Meta Letta 

At time of writing these words, I’m sweating in a new pub that’s hoping to thrive on borrowed nostalgia. It has the same name as something nobody really remembers very well, except in broad strokes. Just enough to trigger rose-tinted spectacles.

It’s not without virtue, or promise. But if you know me at all, I’m not one for unearned nostalgia. And for me, it’s just neither new enough, nor old enough; it just sits in an uncomfortably uncanny valley.

Weather-watchers will note that means I started writing this on Wednesday, as the rains began to fall on submission day. In this busiest of weeks I actually managed to reduce my burdens by spreading the writing load over a couple of days, rather than try to cram everything in to one fevered window with one eye on the clock.

Saying that though, it has been noted that perhaps I write better when I think less. And with an ominous deadline and furious productivity, there’s just no time to overthink. 

In My Ears

Some bands are bad on paper: Everything about the reads wrong, something that has no business being good or fun or played on constant repeat. YUNGBLUD is that artist, and fleabag is the track. It can’t help but feel like a younger, more modern Teenage Dirtbag. Some may extend that to mean that the track is derivative, but I never played Wheatus on constant loop, that’s for sure.

Bella Poarch‘s Build a Bitch makes me wonder if we’ll see more young performers basing lyrics on obscure (and not so obscure) memes and tweets. Bella is the third-biggest TikTok star and enjoyed the biggest debut ever on YouTube for a new artist, entering both the Global and U.S. YouTube Video charts at #1, with an astonishing 75 million views. 

Before her, Lizzo‘s famous lyric: “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch” came from a tweet, which resulted in British singer Mina Lioness being retrospectively awarded a songwriting credit and, by extension, part of a Grammy. 

I have been searching for a track I love pretty much all year. There are riffs of You Stupid Bitch by girl in red that reminded me of a track by a band that released sometime around 2008 that had no spaces in the either band name or title and was something to do with ghosts?!

I don’t know what magical combination of synchronicity and inspiration led me there, but I finally found it. Sadly, it’s not on Spotify, but I send you to YouTube to indulge in the noughties indie madness that was Very Vampyr by teenagersintokyo. Sadly, their entire first EP is largely gone except for editions on ebay and Beatport. I am increasingly finding that bands are pulling their early EPs from streaming, sometimes to not dilute the pool of later, perceived improvement. 

Some bands are good on paper: Everything about them is praised and much-loved, and their absence from the industry is mourned. I never thought I’d be writing about Abba in these journals. 

If you know me at all, I’m not one for unremembered nostalgia. Abba was never something that really ignited anything in me. And it saddens me that a band so loved, so technically brilliant, still leaves me mostly cold. Abba have had their revolutionary, soaring bangers, even I can’t help but respond to them. But, for me, the new tracks are clever studies in nostalgia; a longing for something that has long gone. 

Abba fans, on the whole, seem to love them though. The Guardian calls them “a perky, moving return to pop’s highest peaks”. But on my second back-to-back listen of them I was making the same face as when someone tries to extol the virtues of trickle down economics. 

Sorry. I tried. 

But Abba do not feature in this week’s playlist

I’m of a mood to do something different with the playlist next week, give the hopper a chance to fill up again. Anybody got any ideas for themes? Or will it just be Penelope Scott nine times over? 

Is that even a threat?

On My Screen

Sweet mother of Morgana, The Green Knight will finally release in the U.K. on September 24 in cinemas and on Amazon Prime Video! My wait is nearly at an end! 

Considering some of the reviews lamenting the slowness and strangeness, it’s unlikely to be a blockbuster smash; especially not so close to Dune‘s release date. But I really hope I get to see both of them in the cinema. 

Meanwhile I am ignoring every single rumour, review, listicle and critique of Edgar Wright‘s Last Night In Soho. General noise from Venice film festival seems positive, and Wright has asked reviewers to preserve the secrets of the movie. I am desperate to experience it stone cold, with absolutely no prior knowledge. My filters and blocks had better hold up. Ironically the better received the movie is, the harder this gets, as everyone will want to talk about it. 

I’ve seen that HBO Max is slowly starting to roll out to Europe this autumn. In the UK their offerings are available for NowTV and Sky, which is probably why HBO is only launching initially in non-English language regions. When that contract expires though, brace yourself for yet another streaming giant vying for your money. I’m not sure what NowTV could possibly offer at that point though, as the HBO shows are the primary draw.

In TV, I’ve been enjoying Vigil on iPlayer. (Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I ever watched non-streamed TV in my own home)

No spoilers herein!

I’m a sucker for a submarine thriller, especially if the thrill is aboard the submarine itself, rather than ‘just’ a battle against the elements or an enemy vessel. There’s something about the closed, claustrophobic environment that just adds something to the tension. These days thrillers often have to find convoluted ways around the mobile phone issue, but a submarine allows for complete isolation; it’s not farfetched for all outside communication to be locked down. 

No help is coming, the madness has time to spread. 

I don’t think Vigil will go down that path, but in my fever-nightmares, I hope it will.

On My Mind

What would you say is a drug problem that causes the deepest problems for our society?

  • The carcinogenic brutal addiction to cigarettes that kills so many?
  • The cocaine that plagues the home counties?
  • The heroin that destroys communities and families due to withdrawn investment in rehabilitation?
  • The devastating effect that alcohol has on health, families and society, aside from (because of) our (my) cultural love for it?
  • Giggling teenagers sitting on a park bench, who might afterwards discard their nitrous oxide canisters, causing litter.

Alcohol alone directly caused 7,423 deaths in England and Wales in 2020, and in 2018-19 more than one in 10 incidents of antisocial behaviour were attributed to alcohol, to say nothing of indirect links to violence, domestic abuse and other causes of death.

But I, for one, am glad that laughing gas is finally being taken seriously

What with the giggling.

And the litter.

Who is modern poetry for?

Danielle Rose, (now) former poetry editor of Barren Magazinedared to suggest that modern poetry journals are largely only read by other poets, with next to no impact on the “general population”.

She was fired for this audacity, which has caused quite the debate in poetry circles. But I can’t quite bring myself to disagree. All of the spoken word events I’ve ever been to have largely been filled people who have at least dabbled in poetry. Or they’re there to support their friends, and have never knowingly turned down an event with a bar.


Next week is going to be quite the milestone: It’ll be issue number 26, which means it’ll be the six month anniversary of Notes From The Engine Room! I can’t quite believe that, and I have no idea what I’ll do for it, if anything.

But for those who have come with me on this journey: Thank you! I really do appreciate each and every one of you!

Bis nächste woche!