When Hoxton Mini Press spotted the marks across the back of 1,500 copies of what they call their “most uplifting book”, I’ve Lived in East London for 86 ½ Years, pulping seemed like it was on the horizon.
But feeling “a bit like a supermarket having to throw out perfectly good fruit because [of] a small dimple or blemish” led to a change of heart.
The collectable photobook publishers have now spared those copies the squashed fate of the controversial Growing Up for Boys, Andrew Marr’s history book, and of course Alan Partridge’s Bouncing Back. (“It looks like porridge…word porridge.”)
Instead, they will be given away for free outside Shoreditch High Street, Old Street, King’s Cross and Farringdon stations next week, on a morning marking what has come to be considered ‘the most depressing day of the year’ – Blue Monday, which falls on 15 January for 2018.
“We’ve always want to spread the joy of books with a giveaway of some sort and this seemed like the ideal opportunity (rather than pulping them, which was the alternative),” Hoxton Mini Press’ Faith McAllister told the Citizen. “Why bin books that are perfect aside from a mark, when you can give them out?”
“It was Christmas time when we came across the damage and we were already thinking of ways to make January a bit brighter. We knew about Blue Monday as a concept already so it seemed appropriate.”
The books will come with a note encouraging people to pass on the book once read, but why will London’s commuters get a kick out of it in the first place?
McAllister points to its colourful central character: “The book tells the story of Joseph Markovitch who left London only once to go to the seaside with his mother.
“He loved Nicolas Cage, took five sugars in his tea, and would have married a six-foot-two Hispanic woman but in the end had such bad chest catarrh, he never had a girlfriend.”
The book’s author and Hoxton Mini Press co-founder Martin Usborne, in a 2014 interview with the Citizen, said he wanted Markovitch to “talk about the old East London and how it has changed”. It soon became clear that the book would have to be more of a complex study of its effervescent subject, who was more interested in talking about “Lady Gaga…and his favourite movies”.
“It’s a funny, touching and heartwarming portrait of the life of a true Eastender,” continued McAllister. “We think it will bring Londoners a laugh or smile on (supposedly) the most miserable day of the year.”
The concept of ‘Blue Monday’ falling on the third Monday of January was cooked up (in the form of formulae that presented variables like “T=time since Christmas” and “Na=the feeling of a need to take action”) by Dr. Cliff Arnall, for a press release promoting Sky Travel in January 2005.
Despite criticism from The Guardian, the term is now seemingly popular enough for Google UK to automatically deliver the date on a simple search at time of writing – usurping results about the seminal New Order song in the process.
Amall’s questionable work continued, and press releases from Wall’s duly appeared for several years after that, making claims on the year’s happiest day.