The crew of my old student radio station popped along to Wychwood Festival in Cheltenham to host their annual RSL, Wychwood 87.7 as I sent my last email. I have three years of very fond memories both at the University of Gloucestershire and its student radio station, Tone. I presented silly shows with friends, helped throw French-themed fundraisers, and re-kitted the studio with new and expensive gear paid for in part by a range of award-winning cider.
I didn’t get the chance to listen to any of Wychwood FM but knowing the team behind them, I’m sure they aced it. Here’s a photo from my time there in 2016...
I blagged some VIP tickets via the BBC to Gloucester’s Tall Ships Festival. If you paid the £10 ticket price, you got to go on some boats in the rain and shop at what looked like a car boot sale. I don’t do star ratings but for a tenner a head, Gloucester Tall Ships festival would get zero.
I saw comedian Al Murray at the New Theatre in Oxford on June 5th. Close to the nose (as you’d expect from Murray’s Pub Landlord character) but falling on the right side of funny. Murray is quick in linking his pre-written routine with bits from the audience – and then covering them in alcohol. If you're at the Edinburgh Festival this August, the show, Land of Hope and Glory, is there.
Kristyna Baczynski does something very similar to me for her Patreon subscribers – but it’s illustrated! Twelve months of her life are presented in single page drawings, each done in less than a day from a list of key events. I love how they look –
What I've been reading:
I finished Hatching Twitter by Nick Bolton, a damning account of the early days of the social network. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the book was the fact that a lot of the history was stitched together with tweets sent on the platform. ‘Calling my parents,’ co-founder Jack Dorsey shared on the social network he helped build as he received news he was about to be ousted by his friends from that same company...
I purchased some additional Audible credits and downloaded a couple more audio books. Right now I’m listening to Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker and How to Break Up with Your Phone by Catherine Price. Downloaded and ready to go, I also have Dr. Qing Li’s Shinrin-Yoku (which translates as ‘forest bathing’).
Here’s a further list of articles from the past month I’ve found enlightening:
- WeChat and the Surveillance State from BBC News
- 700 further artists affected by Universal warehouse fire from the Guardian (more on making backups in the 'What I've been liking' section)
- Ice-cream truck makes Instagram 'stars' pay double from the Guardian
- Films condensed into a single frame – in pictures from the Guardian
- What went right? January-June 2019 from Positive News
- How to be a good citizen from Monocole, July/August 2019
What I've been writing about:
Since July 2016, I’ve been setting my tweets to self-destruct. Three years in,I’ve written a blog post sharing some thoughts on the practice. It’s all about what I’ve learned (about myself and about social media) and why I think you should delete your posts too.
I've also written some notes on notebooks, which features some impressive photos of Alan Rusbridger's huge collection of Moleskine notebooks.
I've got some more posts queued up for this month.
I’ve been interviewing the guys behind My Morning Routine and writing my own. That's scheduled for July 20th.
Here's an extract from 'Donating 1%', which is scheduled for August 1st. Remember to follow me on Twitter for new posts.
I think one of the most hands-on ways a person can affect change and support a cause they believe in is by funding it. Giving regularly not only helps protect the causes you care about, it helps charities plan ahead and make long term investments and improvements that change the world and the lives of people on it.
I donate 1% of my income to causes I believe in, an idea I stole from US environmental charity 1% for The Planet. If you’re looking for some ideas on where you can send your money, this list might be a good start.
What I've been watching:
I saw Yesterday, uh, yesterday. I've heard mixed reviews from friends and family but I thought it was a good movie. I don't want to issue spoilers – see it in the cinema so you get the best sound quality.
I’ve also been enjoying Wimbledon on the telly. Nothing heralds the start of summer more than watching a game I don’t understand: as a kid it reminded me that the summer holidays and six weeks of freedom were just around the corner. I just love the colours of Wimbledon and how slow tennis feels.
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 on this domain. I've turned down three of these opportunities this month because I think people who accept these things to provide a ‘recommendation’ — even when they’re transparent about the fact they’ve received compensation — are boasting that their integrity and honesty depends on remuneration.
I picked up an iPad from the store in Covent Garden. I specifically purchased it as an ‘offline iPhone’. The iPad requires some more steps to get it connected to the internet so I only do that when I really need to. It means I can work on things within Apple’s ecosystem, which is where all my stuff is, without distracting myself. An iPhone isn’t good enough for writing but it works exceptionally well where a laptop would be overkill.
Whilst I was collecting it, the guy told me about Wahlburgers, Mark Wahlberg and family’s burger joint, which just opened its first UK store around the corner. It’s everything you’d expect from a modern American diner slash sports bar. The burgers are good and service is quick, making it a great place for us to go to lunch one day if you’re near Covent Garden at any point soon and that strikes your fancy.
A huge shout-out to the team behind Ghost(Pro), the platform my website is hosted on. At almost $40 a month it isn’t the cheapest way to get online but with round-the-clock technical support and the knowledge that I’m helping to support an open source platform, it’s money well spent. If you’re looking for a lightweight content management system that gets out of the way, leaving you to write what you like, Ghost is it. It’s also quick: 1,900% faster than Wordpress.
I purchased a couple of bars of Tony’s Chocolonely as token gifts recently. The bars are Fairtrade certified and the company exists to end slavery in the chocolate industry, making them a present with social impact too. As such, you pay a slight premium but the chocolate’s delicious and you get a seriously big bar for your cash. The packaging is also made of paper, so is recyclable, and looks great. My local farm shop sells bars for a fiver but you can buy them direct for £4.
I love a social enterprise and Not Just a Shop in Holborn, London, is a great place to pick up gifts too. Open to the public, Not Just a Shop sells design products and artwork created by University of The Arts London students and alumni.
I’ve hooked by Mac and MacBook Air up to Backblaze, the cloud backup platform. For $6 a month, they’ll quietly back up your entire machine to the cloud around-the-clock and mail you a hard drive should catastrophe strike. It’s perfect for the person on-the-fly that doesn’t have time to sit and do a sixty-minute Time Machine backup once a week.
What I've been listening to:
In writing my blog post about self-destructing tweets, I stumbled upon the Anti-Social Social Media podcast. They have some good interviewees but the production and presentation style is too 'commercial radio' for my liking. It’s a good listen though, if you’re after something new.
Described by The Telegraph as ‘an 18-hour Black Mirror episode inside Thom Yorke's head’, Radiohead released MiniDiscs [HACKED] on Bandcamp in the middle of the month. I’ve never been a massive Radiohead fan but as they came to form in my hometown, I feel somewhat closely connected to them. They recorded their debut album OK Computer in a converted apple shead just down the road from my house and there’s a photograph of the band standing in front of Didcot Power Station at what looks to be the end of my garden in 1997! As for MiniDiscs [HACKED], I’ve written in the past about how I find the creative process more interesting than the creative output. They could have released this as a commercial album – perhaps part of a Radiohead retrospective – and people would have looked at it like any other.
I’m working on a couple of projects at the moment, all of which are physical things. In a world where your phone acts as an omnidevice, I believe there’s still room for beautifully designed, single-purpose items. My ONEYEARCLOCK is proof of that.
Right now, I’m making the world’s most simple radio. It has one physical button that controls everything – power, volume, and searching through stations. There’s no display and there’s one intentional quirk: you have no way to select a station. Hit the button and you’ll be delivered a radio station on shuffle. Think of it like Radio Garden meets safe-for-work Chatroulette in a gorgeous box on your desk.
I’m also building a stool that doubles as a place to store memories. Post photographs, wristbands, maps, and other paraphernalia through the hole in the top so it’s out of the way and stored in an object that serves a function. Over time, the contents of the stool becomes worth more than the stool itself. When you’re ready, smash through the side of the stool to retrieve what you’ve stored.
If you think you can help in any way or want to be involved, send me a direct message on Twitter.