Podcast of the week

The Lifestyle Edit Podcast (not to be confused with another podcast that is just called “The lifestyle edit” and had two women – Rosie and Flo – talking about life in a robustly jolly, Claire Baldwin-ish manner) by Naomi Mdudu is a regular listen & one guaranteed to leave you feeling fired up in the best possible way after listening.

Each week, Naomi interviews a female business owner about how they found their business idea, what made them go solo on it, how they’ve built their business and what tips they’d share with their entrepreneurs. It’s as far away from The Apprentice and macho, ghostwritten memoirs as you can imagine.

Instead you’ll come away with gems that help you decide when to take views and when to have confidence to do it your way; how to think about the financials behind your business (not all will apply, but it’s the fact that there are different models that make these interviews useful to me) and tips to help you identify the best opportunities for you. Some I loved recently were:

– The interview with Anna Hart (*so impressive*)

– the concept of looking for flexibility that is inherent and that which is on offer as an option

– the point that flexible working needs apply just as much to non-parents looking after ageing baby boomers as it does to parents

– the question “what would the village idiot say your brand is?”

– the idea that a recurring client doesn’t just help financially, but also with defining what your business is and does

So many gems here – go and listen to it. Naomi is a fantastic interviewer too, which I think really drives the quality of these sessions.

Achille Castiglione

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An Italian designer who would have been 100 in February, his studio in Milan is one of the most fascinating things I’ve seen.

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He collected objects endlessly, getting a sense of how they worked, of how they could be stretched or improved and what the most practical next steps would be.

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All photos April 2018.

Blunt pencils, rose-sprigged cup

Ravening through the persistent bric-a-brac

Of blunt pencils, rose-sprigged coffee cup

Postage stamps, stacked books’ clammed and yawp,

Neighbourhood cockerel – all nature’s prodigal backtalk,

The vaulting mind

Snubs  impromptu spiels of wind

And wrestles to impose

Its own order on what is…

“On the difficulty of conjuring up a Dryad”, Sylvia Plath

Where did you think this scene was set? Initially I thought it must be a desk in Islington, overlooking one of the squares, and then I thought of the mid western prairies…

Emmaus

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This is actually Titian’s Supper at Emmaus, a far too early time in the year to be showing it (this occurs after Jesus has been dead for a while as he reappears to console his disciples), but I’ve never really liked the Last Supper scenes that would be appropriate for Good Friday, so here we are instead.

Feed of the week

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While @arthusiast could easily just be another insta-formula-friendly meme, what this post doesn’t show isn’t the thoughtful, erudite and lightly-written intros to the work of each artist featured in the shot. It’s this that pulled me in and kept me coming back for more. I also like the fact that she doesn’t post a huge deal, which reinforces for me the sense that it’s real passion behind this feed.

If you like this kind of learning and fancy more, then also try @katestrasdin for textile history, @sophia_stories for world literature and poetry and @disraeli81 for the British aristocracy.

Podcast of the week

My love of podcasts is still going strong, and the latest one to cross my radar (very much in a sequence of Backlisted and The Reading Women) is the LRB podcast.

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The first pieces were very much in the nature of 20 minute reviews, so if you want to know what a Giorgione painting is or isn’t, and the chicanery is art attribution, or an investigation of if “international relations” is just “race studies”, then it’s here.

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But there’s also a longer-form interview style that develops, so you can also hear the Asia editor of The Times on North Korea, discussing with an American South Korean author the common iconography of north and south Korea, or a riveting, freewheeling, incisive interview with Carmen Callil of Virago fame (“such a lot of short malnourished people with bad teeth”) on Angela Carter and why Bohemia is bad for women.

In fact that latter one was ringing in my ears as I went to the Rodin Museum recently and thought of Augustus John saying with complete seriousness what a “great pleasure” it must be for his sister Gwen to serve such a man as Rodin…

Census taking

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Lucinda Rogers’ gentrification exhibition at the House of illustration is a must see. Each piece documents the changing nature of life in Hackney and the changing communities. Striking, energetic, thought-provoking and top quality as ever.

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Reading outside the box

I posted a couple of months ago about the excellent Instagrammer @sophia_stories and her hashtag #readingoutsidethebox, which got me really thinking about what I tend to read: a lot of female writers, definitely, but usually white, middle-class and from the first half of the twentieth century.

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Now I’m not going to abandon those authors, but they do of course present a certain world-view (see here for Kate McDonald who writes about the deliberate social conservatism of many these writers), and it’s been refreshing to start reading very different voices. Partly this is the result of being in a relationship with someone who can also roar through Waterstones like Genghis Khan on a good day, but tends to scoop up new publications, authors from the Indian subcontinent and non-fiction, so my across-the-bookshelves borrowing is getting far more varied.

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Enter The Reading Women, a blog and podcast that has so far introduced me to this funny and angry book of essays (by the way, her anger at alcohol pressured on young women is fully justified although thankfully it’s not something I’ve had to deal with),

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a range of memoirs including the one at the top of this article, and crime fiction including this debut about a young Muslim Canadian detective:

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In the way of all algorithms, the Internet then led me to The Good Imigrant, which I devoured last week. A collection of essays that covers everything from learning to wear your “black” hair when you’re a mixed-race kid in rural Somerset who doesn’t identify as black to the different voices of home, work and friends, to the hidden racism facing Chinese and other East Asian populations in the U.K., to a series of funny and rage-inducing articles about literal type-casting of actors. I’d say this is a book to buy so I won’t post a whole load of shots from it, but these are both from a piece by Riz Ahmed. One about the restrictions of casting slots and how this interacts with national self-images, and also the continual indignity of airport checks:

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Remembrance

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Still finding London’s war memorials whenever I go. This one’s in Baker Street. If you want a literary record of the Second World War, then VS Pritchett’s London Perceived, written in 1962 but republished with a new foreword in 1985, reflected how the post war building boom saw London lose its “almost Venetian” low skyline. Funny to read as a Londoner who’s grown up with a much more diverse city and rather likes the skyline from Waterloo Bridge.