I seem to have lost the ability to measure the passing of time. Not only did my ability to perceive, measure and control get away from me this week and, arguably, last week, but I have uncharacteristically let a milestone slip by me.
I sent the first of these newsletters out at the end of March last year, and here we are, 47 emails and 61 thousand words later. It’s not always been plain-sailing: As much as I professed this to be a project for my own edification, to get thoughts out of my head, it’s hard not to feel dispirited when people choose to unsubscribe. It shouldn’t mean anything, when strangers who took a punt just decide it’s not for them. It’s not why I started this project. And yet, when there’s a lull in external interest, when the feedback returns to a trickle, one can’t help second-guessing the whole enterprise. Am I wasting my time?
The average reading speed is 200 words per minute, so have I delivered five hours of value to you the reader?
I write these at about 750 words an hour, so have delivered 81 hours of benefit to me, the writer?
I suspect this whole process is not one that’s going to be easily broken down mathematically. The value of art, such as it is, cannot be plotted on a graph. The value of self-expression cannot be tallied on a spreadsheet.
But if you do have a fond memory of the newsletters gone by, do drop me a line and let me know.
On My Screen
It took me a little while to get to it, I just couldn’t align my schedule with that of my favourite cinemas, but by the glory of “Premium Streaming” I have seen The Batman and I found it to be excellent. It was exactly what I wanted, what I was looking for: A crime thriller that felt cohesive, that felt tense. It had a tension that barely let up, a constant tightening of the screw that had some viewers begging for a moment of levity, a quick quip to lighten the mood. But while there was no absence of wry, dark humour, it offered no release. I loved this. I don’t want to get into a Marvel thing here, but The Batman didn’t feel like what “comic book” movies are expected to be these days. There is room for both on the market.
Special mention too to the Batmobile, and that whole car chase scene. I’m not a gearhead by any means, but that monster felt mean and powerful. As Priscilla Page writes, “it evokes Max Rockatansky’s Interceptor”.
The Batman 2 is officially greenlit – Robert Pattinson will re-don the Caped Crusader cowl and eyeliner again in the eponymous role, and Matt Reeves will return to direct the follow-up film.
Short Film of the Fortnight
This one is an old favourite, I saw Operator in the cinema when it was up for the British Short Film Bafta in 2016, an award it went on to win. It’s written and directed by Caroline Bartleet, and stars Katie Dickie and the voice of Vicky McClure. It’s a mere six minutes long.
In My Ears
Sadly I didn’t get to see Blondie last week, it was just one pressure too many. Why does the O2 have to be so far away?! Still, I’m looking forward to Foals next week.
Neither of those bands feature in this week’s playlist, though there’s still some nostalgia in there.
Engine Room Diaries
Photo of the Fortnight
I was in Margate again for my holidays and I just love the light there. The sun sets over the main beach and it’s never not glorious. I laid in wait for this jogger, having positioned myself in line with the sun.
When I talked about how long it takes me to write things at the beginning of this newsletter, it was of course an average. There are times when a thousand words flow from my fingers in next to no time. Then there are days like today, when inspiration feels overwhelmed by a thick, cloying blanket.
But I will be back. In two weeks time I hope to be back to my verbose self, freshly inspired.