As a magazine that often writes about magazines, we see a lot of print. But, thankfully, we’re never sick of it. From zines to tomes, we’re actually a bit desperate for the kick that a new mag hitting the shelves gives us, that feeling of discovering something we never thought we needed and now can’t live without. On that note, let us introduce you to South London Review of Hand Dryers.
Releasing its first issue earlier this year, South London Review of Hand Dryers (known to its true fans, like us, as SLRoHD) is a newspaper collating together reviews, short stories and musings on the characteristics of publicly-used hand dyers. From a look inside the force of the wind in the BFI’s toilets, the Starbucks on Tottenham Court Road and even a short story by Tim Henman (we think), there’s something for everyone who has ever used a hand dryer. Which, is everyone. James Dyson also plays a large part – obviously.
This unique publication is one that is best described by its anonymous creators, however, in particular, its founder Wedgley Snipes, who you can read all about below.
It’s Nice That: Can you talk us through how the idea for the publication came about? Why do you think it’s a subject matter worth investigating?
Wedgley Snipes: Well I had better introduce myself then. I am The Wedge Nib. My friends know me as Wedgley Snipes, and I am the chief ideas monster at the SLRoHD. Our editor is Mr Charlie Tollemache and our resident artist is Harriet Pound-Jones.
I began my career in criticism writing for the Facebook group for People who Appreciate High Quality Hand Dryers. I reviewed everything from Manrose to XLERATOR. From Dyson to Magnum. After five years of writing and crying and intermittently cooking dinner, I garnered quite a name for myself in the bulbous underground scene that is hand dryer appreciation.
Then one day, while sitting in Little Dorrit park reading The London Review of Books, I saw an advert for The DIY Space for London. It was holding weekly meet-ups in its New Cross Studio where one could learn how to “Publish your own Zine”. Literally, the only word I saw in that advert was pub and before I knew it I was in The Kings Head Pub sinking revolving pints of lemonade and mild.
The following week I attended the aforementioned zine workshop and after six months I was selling my own publication at their very own art fair. In a way, I owe them my life. In another much more tangible way, I owe them money for all the zines I borrowed and never brought back.
A lot of people ask me why hand dryers? What about them is worth investigating? To that, I can only ask of you, why anything? Why did Antony Bourdain each so much food? Why do we send flowers to sick people? Truly there are mysteries without end! Too many riddles weigh man down on earth. We guess them as we can, and come out of the water with our hands dry (and then write a review about the hand dryer we used).
It’s Nice That: Why South London in particular?
WS: It’s funny, I originally moved to South London over three years ago with a very singular goal in mind. I wanted to see if Big Narstie was really as big as everyone (himself included) said he was. It took me hours of searching before I spotted him in Bookmongers Bookshop on Acre Lane. I kept myself hidden behind a stack of cookery books but I could tell, even from way back there, that yes he is pretty big.
Since then I’ve never really left, and each day I fall more in love with life south-of-the-river. Santan Dave, Rhythm Section, Streatham Soul Club, The Effra Social, Borough Market, Morley’s…Mr Tollemache simply remarks "How could it be anywhere else?”
It’s Nice That: What can readers expect when they pick up the publication?
WS: The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the SLRoHD is the quality of the paper (disregard this if you wear mittens when you shop). It’s printed on 55GSM newsprint by those rascals at Newspaper Club. And the quality doesn’t stop there! Issue one features reviews of real hand dryers, reviews of fake books, a short story by Tim Henman, poetry, original artwork, spelling mistakes and more!
We walk the path by its three tenants; to be impartial, independent and impractical at all times, and hope those who read our zine will nod in agreement.
It’s Nice That: Could you tell us about the contributors to the magazine?
WS: I could try, but trying is all I can do. Can someone really quantify envy? Can a body succinctly explain the 2008 financial crash? No. And neither can I quite _tell_ you about the contributors to the magazine. I could tell you that at base they’re highfalutin lowlifes each with a knack for farting out similes within a deadline. At another level, they’re striving to find meaning in a meaningless world. Collectively, we found our meaning in the bathroom.
But they’re writers though; miserable bunch. Our resident artist Harriet Pound-Jones is of a class her own. I adored her naive style of illustration and thought it captured the tenderness people often disregarded apropos hand dryers. To me, hand dryers are like weird little animals that breathe on you. Ms Pound-Jones’ work captures this interpretation well.
From issue two onward we will have Phil Collins joining us as poet in residence. You can take it from me, that Mr Collins does not half arse it when it comes to writing poetry, rather, he uses the entirety of his arse.
It’s Nice That: What’s one of your favourite stories of reviews inside the first issue?
WS: Gosh, I mean everyone always points out The Wind Took It, a terrific short story by Tim “Henman Hill” Henman. Personally, though, I have only bad memories wrapped around it. I had to buy Mr “Henman Hill” Henman so many fecking tennis balls before he’d agree to let us print it. I offered to paint some particularly fat peaches yellow and be done with it but he wasn’t having that. Fair enough I guess. He does kinda put the “don” in Wimbledon.
So for myself, I still like to re-read the review of Kleen Hands Auto. To my mind, it’s as if Carson McCullers and Yukio Mishma ate 1000 biro pens between them and then we cut open their gizzards and found a work of perfectly formed criticism within their entrails… A stinking and necessary review, if I do say so myself.
It’s Nice That: What’s next to come from South London Review of Hand Dryers?
WS: We at the SLRoHD like to remember that we’re here for a long time, not for a good time. That being the case, we’ve got a lot lined up.
To coincide with the launch of issue two and our revamped website (coming early to mid-June), we will be holding a party that Satan himself would be turned away from. It’ll be held in Stockwell and be a chance for all the contributors and fans to meet.
Alongside the obligatory T-shirts and totes, Mr Tollemache is organising our first gallery showing in which we unveil our very own model of Hand Dryer (yep). We’ve been collecting rescue dryers for a while now; each discarded due to general misuse and fondling. The gallery show will also see the launch of a spin-off publication _SLRoHD Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Hand Dryer Disorders_.
Our aim with the gallery show is to generally terrify and re-educate the public in their misuses of these troubled automata, and rehouse them in loving environments. And, of course, we will have exclusive hand dryer art by the dangerous and talented Harriet Pound-Jones.
Finally we’re embarking on a UK tour, selling our wares at the Solid Gone and Duplicate Zine fairs in Birmingham, as well Sheffield Zine Fest in May and Swindon Zine fair in July.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.