It feels like a new beginning is round the corner, right? We’re on some kind of strange summer holiday now (and I will be too, for a long weekend, from this afternoon!), but that back-to-school feeling never fails to strike when September starts to appear on the horizon.
I’ve been attending The London Writer’s Salon’s Writer’s Hours* pretty regularly for the past few weeks, free-writing first thing in the morning when I can, and trying to reset my natural night owl body clock to make sure I’m awake an vaguely alert for 8am when the first hour starts (they now have three a day!).
Last week, when it was so hot first thing in the morning that I could set up my laptop out on the balcony before 8am, they let me read out one of my favourite passages about writing:
“We are all whispering in a tin can on a string, but we are heard, so we whisper the message into the next tin can and the next string. Writing a book, just like building a library, is an act of sheer defiance. It is a declaration that you believe in the persistence of memory.”
At a moment when a huge structural change came to mind for what I thought was the memoir / non-fiction book, making it much more fictional, I’m just trying to free-write through it, and beginning to understand that this might take a lot longer than I’d imagined. As much as I feel like I want to ignore the tin can and the string every morning, I’m battling through that feeling. I’m choosing defiance (and a lot of caffeine).
Funny Women asked me for my comedy influences, and the question made me go back to watch Goodness Gracious Me’s “Going out for an English” sketch, which absolutely still stands up. Sometimes comedy is as just as simple as reversing the familiar:
I also took part in a Times Radio panel on The Future of Comedy this week, with Don Ward, co-founder of The Comedy Store, and Steve N Allen, who’s on the BBC’s The Mash Report, and is a stand-up who tours in more normal times.
Steve and Don sounded much wearier about the state of the comedy industry in lockdown than I was, which makes sense - they know much, much more about the business side of things, and the pandemic has had its financial impact upon their work. By contrast, my introduction to the comedy world in this very odd year has been warm, albeit most often through a screen.
At the end of the chat, we each give the health of the comedy industry right now a mark out of 10. I go pretty high, and I have my reasons - it’s also really worth hearing why Don and Steve disagree.
You can listen back to the whole discussion here, the segment’s from about 5 minutes in, and it goes on for about 25 minutes.
I’m a judge this year, and I’m really looking forward to it.
If you’re thinking about entering, make sure you check the rules (the third pic in the Instagram album below) to see if you qualify for having the entry fees waived. I know that would’ve made a huge difference for me in the past.
Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book (and podcast about the book) was certainly ahead of its time. Now that so many people are looking to her work to explain why the world is the way that it is, it’s fascinating to see glimpses of what it’s been like to be her. This tweet says so much; and yes you should click through to Nikesh Shukla’s short, to-the-point, Eddo-Lodge-approved review.
tortoise @tortoise“It had been a while since something had come along and presented a case for why the racism conversation itself is rigged.”
@nikeshshukla on the enduring lessons of @renireni’s seminal book ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’.
Sometimes a piece comes along that you damn well wish you wrote, and this is that one for me
An incredible, positive twist in this refugee’s tale - New Zealand showing up all the other countries, as per
As has been noted in this newsletter on more than one occasion, I love Amber Ruffin and I will watch anything she does
Twitter thread about refugees debunking an earlier, extremely questionable Twitter thread about refugees:
If you have strong opinions on how to cook rice, you might need to get involved: How Comedian Nigel Ng Became the Internet’s Favorite Asian Uncle
They DM’ed me goodnight for some reason. A true sign that I need to log off for a bit (well… maybe not Instagram). I’ll write again soon, byeee x