Hi, one or several on this list contributed to 'mayday' on May
1st last year. Well, this is to show that something is still becoming of it
and to say thanks to all those who sent contributions in. Also, to invite
both those who did, and everyone else besides, to visit the following site
on May 1st, and make responses.

          Hope that you'll be interested in news of this forthcoming web
site and be inspired to contribute an observation from your everyday of May

and apologies if you've received this message twice!


(hosted by var e-zine)

          a web site re-evaluating one year on since the 'sea-change' General
Election through observations of everyday life

          The site goes on-line at 00.01hrs (BST) May 1st 1998 unfolding
over the day on an hourly basis until 23.59 hrs (BST). It presents selected
from a project, initiated by poet / publisher cris cheek, as a homage to
Mass Observation, which generated a wide range of texts and images from the
everyday lives of people around Britain, on Mayday 97. cris cheek (Sound &
Language), together with Var editor, Kirsten Lavers invite responses
throughout mayday 98 to be uploaded as they come in.

Not another Mass Observation project surely!

No. This is not about one person snooping on their neighbour, or their
community. These are those details of their own everyday lives, that people
have a desire to register. 'mayday97mayday98' begins to map what people
make a 'note' of, what strikes them, what catches their attention. What is
important to them, in that place and at that time, however mundane or
ephemeral that may appear to be.

Why this site, now?

Contributions to mayday97 inevitably included a lot of references to the
General Election. We thought that, one year on, some reconsiderations were
called for. The contributions invited to this site on May 1st this year
form part of that process. What results will remain on-line for the
foreseeable future, hosted by var e-zine, at this URL. There will be other
onward developments from this project, including a planned book publication.

            - - -     How to take part this year     - - -

Everyone is encouraged to contribute to mayday98. Either in response to
something seen or read on the site OR an observation that YOU make on
May 1st this year. When we get your observation it will be loaded up, asap.
And your name (unless you ask otherwise), will be added onto the growing
list of contributors. You can contribute texts and images of all kinds
(photos, drawings, scans, photocopies, writing), shorter, pithier, things
are best. We might make a selection. NB. (Please do it on May 1st only!)

- here's how
1. fax on  01223 576082
2. e-mail  [log in to unmask]
3. send an attachment with your e-mail message (we can accept rtf, text,
j.peg formats)
4. telephone a message to 01223 576082 we will check the answer machine
every half an hour and transcribe your message direct onto the site

Things to include (optional)
-   your location (or the location of the observation)
-   your name (names will not be attached to individual contributions on
the site)
-   how we can contact you (a book is in the planning stages, and other
developments are likely from this site)


Mass Observation

Mass Observation was founded, sixty years ago, in 1937, by Tom Harrison, a
self trained anthropologist, Charles Madge, poet and journalist, and
Humphrey Jennings, painter, poet, writer and film-maker. Mass Observation
challenged the claim of the press to represent the views of ordinary
people. Despite the male grouping that mobilised it, Mass Observation
archived an extraordinary and incomparably rich body of writing by women.

The Mass Observation Day Survey of May 12th 1937 exploded simplistic
notions of collective identity. It compiled reports, written on that day by
hundreds of people in all 'walks of life'. The result stands as an
interrogation of the construction of meta-narrative. However, Mass
Observation did contribute to the sense that 'big brother was watching
you', and resulted in some prurient 'othering'.

May 12th 1937 was the Coronation day of George VI - a day that was claimed
to represent a 'sea-change' for the British people. 'mayday 97' marked
another such defining moment.

we look forward to receiving your observation
cris cheek and Kirsten Lavers