As hospitality and service sectors both in the UK and around the world reopen, it feels a little like the theatre curtain is lifting – not after interval (with sticky ice-cream fingers and some slight discomfort because the line for the restroom was too long to even bother) – but at the start of the show.
The return to normality has been most marked by the headlines. For the first time in almost a year, we're seeing stories other than death-counts and carefully choreographed press conferences. Stuck ships, super leagues, and lobbying seemed to be the flavour of this month. And whilst the news is hardly ever good, it is very much good news to have other bad news in the news...
Making the most of the relaxed restrictions, I've gone to a VR gaming centre, done archery, roamed through forests, and even rode a heritage railway in the Forest of Dean in the past fortnight. Lots of those exploits are coming to Activity Quest, the podcast I produce at Fun Kids, soon.
Here's what else I've been up to this month:
The bells of the local church tolled 99 times for Prince Philip's funeral on April 17th leading to an odd dichotomy of muted (and mistimed) ringing against birdsong and sunshine. I wrote about his death hours after it happened, reflecting on 'the almost disaster-movie-like interruption of the media schedule for it' and how Philip serves as a poignant memento mori. You can read that at adamstoner.com/death.
I also wrote about changing your mind and doing so publicly. We live in an age of increasing polarisation – and if there's one thing the internet doesn't do very well, it's nuance – but I think there's a certain vulnerability in accepting that opinions and people change over time (and sometimes from one week to the next). Read that at /changing.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about the future of blogs and personal websites in the age of podcasting and other platforms. I've got a good track record for predicting with fair accuracy where these kinds of things are heading and newsletters-as-social media (hi 👋) and platforms like Facebook and Twitter repositioning audio as a first class citizen makes me question why anyone would bother creating a personal website in 2021 – just use a podcast feed.
Someone who's been thinking similar things of recent is YouTuber Kraig Adams. His podcast is an interesting listen. Streamed first on Twitch with questions fielded from fad app Clubhouse, it blends radio phone-in with as-live commentary and semi-scripted anecdotes. It also means Twitch sound-effects like messages accompanied by donations (which are read out automatically in a robotic voice), and new subscribers are forever burned into the audio.
Elsewhere in the audio world, Lana Del Rey released Chemtrails Over The Country Club not that long ago and Vampire Weekend released two 20 minute, 21 second remixes of their song 2021, in an EP called 4042. I quite like it.
In the world of newsletters, photographer Noah Kalina's one is witty and weekly. This month, he drove with his chicken to the idyllic sounding Pepperidge Farm (spoiler alert: just a brand name), shared some beautiful shots of a local river he's been time-lapsing, and wrote about a wall.
I've also been reading Konfekt – the female-targeted equivelent of Monocle – landed on my doorstep with a literal thud. It's 205 pages of culture, dining, travel and design in a MacBook Air sized mag. I know it's MacBook Air sized because its acted at times as a stand for my new M1 MacBook Air...
The M1 is Apple's first chip in a computer and my new M1 Air is lightning fast. Even apps that aren't yet supported on Apple's chip (some of which are made by multi-million dollar companies like Adobe and Avid – poor show, there's very little excuse, certainly all these months after the M1 was released) work faster than their Intel counterparts. Overall, I'm very happy with it.
Finally, this past weekend marked a milestone birthday for my Dad. We built an arbour and played croquet to celebrate.