Thanks very much to everyone who has listened to the first episode of my new podcast, Shedunnit, and left nice reviews and comments. I know some of you have come from this newsletter, and that makes me really happy. If you haven’t tried it yet, but you are interested in books by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Gladys Mitchell, Ngaio Marsh etc, do give it a try.
Things to read
“For nearly her whole career, Cira Robinson has — like many ballet dancers of color — performed a ritual: painting her point shoes to match her skin. She did it first in 2001, when she was 15, at a summer program with Dance Theater of Harlem. The company said her shoes needed to be brown, not the traditional pink, but she couldn’t find any in stores, so she used spray paint. ‘It made them crunchy and just. . . ew,’ she said in a telephone interview.”
—I’m so interested in how ballet is finally realising dancing isn’t just a white pastime. Email to Pocket.
“It is fair to say that Fisher wasn’t the everywoman’s food writer. An entire book dedicated to oysters is not the most vital or accessible text of our time. She acknowledges, if only obliquely, the narrowness of the audience for whom she writes when she comments that “oysters are very unsatisfactory food for labouring men, but will do for the sedentary.” On the topic of mass-market cookbooks, she describes having to toss back a glass of dry vermouth just to be able to face them. “The trick worked its… magic, and I felt only an occasional wave of hysteria as I read [them].” A reactionary streak runs deep through Fisher’s writing and she was clearly unsettled by the introduction of cheap, factory-made foodstuffs to the American post-War marketplace.”
—I learned a lot from this piece about the US food writer MFK Fisher. Email to Pocket.
“From 1965 to 2011, Mrs. Davis also published an annual newsletter, Highlights and Lowlights, that covered corporate meetings, shareholder proposals and most anything else on Mrs. Davis’s mind. The price varied, but lingered around $600 — and Mrs. Davis required that her customers, mainly CEOs, purchase no fewer than two copies per order.”
—The obituary of a newsletter icon. Email to Pocket.
“The question is, then, who is this book is for? If you are young enough not to know about spare toilet rolls and spring cleaning, you are probably too young to have your own pantry and be hosting dinner parties with table runners. It feels at once remarkably cynical and utterly removed from the reality of most young people’s lives. Or perhaps it is the truest reflection of the Instagram generation, yet – just a big, pretty, hollow collection of paper garlands, sprigged cocktails and pugs in party hats, all rattling around seeking approval.”
—This take on Zoella’s book is both very funny and quite worrying. Email to Pocket.
“If you’ve ever watched a horror movie, you know that the star psychopath wins mostly because he’s playing by psycho rules and the victims are playing by normal-people rules. So your office Michael Myers comes knocking at your front door and you invite him in for tea. Every day he’s stomping all over you! Yet here you still think he’s like you on the inside. He’s a Murderbot 6000. He’s a misprogrammed goon who’s out to get you. Let’s talk about your choices! You’re “nicer to him” than everyone else? You’re acting like the office is a day care center and it’s time to share blocks, yet this guy is running around with a chain saw. Tell him firmly, once, what you need. Second time, send an officewide email that says, “Babadook here keeps ‘forgetting’ to add me to these meetings, can you help him remember?” Third time, roll up on his office and start straight-up yelling. It’s time to misbehave.”
—Reading this has made me realise that I really, really want to write a workplace agony aunt column. If you want to publish that. . . hit me up. Email to Pocket.
Things to listen to
I’ve been trying out Proof, a new cooking podcast. I’m suddenly very into food podcasts of all kind, actually. Maybe it’s the time of year.
And obviously, my new podcast, you should be listening to that, duh.
Things to watch
Stop skipping the credits!
Compulsory medieval thingamabob
“This is more of a statement than a question. . .”
The guest gif
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a parable for our modern age.