“The Hot Chestnut Man sees Paul Conneally running a Hot Chestnut stall outside The Institute of Ideas’ “BATTLE OF IDEAS” which will be held at The Royal College Of Art on the 30th and 31st of October 2010″


On Sunday 31st October 2010 I burnt 27 pictures of people I love.

On this day the thinness of the barriers between this world and others is at it’s thinnest. The burning hopefully helps things through and shares the love somehow. A positive act.

I was stopped from performing The Hot Chestnut Man outside the RCA Battle of Ideas on pain of arrest. Claire Fox, Director of the Institute of Ideas, called The Hot Chestnut Man “idiotic”.

I burnt a picture of Claire along with my loved ones – an intermingle of feelings given up to air and ash. The ash I’ll use mixed in with compost to grow something good.

THE BURNING OF CLAIRE FOX – Paul Conneally 2010

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Yesterday was informed by the Borough Council that I do not have their permission to perform The Hot Chestnut Man and that I will be arrested if i do so. This could be on two grounds – no permission to sell food (although The hot Chestnut Man in fact gives his chestnuts away in exchange for fuel) and public order grounds – they fear that The Hot Chestnut Man could incite people to act anti-socially if they burned culturally sensitive books…

The Hot Chestnut man has a wife and two children to keep as well as his good reputation – being jailed at this stage even if for only a night – over some other folks burning their book of choice, for whatever reason, on his warming brazier would seem altogether just too stupid.

A change of plan.

Claire Fox and others have stated that the burning of any book is wrong at any time… This illustrates the extent to which books have become fetishised by certain groups. Books in general are perhaps being worshipped by some as material objects beyond their content or cultural worth.

Stewart Home wonders, as we converse on Facebook, what these book fetishists make of him shredding his own books in public. Here’s a video of his Shoreditch Shredding Machine Massacre:

Shoreditch Shredding Machine Massacre – Stewart Home


Kev Ryan – Director/CEO Charnwood Arts has sent this response to Claire Fox’s press release attacking The Hot Chestnut Man:

Paul – I was once at a jumble sale in Brighton and picked up a book which showed the uninitiated 101 and one ways in which to murder another human being silently and with ease…..I threw it in the nearest bin after ripping it in half…..

In Chongqing last April I met Chi….Chi eats books….he eats the dictionary which defines thought for children in Chinese schools….he eats the history which defines a way of thinking about the past…he does this in public…not anti-intellectual but anti-totalitarian…….

He chooses the books and outs himself on line……… it would not be hard to imagine what he would burn….but my point tp Claire with the long title is that context is everything….in all its varieties and depths.


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