Hello there, are you floundering in news-feeds, asphyxiated by articles, perplexed by political profiles? So am I. And that my friends is why I’ve prepared this succinct post on what to read these next few days, just for you. I spent my hard-earned weekend sifting through inky newspapers and digital minefields in order to ‘curate’ (I’m being ironic here) your reading ‘journey’ at the beginning of this new week. Quick ascerbic aside (trigger warning): do we really talk to each other like this nowadays?
I digress. Here are four stand-alone articles I think you might like. Three are free and the final one is cheap to access (exactly one British pound). They cover what I consider to be some of life’s essentials for good writing; cleaver-like analysis, a healthy dose of controversy, mellifluous narratives – and humour. These are articles on why deer need wolves, corporate environmental scum-bags, stand-up comedy – with an octogenarian ukulele-player no less – and a satifyingly long, critical read on Tony Blair’s post PM global empire. Let’s roll.
In his article on the ravages of deer populations in Britain, envionmentalist George Monbiot claims we urgently need mid food-chain mesopredators, like wolves and Lynx, to limit out-of-control deer numbers. But, ‘the British disease is the elevation of private interests above the common interest [and] Governments ensure no-one can constrain the behaviour of major landowners, however grave its impact.’ This incisive piece exposes how rampant privatisation of our ‘commons’ is directly linked to Britain being over-run with deer. This in turn is one reason why Britain is now tragically rated as amongst the most nature depleted countries on earth.
My personal environmental passion is the sea. Read this new report by SAS (Surfers Against Sewage) and you’ll see why. It nails the current ‘Dirty Dozen’ of the UK’s top plastic polluters. In first place, producing 3,224,000 metric tons across 15 brands, Coca-cola are up to their necks in it again. Followed swiftly by the Mc Polluters at _ (fill in the name). Odiously, 17% of unbranded plastic waste came from the fishing industry, of which I shall write more in another post. If you don’t want to swim in plastic, or shit, any more, joining SAS is a good practical way to join forces with other actual and digital surfers against choking seas and coastlines.
Moving deliberately towards a more upbeat tempo, might you consider a career in stand-up comedy? Me neither, I can’t think of many things more terrifying. But 88 year old Dyan Forest, recognised as the world’s oldest stand-up, says she’s hooked on performing. In this this heart-warming piece, she writes wittily about saucy sex jokes on stage, and how many very young men ask her out after shows. ‘And it’s not my brains they’re after’ she winks.
Finally, after resisting for months, I yielded and bought a subscription to Unherd (one pound for the first three months). Not because I agree with eveything on the site – in fact the opposite. I read to challenge what I think I know. I don’t need to like the author, nor their arguement, but to be provoked or convinced to rethink my own. Recent posts I’ve liked include reflections on the tensions between gay, lesbian and trangender rights, and a riff on ‘the four thinkers who took on the mob’. This though is my recent unherd stand-out. Political editor Tom Mctague wrote this Jeremiad report on Tony Blair inc that asks more questions than it answers, and the questions are good.
I’ve long been existentially uncomfortable about Tony Blair, his branding political reach and ferocious networking with other powerful men, especially after he left office. Blair’s tentacles are worth knowing about precisely because, as Tom Mctague notices, ‘Blair today is more influential than any other [British] PM; he has built an empire that connects business to power and himself to everyone…. he might not be prime minister but he remains powerful…. and the power is the point.’