I feel that the past few weeks have revealed my inner caveman. The simple fact that it’s darker later and (somewhat) warmer has lifted my mood immeasurably, opening the possibility of an evening walk(!!) as a post-work-non-sofa activity.
Lockdown restrictions have somewhat eased, though are limited to going shopping and doing “outdoor culture”. Zoos are back, but not yet restaurants/ museums etc.
The news channels in Denmark are awash with a trip the Danish PM took to Israel to form a vaccine development plan with Benjamin Netanyahu and the Austrian PM (she’s receiving some heat for it).
Quiz question: can you rank the three countries by population?
Answer below. Before then, this month’s newsletter…
Things I’ve been thinking about last month
This month my girlfriend and I did some couples therapy sessions with a therapist.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with our relationship, but we thought it would be good idea to “fix the roof whilst the sun is still shining” (or at least check for leaks). Now seemed as good a time as any.
One thing we struggled with was what to call it. We were technically seeing a therapist, but it was less about resolving a specific ailment, and more the opportunity to speak to an expert about any little things we need to address before they compound into big things.
Anyway, the concept of seeing a therapist seems to receiving less stigma than in previous times where one (I hear) kept quiet about seeing a shrink. I wonder if, as the function of speaking to a professional about your mental/ relationship wellbeing expands (side note: it’s big in Argentina) a new word will be necessary…
If you’re interested, it was dead simple to organise. We basically looked through this database, reached out to the ones we liked and did a few Zoom calls.
Giving up on books
Less in a general sense and more specifically deciding to stop reading a book.
As a general stance, I’m very much in favour of giving on books that don’t seem interesting/ exciting any more. I appreciate this is an unsolicited soapbox moment, but I feel like the idea of perseverance being a virtue is something people (myself included) hold on to for too long and overshadows other qualities (e.g. changing ones mind when the facts change).
It seems like when you’re a child perseverance a good lesson to learn to e.g. to see the fruits of seeing something through to completion. But so often as adults people seem to hold on this idea of struggling through something rubbish is somehow virtuous.
Personally, I find books/ concepts like “Grit” pretty frustrating and they seem to be glamourising the notion that people should stick at doing lots of shitty things because working through the struggles “is what successful people do”.
It might be true, but a lot of struggles (like keeping to a commitment to read a mediocre book) seem pretty pointless, to me at least, in the grand scheme of things when you could be doing something much more enjoyable.
There are so many gripping books out there, so (if it’s a pleasure activity) why not just move on to the next if it’s not taking your fancy..?
One strategy of this is to read the first 100 pages (or 100 pages minus your age) before deciding whether to read the rest of the book.
Maybe I’m overthinking all of this… I’d be interested to hear any thoughts!
A selection of podcasts etc. I’ve enjoyed recently. You can subscribe to my podcast recommendations here.
- Magical Medical Noses | Unconditional Love Stories: this is an episode from “the dog podcast” I have mentioned in previous newsletters. The show is all about the bond between dogs and humans, and has been a treat to work on/ We launched the show on Valentine’s Day (cute, I know) and this episode in particular is about a charity that trains dogs to detect cancer. Pretty amazing stuff. Side note, if you listen and like it, any ratings/ reviews would be much appreciated
- The King of Tears | Revisionist History: I’ve never thought about country music this way before
- Two Million Years in Two Hours | Your Undivided Attention: Yuval Noah Harari in conversation with the guy behind The Social Dilemma (how big tech is more dangerous than we realise). It’s long, but very interesting and brings up genuinely interesting philosophical implications of being more connected with devices etc.
- Helena Bonham Carter | Grounded with Louis Theroux: this was a nice conversation to have on in the background whilst cooking
- Girl, Woman, Other | Bernandine Evaristo: a novel profiling different black British women in the UK. The stories are woven together and cover all kinds of twists and turns. It’s a good reminder that everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about
- Alexander Hamilton | Ron Chernow: this has been an education in American history ~1760-1790 (I’ve not finished it yet). See context in Watching
- Wait For It | Song Exploder (Netflix): I’ve described this show before in its podcast form, but it’s also on Netflix. The host deconstructs a song with the artist which gives a whole new appreciation for what’s been made. This is an investigation into how one of the main songs of the musical Hamilton was made. After watching, my girlfriend and I felt we had to now watch the musical (but not before seeing how the main actor, Lin-Manual Miranda, is phenomenal at freestyle rapping)
- Hamilton | Disney+: we were kind of hoping it would be “pretty good” so as to not get caught in the hype around the hip hop musical portraying the life of an American Founding Father. Annoyingly (sort of), we found it awesome. Strong recommendation if you fancy something a bit different. We found it better with subtitles.
- The Vanishing at The Cecil Hotel | Netflix: this starts off feeling a bit over an overproduced true crime documentary, but brings in some really interesting dimensions by the end. Tragic, in any case
- Small Axe | BBC (also on DR): short series depicting racism in the UK during the 1960/70/80s. Uncomfortable to think how recent it was. Hopefully a thing of the past.
🙃 For fun
- Rishi Sunak explaining his love of Coca-Cola to two teenagers: #AccidentalPatridge might be my new favourite hashtag
- The three populations: Israel (9m), Austria (8.85m), Denmark (5.8m). Side note, the Austrian chancellor is 34 (youngest head of state in the world)