Charity & Community Entertainment

Bardaid and Steampunk: An interview with Paul Eccentric

hiya bucks recently caught up with Paul Eccentric about his Bardaid Box scheme.

As his name might suggest, Paul Eccentric is one of the most interesting performers imaginable. A performer for 35 years and a writer for 25 years, Paul has played 100s of festivals including the last 6 Glastonbury’s, and has 7 published works with more planned.

Now, with a trilogy of books in the pipeline, Paul has turned his attention to providing literature for the next generation through his charity Bardaid, providing libraries in local schools and by renovating disused phone boxes into local libraries named ‘Bardaid Boxes.’

“The idea was to help the school system that was strapped for cash as far as books were concerned,” Paul explained to me. “Libraries don’t have to be huge, they can be just a few books, and I’d seen the library telephone boxes dotted around and I thought ‘why can’t we do that?’”

Bardaid now takes care of 3 telephone boxes in Hunton Bridge, Aston Clinton and North Marston, as well as a whole disused dairy in North Marston, and Paul couldn’t be more thrilled with how well it’s going. The Bardaid boxes have all been ceremoniously opened by Sunday Times best selling author Carole Matthews and Paul maintains the boxes himself.

“It’s a matter of books and people respecting it,” Paul says. “It’s second-hand books, it’s a second life for the boxes. It’s recycling and upcycling.” It’s not just great for the communities that the libraries serve, but also for new and upcoming writers too.

“We made sure we kept a shelf in the middle at eye level for self-published writers and there’s a file for unpublished writers,” says Paul. “The way I see it, as an author, if you’ve never heard of an author, you can try the book and suddenly you might go out and buy things by them if you liked it. It’s like free advertising.”

Aside from inspiring new readers and giving platforms to new authors, Paul is continuing to write. His latest book, The Giant Step, is the first in a trilogy that Paul has named The Periwinkle Perspective, and it’s also his first foray into the ‘Steampunk’ genre.

“Steampunk is a lot of things to a lot of people,” Paul explains. “Punk rock in the 70s was a DIY culture, expressing yourself. Doing what you wanted to do and becoming who you wanted to be.

“Steampunk is very similar. It’s people who want to express themselves in their own way, so they build costumes, machines, bikes, cars and models. Steampunk can be anything you want, but it tends to be associated for people with a passion for the past, Victoriana in particular.”

With these Steampunk roots at its heart, The Giant Step provides an alternative vision of the past and posits a simple but paradigm-shifting idea: what if Queen Victoria had claimed to have put a rocket on the moon?

“If Victoria, with her empire on the wane and in order to perk it up, had said she’d put a rocket on the moon in 1897, no one could have disproved it.

“There’s a conspiracy over whether the Americans put a man on the moon in 1969, and it put the world on a certain course where America was the dominant power. So that’s the starting point: if Victoria had put a rocket on the moon, what would the world look like? Who would be in control? Everything would change with it.”  

The Giant Step will release on November 26th. Pre-orders are available now and include a free download of Paul reading the original short story that inspired the book. You can place your order at www.caffeinenightsbooks.com and, for more information including details of a virtual book tour, visit www.pauleccentric.co.uk.

About the author

Matt Batsman

Matt Batsman

I’m a recent graduate from the University of Southampton with a degree in English Literature. I am an aspiring writer/ journalist with an interest in food, health, sport and drama…oh, and literature obviously! If you have an idea for a hiya bucks story, email me at matt@hiyabucks.com.