May kicked off with a trip to Bath to see Captain Corelli’s Mandolin at the Theatre Royal. I'm always blown away at the depth of talent and thought that goes into theatrical performances. The cast of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin are multilingual musicians that managed to translate a lovely story into a beautiful and devastating stage show.
Travelling with my girlfriend, we stayed in the gorgeous Lord Nelson Suite at Three Abbey Green. It's a stunning but small bed and breakfast right in the centre of the city. The Lord Nelson Suite has a four poster bed, fireplace, and three traditional floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a quaint square. Alan, the owner, is warm and accommodating, full of recommendations, the food is great, and we really enjoyed our stay. If you're ever in Bath and need somewhere to kip for the night, do book.
As my adventures in going cashless continue, I feel obliged to tell you that the Theatre Royal is firmly a cash-exclusive venue. On May 7th, HuffPost shared an article on cashless living that ruffled a few feathers. Sam Missingham (with 'opinionated af' in her Twitter bio as if it were her only personality trait – and it looks like it might be) claimed in a Twitter thread that going cashless was only for 'privileged young men'.
I firmly believe cashless is the future for many businesses but to clarify, I also believe cash should be an accepted form of payment in every location. Overseas, Philadelphia made cashless stores illegal earlier this year citing that it discriminated the poorest in society. Where money is money is money, I don't believe a company should be picky in taking it regardless of the form that money takes.
All of my recent travel has refined my eye for design, especially in regard to the items we carry on a daily basis. Take the humble inhaler, desperately in need of a more ergonomic and eco-friendly redesign. We can come up with a better shape than the signature 'straight-but-wonky-at-the-end' whatever-that-is whilst making all but the important medication-carrying canister reusable. There's your homework. Please – my new bag doesn’t have much space.
What I've been reading:
I'm still listening to the audiobook for Danny Wallace's Yes Man on Audible. I've been told that his most recent book, published in 2017, is also a good read. It's called F*** You Very Much (censorship his) and is about how rudeness shapes the world we live in.
I've also just dipped into Jordan B. Peterson's 12 Rules for Life. Proving that tube ads do sometimes work, I picked up the book after seeing this ad (below)on my morning commute. Jordan and I differ when it comes to our political outlook but I think, especially in these sensitive times, it's important to differentiate a person from their art. I'm enjoying the book so far which is all about how to carry yourself in the modern world.
Technology-design brand Punkt. – full-stop included – has a library of fantastic books that pay homage to the company (and Jasper’s) ethos. Books featured in their library that I’ve read include Hatching Twitter: The True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal, Cal Newport’s new book Digital Minimalism, and Jaron Lainer’s book Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, all of which I have the pleasure of recommending to you also.
I plan on digging into Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in The Digital Age and Shinrin-Yoku (which translates as 'forest bathing', the act of spending time in a forest to increase a sense of wellbeing) soon.
And with Trump paying visit to the UK tomorrow, I read this BBC article about the Presidential motorcade, Air Force One, and more. There's also a Washington Post article from the 2016 Election campaign about 'the football' – the briefcase that contains the ingredients necessary to launch the United States' 900 nuclear weapons. It's an interesting read.
What I've been watching:
Love Island returns to (laptop) screens tomorrow night. As you know, the programme has received some criticism following the suicide of Jeremy Kyle participant Steve Dymond. I find psychology and media fascinating both in the way people consume and are entirely consumed by it, be that in a social media shaming fury that destroys the life of its victim or as collateral damage for ITV 2's most watched programme.
Beyond simple voyeurism, I never understood the appeal of Love Island and spent a lot of the last series attempting to work out what personal defects one must have – and we all have them – to audition for it in the first place. A thirst for fame, a quest for money, or perhaps a desperate need for validation from strangers.
For the record, I never think a social media pile-on is a good idea even if the Creative Director releases a statement as smarmy as the one he did. Noise only serves to amplify those with the loudest voices. Your Twitter account won’t go far against the might of ITV.
Needless to say, I won't be watching Love Island. I do recommend We Live In Public though, a documentary about one of the most invasive reality television experiments ever, long before reality television existed.
What I've been liking:
As a reminder, I don't get paid, accept things for free, or use referral links to earn a commission for anything in this newsletter. I think doing so is morally shady. Everything here is an honest recommendation, mentioned because I see what the company is doing, have experienced their customer service or products, and think you would get some value from them also.
I had the pleasure of popping into the Tom Ford store in Covent Garden at the start of the month to pick up his coveted eye cream – make sure you carry a tube with you to freshen up half-way through your day. If you get the opportunity, try his Neroli Portofino perfume. It certainly isn't cheap at an eye-watering £395 a bottle but the staff aren't concerned if you spritz up with their in-store testers. As an Eau de Parfum (rather than a Toilette or Cologne), it'll linger on your clothing for days.
Perhaps more affordable fragrances, Tacit from Australian brand Aesop is herbaceous and crisp whilst Comme des Garçons' Hinoki, which is an Eau de Toilette, is also lovely albeit it very ephemeral – it dries down wonderfully on the skin but fades to a whisper within the hour.
I received a brand new cardholder not long after my one from Grenson began to fall apart. Grenson is still a fantastic brand – you know I’ve been donning their Sneaker 01’s for a few months now – but the way their cardholder is designed pales to the one I now use from French brand Laperruque. Make sure, if you pick one up, that you get the UK size. Who knew ID cards in France were so big?!
I recommenced my subscription to Vitl two weeks ago, a company that provides strips of daily vitamins personally tailored to you. There’s a special place reserved in hell for the courier they use but Vitl itself is fantastic and a key example of flashy branding and good customer service shifting a low-cost (but high-quality) product.
Once again, summer seems to have snuck up on us. Sadly, there won’t be any fruit or vegetable growing from me this year as we’re renovating but it isn't too late for you to get your green thumb out. If you’re after a way to grow without getting on your hands and knees, or if you don’t have much space in your garden or on your patio, check out VegTrug.
The last thing of note here is Papier. I picked up some personalised stationary after my first choice (and another French brand) Benetton Graveur proved too costly. The materials Papier used in crafting my notecards are beautiful and I'm really pleased with the finished product which arrived on-time and in great shape! Check out their Father's Day range for something special.
What I've been listening to:
I’ve been enjoying Pitchfork’s weekly newsletter, The Sunday Review. It takes a deep-dive on a classic album, detailing how it was recorded, where the seed was planted, the people behind it, and more. Recent albums include Selected Ambient Works Volume II from Aphex Twin, Fiona Apple’s When The Pawn... and The Spice Girls. All of which (yes, even that last one) are works of art.
I’ve enjoyed flicking through some of Apple Music’s playlists, which is something I haven’t done much of in the past. The ‘Browse’ tab is filled with some well curated, regularly updated lists of tunes. I particularly like the Headliners playlist, featuring everything from Tame Impala to Biffy Clyro, The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, Liam Gallagher, alt-J and more. The playlist artwork is also brilliant too!
I dove into Tyler, The Creator for the first time after news of him throwing a gig in Peckham (and then subsequently cancelling it after thousands showed up) reached my timeline.
I had no idea that Chris Martin of Coldplay fame released an album under the name Los Unidades late last year. The album, made for charity Global Citizen, features some impressive names including Stormzy, Pharrell, and Stargate. Nelson Mandela’s also on it, which is a bloody impressive feat, all things considering.
I’ve taken the chance to use Luminary, a new podcast app, free for three months. Some of my favourite pods have moved and hidden behind its paywall. Whilst I appreciate and support the need for podcasters to make money beyond advertising and sponsorship, I’m disappointed by the decision to move behind Luminary’s paywall and won’t be paying for the service when my trial ends. I much prefer to support creators on Patreon where I know a substantial percentage of the money will go to the creators, rather than fund development of a third-party platform. I can't help but feel this is a mistake and suffice to say, I can't imagine we'll be hearing much of Luminary in two years time.
My monthly newsletter is a summary of what I've been reading, writing, listening to and enjoying. Get it on the first Sunday of each month.