I’ve become somewhat of a backyard tourist since my last newsletter. In the past month I’ve gone to National Trust site Basildon Park which has a great woodland walk and house to explore and Oxford University’s Arboretum where I saw the first glimpse of autumn in the leaves. Whittenham Clumps, managed by the Earth Trust and less than two miles from home, provides great views over the Oxfordshire countryside too.
Here’s what else I’ve been up to recently...
What I’ve been writing about
I left Monzo, the bank account that lives on your smartphone, at the end of August. I initiated a Current Account Switch and moved the account into one with a so-called 'legacy bank'. Find out why by reading my latest blog post; I think the thing I highlight is going to become a real problem for them (and other challenger banks) as legacy ones close in.
I stumbled upon a break-in at the office a few weeks ago. It was a sloppy but effective act — a brick through the window and out with some iMacs. I wrote about what you can do before a theft to protect your gear, and what you should do if you find out you’ve been the victim of one.
What I’ve been reading
I tried to buy a copy of GQ a fortnight ago and for the life of me, I can’t tell if I was late doing so and therefore missed the issue I wanted, or, as I suspect, GQ make multiple covers for the same issue. Suffice to say, I didn’t pick up a copy because I didn’t know if the one with David Beckham on the cover, which came in two different sizes, was the same issue as the one with a female model on the cover, and if either of them were the same as the one I actually wanted to pick up. GQ either need to contact their stockists and make sure the most recent issue is on display or heavily simplify their covers...
I hope you all completed your homework and watched The Great Hack, a documentary I recommended in the previous newsletter. In related news, The Verge released a transcript and audio of an internal Facebook meeting on October 1st. All companies have combative internal dialogues – us vs. the outside world – but what's interesting is how its CEO frames the criticism and pressures that Facebook is under and that Facebook supposedly spends the same amount of money on safety than Twitter makes per annum...
This Medium post by Alastair Parvin about the need for a new kind of social contract is enlightening. It reminds me of the final page of Extinction Rebellion's book, This Is Not A Drill, which features a social contract with the memo to rip it out of the book and join Extinction Rebellion if you believe it has been broken. I'm looking forward to their protests, which start tomorrow.
On a similar note, and although I'm yet to really dig in to it, I picked up How Democracy Ends by David Runciman at Blackwells in Holborn last week.
What I’ve been listening to
HalfNoise’s latest album Natural Disguise came out on Friday. HalfNoise’s lead, Zac Farro, is 1/3rd of Paramore’s current line up. If you liked After Laughter or Hellogoodbye’s S’Only Natural album that I’ve written about before, you’ll enjoy this. It's fun.
I really like the concept behind Ludovico Einaudi's latest series of albums, Seven Days Walking. The series consists of seven full length albums released over seven consecutive months. A playlist of all the albums (six hours and fifteen minutes long) is the best way to enjoy this and I really like how patterns of music circle back, evolving as the playlist continues.
Seven Days Walking reminds me a lot of Brian Eno’s album January 07003, the liner notes of which I’ve been re-reading as I work on a project similar to ONEYEARCLOCK to mark the new decade.
What I’ve been watching
I’ve been watching some YouTubers who have their own take on vlogging, beyond the cringeworthy “haaaiii guys!” trope we hear so often in the West. 슛뚜sueddu’s vlogs are gentle and carefully paced. She demonstrates how you can be an effective storyteller without any speech or even including yourself in the story.
Shane Dawson continues to produce long form documentary content that flies in the face of the frivolous. His latest series is about beauty entrepreneur Jeffrey Star, with nods to cancel culture and social media drama. It’s a good watch if you have an hour to spare and amassed over 5 million views in less than 9 hours.
What I’ve been liking
For the first time, I’m revoking praise for something I’ve written about in this newsletter. Curve, the ‘one card for all your cards’ that I wrote about in Recently #10, suffers so many outages that it’s no longer a reliable product. Sorry Curve, but you can’t market yourself as ‘one card for all your cards’ when you have to repeatedly encourage users to carry a back-up. Now that Open Banking standards have been introduced, I expect we’ll see challenger banks (including the one I left!) wrestle for the space Curve has crafted and importantly beat their execution of it.
I’m impressed with Boots’ online pharmacy. I ordered a refill of some acne treatment on a private prescription at 8pm one evening and within the hour a qualified pharmacist had approved the order and I had a tracking number for the parcel. It was through my letterbox in no time at all. Being a private prescription, the medication was 4 times costlier than the NHS’ standard £9 charge but it’s a price worth paying for the ease of the service. For any NHS prescriptions, I like Echo, run by Lloyds.
My grandfather used to run a tailoring company called Hatton Dandy in the 1970’s, mainly making cravats and supplying Cheltenham’s famous, The Famous. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon one in a vintage shop called Sartorial Matters. Of course, I purchased it. It’s garish, and I don’t think I’ll ever wear it, but it’s a nice memento to have.
In Oxford, my girlfriend and I tried some experimental perfumes including the Escentric Molecule collection that we found in Burrows and Hare. Escentric Molecule perfumes are designed to be scentless until they react with the natural oils on your skin, at which point the spray will begin to come out and create you a personal variant of its scent. For this reason, you might want to visit the store and sample it a few times before splashing out on a bottle. I like how 02 reacts on my skin. We also liked the concept behind Guerrilla Perfume’s Breath of God, which is comprised of two separate scented perfume oils, Inhale and Exhale, that when combined form this entirely new, third scent.
That's all for now!
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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.