Meta Letta

For what is apparently the XXX edition of this fine newsletter, it is actually going to be quite tame. If I’d planned ahead in any way at all, I’d have saved up some stories and snippets for the occasion. But planning isn’t really what happens here, especially in this Holiday Edition of this periodical. One might assume that since the extended period of time since the last one, plus the fact that I’m on vacation, that I’d have had loads of time and headspace to plot out a huge and well-thought-out newsletter.

Instead, I am sitting in a Margate harbour pub, tapping away with limited broadband, limited battery life and limited time; but essentially unlimited beer, so I think I’m generally winning. However, it does mean that this newsletter will be a bit patchwork, or might even fee a bit rushed. My apologies. I’m doing my best.

While I’ve been doing very little writing in my time away, I have been taking a lot of photos. I don’t know whether it’s being away from familiar sights, the quality of the light, or the sub-culturally textured nature of Margate, but I’ve been inspired to take a lot more photos than usual.

I own eight cameras of varying qualities and standards. Three of them take film, three would be considered “full frame”, three of them would be considered “professional”. (There’s some overlap there) Hundreds, maybe thousands of pounds worth of photography equipment in total, accumulated over years. But what I use most often is my phone. It’s because it’s always with me; it’s because I can use it one-handed. But, much as it may appal some professional photographers for me to say it: the quality of the images is absolutely decent. The principal criticism of what some call “iphoneography”, is that it’s not fully the photographer’s picture, it’s algorithmically enhanced.

Could a create my vision better with an SLR, full lighting setup, and process it in professional software? Yes, absolutely.

Can I get 85% of the way there with my phone, at a quality sufficient for online uploads and small prints, in a fraction of the time? Also yes.

It may be algorithmically enhanced, but it’s still my vision, my eye, my aesthetic. As long as the light is good, I can get pretty close. And, as alluded to above, the light here is pretty damn good.

Photo Of The Week


I’ve taken a great many photos of Margate Main Sands, the sky above it, and Wonderland in the background. But this is one of my favourites. You might have seen others on Instagram, but that is not a service that favours landscape pictures, and the email format doesn’t favour portrait ones. But format aside, I will always be drawn to that sky.

In My Ears

My wifi connection has just dropped off for no discernible reason, and I don’t have any headphones with me. The discernible reason for the latter is purely the failing of my own Swiss cheese brain. So, I’m afraid we’ll have to skip the usual playlist, and instead replace it with one that has a much smaller pool of interested people, but was created with more love. Dear friends and subscribers Olly and Steph got married last week, and they asked me to create a party playlist for them, and that’s exactly what I did.

Choosing tracks wasn’t tricky at all; what was harder was scanning it repeatedly to make sure that there was nothing too strange in there, too nihilistic or, gods forbid, break-up songs! Knowing my luck, nobody would be paying attention to the music, there’d be a sudden lull in background chatter, and Becky Hill‘s Better Off Without You would come on. I couldn’t have anybody think that they’d be better off without me!

Party playlists are always tough because of the danger of alienating a proportion of guests, or just making it so common denominator that it just becomes bland elevator music. Hopefully the 5.5 hours of music did the job it was supposed to! Though with hindsight I should have made two playlists: “People are vibing and/or eating dinner” followed by “People are drunk and need bangers”.

On My Screen

I only had one fear for Dune: Not that Villeneuve would screw the pooch, that it wouldn’t be worth watching. But that it wouldn’t make enough money. After all, Dune should properly have been called Dune: Part 1, it leaves the story incomplete; Villeneuve always wanted to complete it with a second part, and ideally a third for the second book, Dune Messiah. Sadly there wasn’t financial confidence in pandemic cinema takings to shoot two, never mind three, movies back-to-back. But happily, takings from the first movie are enough to guarantee us the second part: D2ne: Two Fast, Too Spicy – The Worm Turns.

In Pixar world there was a movie. That movie spun off an animated series. That animated series triggered a massive explosion of toys. One of those toys was Buzz Lightyear, and Toy Story was his story. And now, the original in-world movie that triggered it all is being made by Pixar. Coming in Summer 20202: Lightyear. This sounds like fan theory or satire, but it’s actually happening, and there is a teaser trailer. Obviously I’ll watch it, but it’s possibly the most meta thing that Pixar have ever done.

In other news, Sally Wainwright’s masterpiece Happy Valley is officially returning for a third and final series on the BBC. Sarah LancashireJames Norton and Siobhan Finneran are all set to return and filming begins in early 2022.

On My Mind

I have a pint in front of me, I can see the beach and the sun is shining: That’s literally all that’s on my mind.

That and how I’m going to cope with going back to work next week with my entire backlog unaddressed and left to fester.

I have no idea how I’m going to make, and preserve, space for any creative projects once I leave this windswept shore.

It’d be ironic to return from the seaside, only to drown.


Next week we return to our regular schedule! Somehow! I have no idea how!

But I do always do well with a deadline. Well, maybe not well. But better.

So, abbreviated as this edition is (by recent standards), I must bring it to a close.

But you’re all, all, in my thoughts.

And I’ll see you next week.