I've written before about the Blewbury Players, a local amateur dramatics group that hold a production in a gorgeous little garden theatre every year. This year, I enjoyed a staging of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, all about the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690's and an allegory for McCarthyism.
The tale of The Crucible is just as relevant today as it was when it was written in 1953. There was no hint of modernity in the Blewbury Players' rendition but a modern-day version told through the lens of news cameras and social media would make for an interesting interpretation! Netflix, give me a ring.
What I've been reading
Alas, I haven't read The Crucible since I was at school in 2011. Here's what I have been reading though –
The latest copies of Positive News and Delayed Gratification landed through my letterbox earlier in the month and I've been enjoying those. With the Guardian reporting that 32% of people now actively avoid the news because of how glum it makes people feel, these publications go some way to keeping me in the loop without dragging me into a depressing news cycle. They tackle the serious journalism that news publications must, without being bleak in their outlook.
After a stint of buying digital books, I've gone back to paper, mainly so I can pass them on when I'm finished reading them. I picked up This Is Not A Drill, the Penguin published book from Extinction Rebellion. It's a collection of essays on the climate crisis followed by accounts of their action so far. I particularly like essay 25, which is about how companies need restructuring if they're going to be fit for the future. It reminded me of the time I ran a social enterprise.
I've also been reading climate activist Greta Thunberg's book, No One is Too Small to Make a Difference. It's a quick read at only 80 pages and contains 11 speeches about global warming and climate change.
On Friday, Andrew Bolt published a column in Australia's Herald Sun about Greta, who, by the way, is a sixteen year-old girl with Aspergers. In his column, Bolt states that he has 'never seen a girl so young and with so many mental disorders treated [...] as a guru.' Wow. I have never seen a man as flimsy as Andrew Bolt, a convicted racist and someone who picks on children and their disabilities. One of them is on the right side of history – no prizes for guessing which one.
What I've been listening to
Greta made her musical debut on The 1975's newest self-titled song.
At Fun Kids, the UK's children's radio station, we launched a brand new station for pre-schoolers at the start of the summer holidays. It's called Fun Kids Junior and it's available on DAB Digital Radio in London and the South East and all the usual online places.
Apple have created a host of new podcast categories and are retiring some old ones. Better and more niche categorisation means things are a lot easier to find. This led me to exploring the categories and enjoying a pick'n'mix of different podcasts. I'll let you know some of my favourites in an upcoming newsletter. For now, check out Stories for Kids and Education for Kids!
What I've been writing about
I spoke to the people behind My Morning Routine, a website that curates the routines of well known people to find out how they start their day, and wrote my own.
I also wrote about how I donate 1% of my earnings to charity each month, an idea I stole from US environmental charity 1% For The Planet. I believe the most hands-on way of affecting change is by funding it and with schemes like gift-aid, my humble donations are quickly worth 25% more. I split my 1% between four charities: Greenpeace, WaterAid, Cool Earth and the people who take care of Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation.
I've been writing about some of my favourite places to get coffee in London and beyond, which publishes soon. I've also been detailing my thoughts on tools that make life more private and secure as I move away from things like Dropbox to services like Tresorit, which are end-to-end encrypted and built in a way so that even the companies don't know what you're hosting.
Make sure you follow me on Twitter so you know when they're ready to read.
What I've been liking:
The usual disclaimer: I am being given nothing nor paid anything to write about these companies. I'm mentioning them because I find value in what they're doing and hope you do too.
In the heat we've been having, the opportunity to freshen-up halfway through the day is a godsend. Keeping a small bottle or single-use sachet of mouthwash (UltraDex for me) in your desk draw goes a surprising way to making you feel good after lunch.
I popped along to an improv comedy night with some colleagues to see another colleague perform. The night was good! If you're looking for a pub near Picadilly, I can recommend the Comedy Pub. Pay close attention to the names on the till. I was served by Chub and French Harry Potter. I'll let you imagine what they looked like.
I've been packing light recently, frequently taking nothing but my Bellroy Essentials Pouch, phone, and headphones into work. Bellroy appear to have retired the Essentials Pouch which is a shame because it's a fantastic product that has lasted me many years already. I'll be sure to eek the most I can out of the thing before I end up replacing it with something from their newer range.
I've been playing with money apps, including revisiting some features of smartphone bank Monzo that I didn't use previously. I don't particularly see the benefit of their new service, Monzo Plus. For £6 a month, you'll get 1.5% interest on your balance up to £4,000 (which is £12 short of breaking-even with the membership fee), a new card with 'Plus' written on it, a custom monzo.me username (I'm /adamstoner but I'm not a Monzo Plus member) and some token discounts that are also available elsewhere. I'm also worried at their claim that they'll grant extra security features like single-use card numbers to Monzo Plus members but not roll them out to all. Security should never be a paid-for feature!
I did sign up to the investing app Moneybox a few weeks ago thanks to the fact they now offer Socially Responsible Investing which allows you to invest in companies with better environmental, social and governance practices. Simply connect your bank accounts to the app and it'll round-up any transactions and invest the difference. Spent £2.70 on coffee? Invest 30p. I'm actually opting for weekly and monthly deposits instead but the functionality remains fantastic. As you know, the value of investments can go up and down so it's important to only invest what you can afford to lose but for someone just starting out this seems like both a safe and user-friendly option. They've also got a market leading interest rate on Lifetime ISAs: 1.4% on-top of the 25% you can get from the Government.
In my quest to find tools that are safer and more private, I stumbled upon Standard Notes, the free, open-source, and completely encrypted notes app. I particularly liked their longevity statementand their privacy manifesto which is why I've shelled out £130 for a five-year subscription. I wish more companies did contracts of that length or introduced 'Lifetime' options where it's possible to pay a single fee and unlock access forever.
Alright, that's all for now. Until next 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.