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SW_1-36v3 (dragged) 1

SW_1-36v3 (dragged)

WHAT'S GOING ON? Editor's Letter Idiots, Maniacs and Me Why I’ve made Strong Words for you, by the editor, Ed Needham “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” This joke by the late American comedian George Carlin works because everyone who has driven on a motorway can identify with the sentiment as a statement of fact. Who hasn’t suspected that theirs is the only vehicle controlled by someone who genuinely knows what they are doing? And by extension, that everyone else has something wrong with them? While we’re at it, probably even the drivers you’re sharing a lane with. I think the reason people enjoy reading books is the same. You may favour a more subtle approach than dividing the entire world into “idiot” or “maniac”, but you can’t experience a book without positioning yourself in relation to the lives and decisions of others. Whether fiction or non; past, present or future – standing invisibly among other people’s predicaments and surveying their conduct is the stuff of life. Or put another way, the only subject more fascinating than human behaviour is human behaviour vis-a-vis you. That’s the infinite abracadabra of books. The three books mentioned on the cover are good examples. The journalist Bridget Kendall’s oral history of the Cold War features individuals describing their experience of major flashpoints, such as the Prague Spring, or the Cuban Missile Crisis. I really like the format of oral histories. Whenever I see a report on the news of a terrible earthquake, part of my brain boasts to itself, “I think I’d probably have survived that.” Something similar happens with oral histories. That bit of the brain that reckons it knows everything thinks, “Why didn’t they do what I would have done?” But while heroically confirming (to the rest of my head) that, yes, I'd have taken serious risks in order to distribute banned material, as well as finding a way over the Berlin Wall while I was at it, another part of the SAME. BRAIN. is keeping very quiet about the suspicion that it may well have quite willingly grassed on every neighbour in the street. On the currently fashionable topic of brains, Dr Jules Montague’s book Lost and Found, about where we go when conditions such as illness, injury or substance abuse cause us to “lose ourselves”, is impossible to read without hearing oneself repeat with diminishing conviction “Of course, that’s not going to happen to me.” And on the eternally fashionable topic of awful things happening, The Trauma Cleaner looks at the heroic task of cleaning up the houses where said awful things have left their mark. The writer Sarah Krasnostein describes how Sandra Pankhurst deals with these houses of horror. As soon as you discover what “wet squalor” means, “I couldn’t” is the standard response. And so when witnessing the way in which Sandra conducts her delicate business among both living and dead, with the details of her own nightmare childhood filtered in, one’s regard for such an awe-inspiring individual intensifies by the sentence. Anyway, this is a rather long and pompous way of saying I really love books and their magic powers. I’d have to live on one of those planets where every day lasts a year and half in order to read everything that catches my eye, and I still like to know what’s new. Assuming I’m not so unusual as to be alone in this belief, I’ve made this magazine for everyone else who feels the same. I’ve worked in the magazine industry for a long time – I edited a number of popular men’s magazines that are no longer with us, and was the managing editor at Rolling Stone in the US for a while. More recently I edited a health and fitness title called Coach, that made a positive difference to people’s lives by helping them try new things and find what worked for them. Perhaps Strong Words will have a similar effect. If you like it, please subscribe, and thanks for reading. @edneedham014 SUBSCRIBE AT: STRONG-WORDS.CO.UK APRIL 2018 STRONG WORDS 03