them talking about the difference between screen printing and risograph, paper and stuff. I’m not listening that hard. Musho’s meant to come in a bit and my parking has run out so I should really go but it would be good to see him before he goes away next week. Someone just came in to drop off a film. We’re acting as a drop off point for this service called Gulabi who do processing/developing in the Southside. Laura’s working away on a publication for a project she’s doing with some of her school friends. We’re listening to The Fall. Lizzie just let me know that we’d run out of the paper she wanted to use, just short of her print run. Feel pretty bad about that.
Before writing this I was trying to plunge back to the last time I contributed some words about the space. David was going over to Vancouver to do a round-table and a talk, and he worked really long and hard gathering views from everyone around to make his presentation. I noticed at the bottom of my email that I signed off with an apology for my tone. I said I’d been spending too much time writing Creative Scotland applications and also it felt I was still in ‘dissertation mode’. That email was date-marked September 2016. I graduated with my BA in 2015, I think we spent the whole summer after I finished, and seemingly the best part of the following year, applying for funding for the space. Hence the tone and the apology. We were trying to produce ambitious(!) publications and had a master plan to internationally distribute them by presenting at book fairs, running events and so on. We were turned down three times and I think the last time we got the sorry-not-sorry I was laid up with flu. That was the week which was meant to be my last shifts at Mono (since I’d been lucky to find a job-job that wasn’t in a bar). Since I was sick I missed out on a triumphant mic-drop of a last night. It all sort of fizzled and melded. Anyway, so we were turned down, down, down despite trying to bend and stretch and getting some seriously helpful-help from Kirsteen with our wording and that. It was just annoying so we hopped off the bus, and tried to break the chain of expectations (we expect their money, they expect us to perform a certain way). We still tried to make distribution happen: our point was to run a sort of informal distribution service for Scotland-based publishers, artists and organisations. We figured that since we published stuff and tried to get it round then maybe we could pull some solids and gather a bloc. It never really worked and we recently dismantled it to make room for more printing equipment. I think it might still be on the website that we ‘do distribution’ but don’t believe everything you read. The day we were making the posters for the students supporting the strike posters I’d had to run around dropping off boxes of old books with people, so I was feeling a bit bonkers and tired by the time I got back to 32.
Responding to a Call
If Good Press didn't exist I wouldn't have anywhere to put my books.
Though I don't strictly feel this to be true anymore, there was a time I genuinely felt this. Now we’re lucky to have spaces like London Centre for Book Arts and World of Echo who truly stand by cultural interest, collaboration and coming together.
32 St Andrews Street and the spaces within, Good Press, Lunchtime Gallery and Sunday's, came together partly through necessity and mostly through friendship and a belief in community. When we moved to 32, we didn't know that it would work to be in such close proximity — really it’s not a huge space and it’s split three ways — but it works through support, generosity and sharing.
The aim of Good Press has always been to be flexible to change and to hold close to our DIY roots. Don't do it unless it feels right, don't be afraid to get it wrong, just do it in the hope that others feel they can too. I like to think we've stood by these values and this is one of the reasons it continues today.
I guess I'm finding it hard to reflect since I've personally been so closely involved with it. Both Jess and I formed it together in 2011 and I don't think life would be the same without it. We use the space not just to promote the activity of independent publishing activity and creative production, but also to come together and make something as a team. Everyone who has ever been a part of the space—whether volunteering their time, being part of a project or exhibition, or just coming into the space—means someone has contributed to its continuation. Sometimes that can mean cleaning and tidying, sometimes it’s drinking a beer and eating a pizza, sometimes it’s hard, most of the time it’s really not.
A lot of what I wrote to David about was the struggle of having to generate canny, cunning, creative means of hustling, and relying heavily on the generosity of those we collaborate with, since the revenue from selling publications was only ever enough to cover overheads (and often not even quite that). I remember feeling like Good Press was really hard then.
It’s tomorrow now and I’m trying to find my way back into what I was saying yesterday. I did get away to do the other *thing* and now I’m back. I folded some of the MAP print-job. Matt had printed some of the listings flyers and they look so cute. The difficulty I was talking about was that we wanted to do so much but had no means to do so. I remembered this morning that about this time someone’s friend was up from somewhere, and they were sitting with us after something-or-other and we made the inference that if it all burnt down well, we’d be free! And then they said why do you keep bothering, then? We didn’t have a particularly good answer and wormed our way out of it.
I think I was trying to say, that what I was trying to say to David, was, ‘really, it’s kind of like a ship and we just have to keep it well oiled, steering in some kind of reasonable or rational direction, and stop it from setting on fire, but we attempt not to dictate its course.’ (I made a lot of sailing references in my email, we of course were the crew). Mattie just turned up after her job-job, Caitlin is sweeping the gallery. When I got here there was a bustle of preparation. Matt said it had been back-to-back busy. Now he’s finishing up folding and counting the GFF pamphlets. Tonight is the opening of Raissa’s show in Lunchtime. Raissa designed Caitlin’s swish and sassy logo.
We tried and hobbled and blundered and stumbled and sometimes did a good hustle but eventually we had to stop doing projects entirely. We never had any money and barely any time to research, support and develop things. Instead we honed in on, what seems to me the biggest strength of what had always been there, the body of the boat right under our nose, the fact that absolutely anyone can stock their publication at Good Press, and for a long time the publications on the shelves, table tops and sometimes seeping onto the floor found their way there by the engagement of a public, a social exchange. It’s open submission dummy!
After some years passed after that 2016 email—when we’d fully broken away from wishing Creative Scotland would sort us out and when we’d decided to stop doing exhibitions and publishing so much and focus on gently tending the ship—we found out that Clydeside Press were selling their risograph machine. What fate! All of a sudden things were possible again. We scraped together some cash and scooped it up, Ross and co helped haul it into the wagon, and I worried it would break under the weight of the machine. Matt was really nervous and said I was driving erratically.
On our way up to collect it we pulled up at the lights beside the guy who runs Shawarma King. He used to offer me a job *all the time* and I was like ‘I’ve got like two and a half already!’ He saw I still had a P plate on and told me to be careful, or maybe it was the driving that had Matt in a tizz. We managed to get it home in one piece and met Ed, Musho and Nick on the street. Getting it upstairs was absolutely terrifying. There was blood. Then they all went off to their job-jobs. We kept it in our spare room for about 9 months, paying it off with print jobs and happily circulating the rumour that we would eventually move into a bigger space and build an open access studio, fantasising about being able to fund residencies, publishing projects and more again.
The rumour found its way to Caitlin and one day, I think we were moving a PA, and she said she might be interested in moving into our old space since she wanted to start a gallery. She astutely gathered that there aren’t as many project spaces in Glasgow as you might think, especially not ones that are approachable and malleable. She was interested in programming, sure, but also in providing somewhere for people to plop their projects, so would operate it through open- call too. I said ‘yeah sure’, we could let her know when we move and put her in touch with the landlord, but also maybe we could go in together if we find somewhere big enough.
I should cut a long story short, because the intervening months of negotiating spaces was fairly dull and sometimes incredibly stressful but fast-forward to July 2019 and we were all working day and night to construct 32. Lunchtime opened with a bang, exhibiting a room full of Isobel’s drawings and paintings. Good Press somehow managed to swell into the new shelving units which we were convinced would give us more room. Aki and Neil designed a double-sided tote bag for the new space which we thought was revolutionary. Burning House Books occupied some of the new furniture too with their incredible distributions, ready for a residency and event programme through the summer. We didn’t manage to get the riso in in time.
Became involved through friends. Being at and in Good Press becomes an extension of those friendships. A social life in a new city. Informally exchanging favours and asks: somewhere to stay, a mattress, support through studies, we owe you dinner, will you do this Saturday—I can do that Saturday.
Good Press space has been (old one and no. 32) a bookshop, a social space, a hiding place, a place to drink beers, eat crisps, drink coffees, launch things, see things, read things, chat, work, print.
I really enjoyed dismantling the shelves in old GP and making order here in the new space. Finding the best way to display the tapes so that they didn't fall on the floor. Every event I came to for a while I saw a cassette tape fall on the floor and I tried not to let it bother me. I notice now they've been moved and it seems to work much better.
I work the odd Saturday but I try to make it along to see other people when they're here and to events when I can. I would like to spend more time here, with friends, but I think it will go through phases.
My top ten Good Press moments, in no real order:
- Corpsekisser, Waiters and Sex Hands playing a few days after New Year and people turning up.
- Compiling Common People as quickly as possible, seeing it sell out even quicker.
- Thoughts of the Paper Buffet exhibition opening and how full of friendship.
- Noodle-pots in the sun between applying coats of paint to the ceiling and walls that were falling apart.
- Building a bench out of a wall with Nick.
- Letting that bench be dismantled.
- Both The History Of and That's Life projects. Feeling the generosity of contributors and seeing how much history and music means to people.
- The Freedom Isa Bonfire publication by Suzie Zak.
- 6 packs of Carlsberg being £3.50.
- The first dinner together at 32 St Andrews on 5 July 2019.
Now we’re at 32 and it’s just turning March 2020. Old difficulties pass. New ones arise.
Good Press, now apparently more ‘shop like’ or so they say, is still open submission, still a tender swaying boat gathering up books, zines, and everything in between. We host events (what feels like) nearly every week—poetry readings, book launches, performances—from whoever wants to come and do their show and tell. There was even bingo and nut-roast at one recently. You’re no longer tripping over one another or worrying whether there’ll be room inside.
A deliberately misremembered event, where the misremembering tries to grow itself into the story of an event.
Repetition on paper doesn’t work the same way as repetition through sound there is a hole in my hand and it’s filling up with blood, filling up with blood, filling up with blood. Straddling a line between the communal and the composed, between the maker and the reader, between confidence and reticence. Crammed in, the usual tea-time kind of time, faces are very, very close to each other, or to armpits, ears, napes, knees. Shuffling, a tang of sweat there is a hole in my hand and it’s filling up with blood, filling up with blood, filling up with blood. A desperate energy of trying to catch-consume everything is the vapour feeding and leaving the crowd. Eyeballs dart and bulge. A production and amplification of obscure conversations. The booming, unrelenting voice there is a hole in my hand and it’s filling up with blood, filling up with blood, filling up with blood. Fluttering snatches of connection made visually with friends, strangers: panic misread as uncontainable joy, uncontainable joy misread as trigger of painful memories, trigger of painful memories misread as really need the toilet. Repetition on paper doesn’t work the same way as repetition through sound. He’s inexhaustible. Is this improvised? there is a hole in my hand and it’s filling up with blood, filling up with blood, filling up with blood. A tang tang of ring-pull under the tongue, misread as her own blood as she senses the volume increase and no line of escape there is a hole in my hand and it’s filling up with blood, filling up with blood, filling up with blood. The thinking bit of the brain in concert with the doing bit of the brain. The crescendo takes us all down with its salty crest. Exhilarated scampering, dodging, as the gang trundles off to the next hit.
(Launching Thom Walker’s LAND, 2016)
Lunchtime has hosted regular exhibitions from recent graduates and is running a packed out exhibition calendar for the next few months, programmed from a bountiful open- call of young artists from around the city. The shows bring a different crowd of excited bodies each time, and Caitlin’s been pivotal in arranging occasional ‘street parties’ with the neighbours down the street:, opening warm doors and welcoming people in to see what everyone’s up to. One time we walked down the row of shop fronts and noticed everyone else had lovely lamplit glows and realised we needed to up our atmos’ game since the overhead lights are pretty brutal when it’s dark out. This has been arranged.
I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. To Jo for the meet-cute, to Matt and Jess for taking a chance, to Musho for the words, to Isobel for being the first, to Katie for the Stuff, to Nat for the humility, to Kate for tech, to Jonny for the car, to Son for biscuits, to Bella for after, to Amy for the lols, to Hannah for the window, to Sean for the immortalisation of it all, to Siri for calm, to Patrick for dedication, to Jack, Hannah and Jordan for the best rolls, to Jamie for dedication too, to Ben and Kirsty for travelling, to Rob for reading, to Silke, Jess, Sofie and Rosie for collectivity, to Raissa for also being the first, to Ewan for coffees and Loll for cigs with menthol filters, to Good Press, to Sunday’s, to everyone I’ve forgotten, for being there and being together, I would like to thank you all so much for Lunchtime.
Sundays has open access members in printing three days a week and we’re still investing in more equipment to become a fully fledged book making studio. There was a residency in conjunction with Ghost Comics festival and there’s more of those planned, and we published our first book of Ira Yonemura’s drawings, which was the last show at 5 St Margaret’s Place. We did do one more in the end. Ira runs London Centre for Book Arts which is a place very dear to us and it was gorgeous to close with his work.
The WhatsApp group stands at 13 active and past members. Somebody recently left. They still do days but must find notifications stressful. Me too. We painted the floor pink. We bought more stools and chairs. We have a Bluetooth receiver on the stereo, a neon strip light illuminating the foggy condensation after a busy evening gathering. A couple of months ago we shifted the furniture round and had a big second hand book sale and Civic House Kitchen made rolls. I ate about four of them. They were delicious!
32 St Andrews Street, Glasgow, is occupied by Good Press (a bookshop), Lunchtime (a gallery) and Sunday’s (a print service and members studio). This text was compiled by: Nat Akinyi, Jo Dawson, Musheto Fernández, Jessica Higgins, Caitlin Merrett King, Nick Lynch, Isobel Neviazsky, Mattie Roberts, Matthew Walkerdine & Rebecca Wilcox, with endless gratitude to all extensions not present here.