Well, hello there.
I seem to have developed a nasty case of figuring out what I want to do with my writing and then freezing and not doing any writing, and I don't like it. So here's me trying another format that might provide the right mix of freedom and constraint, giving me space and permission to write, while keeping it focussed and developmental. I'm inspired this time by Jay's Weeknotes, which I enjoy getting every Sunday even if I'm not interested in half of it because it's built to skim.
What I've been up to
After being on furlough for a shocking seven months I'm back at Loaf on my regular hours from November, which will be a relief. But since the furlough scheme had a loophole which allowed me to do some hours in an R&D capacity, I've been doing business development with a smal group and mentoring from Coops UK. It's been an eye-opener, drawing up a full budget and plan for 2021 that overhauls how Loaf operates given we can't profitably teach people in our kitchen classroom during the pandemic. It's involved a lot of discussions too, since we're a workers cooperative, making sure that everyone is able to make an informed decision about the future of our business regardless of their level of interest in the financial planning side. It's amusing to me that I'm only just discovering I'm quite good at this in my mid-40s.
Speaking of mid-40s, I've had a cough since August and after two negative Covid tests I got in touch with the doctor. She thinks it's probably some kind of acid reflux thingy common to folks my age so I'm on Lansoprazole for a couple of months, which seem to be knocking me out a bit, like shitty sleeping pills. Which would be great if I wasn't taking them in the morning. But the good news is the cough has lessened.
I also had a chest X-ray this week, just to be safe. The last time I had an X-ray at the QE it involved lots of waiting around in rooms and corridors. This time I was in and out in 10 minutes, tops. They really don't want people hanging around in there these days! After than I walked home along the canal, which was nice, and then slept for three hours, because Lansoprazole.
Fi and I went on our first Date Night since February. Date Night is something long-term couples are advised to do to remind them why they became long-term couples. We'd been pretty wary of restaurants but Alicias have converted their back yard into an outdoor eating space and their pizzas are SO good, so we went for it. And it was great.
Sunset Social Club, one of the art jobs I had lined up before lockdown wiped out my freelance career, has been resurrected, albeit in a more distanced fashion. I'm heading with my camera up to Druids Heath, on the edge of Birmingham, whenever there's a good sunset and local folk are welcome to join me. More info here and I'm putting my pics in this Flickr album.
What I've been watching
I really enjoyed Lovecraft Country, which ended this week. I think I'm going to have to write something long-ish about how it employed magic to talk about how language is used to oppress depower. My brain was so bubbly I even farted my theory in the Guardian recap's comments. (Sky/NowTV).
I introduced Fi to Star Trek: Discovery which has gone down well. We started season two this week and that first episode is quite bonkers – all that crazy shit happens and then Tig Notaro appears! Meanwhile I've started season 3, because I have no self-control, and I think it's going to be a metaphor for taking democratic institutions for granted in the face of emergent autocracies. (Netflix)
I do like a heavy-handed metaphor in my televisual entertainment.
What I've been reading
I switched my Read Later service to Instapaper last week and am much preferring it to Pocket. (Instapaper went bad a few years ago but has been bought out by the workers and it good again). As usual I've been reading A LOT but I don't think those long links posts were particularly useful, so I'm going to refer you to my Instapaper profile for the last 20 things I faved and just pick a handful for here.
Explaining Brexit to Americans Part II by Alina Utrata is equal parts hilarious, infuriating and illuminating. Especially if the spectre of the Covid has caused you to forget this is all about to kick off again in a few months.
Revolution and American Indians: "Marxism is as Alien to My Culture as Capitalism". This speech by Russell Means from 1980 is essential reading in itself but also ties nicely into thoughts I've been having about our somewhat myopic view of the European Enlightenment which, sure, was generally a good thing, but it wasn't the only thing. Means' view of the squabbles within European thought as being equally alien to him feel important as we squirm out of late-Capitalism into something… else. See also Silvia Federici's Caliban and the Witch and, possibly, William Kempe
QAnon Conspiracy Theories Are Driving Families Apart. Is it notable that the older generation seems more susceptible to conspiracies these days? Are the youngs better at navigating this stuff? Or does this wave of conspiracies just appeal to the small-c conservative mindset that you find in the parental generation? And what do you do if you're a reasonably level headed kid who's watching the people who brought you up descend into kooksville?
What I'm listening to
New Mountain Goats album! Getting Into Knives dropped this week and it's a great Mountain Goats album. If you like the Mountain Goats you'll like this!
Live Music For A Time Without Stages is a 20 hour playlist of live tracks, specifically those live tracks where the gig really kicks into another gear. Worth dipping into for some needed energy.
What I'd like to know
So, you've read, or skimmed, to the end of this email, which means you like my writing to some degree. What do you want me to write about? I'm not saying I will write about it, but I'm genuinely intrigued. Personal stuff? Art stuff? Counterculture stuff? Internet stuff? Other stuff?
Let me know!