The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 1

New year, new start. If you’re expecting the usual Saturday hit of The Cut—well, things have changed a bit. The Excuses And Half Truths newsletter is now The Swipe, a more personal take on the week. It’s an incremental shift rather than a complete restart, but I hope you like the tweaks.

You still get your links. You still get your song. You also get an overview of what I’ve been enjoying this week. I’ll try to keep it positive. Recommendations rather than warnings. You don’t need me grumbling at you while you’re easing into the weekend.

Lots to see and do. Let’s get it started.

Wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, welcome to The Swipe.

Rob is reading…

Double Or Nothing by Kim Sherwood. In a post-Bond world, the Double 0 section is struggling to cope with new threats to global security. A lot of fun but badly missing a strong central character (and the spectre of 007 looms strongly over this one).

Rob is watching…

Greg Davies. Taskmaster, obviously. The New Year’s Special was a scream, and I can’t wait to see how Frankie Boyle copes with the challenges in the 2023 series. Greg’s dark comedy The Cleaner seemed to sneak out on BBC1 last year, but then got enough positive press to garner a Christmas special, so what do I know? All power to the big fella–he’s found his niche and character and gone large with it.

Rob is listening…

to the BBC Sounds of 2023. A lot of the picks leave me a bit cold, but I’m very taken by Gabriel’s mix of blue jazzy soul and Nia Archive’s joyful revival of jungle. Baianá in particular. Deliriously good. JUNGLIST MASSIVE BRAP BRAP.

Rob is eating…

Sausages. Not pigs in blankets. Not stuffing balls with more Brie and cranberry in them than pork. Good old fashioned rough-chopped butcher’s sausages flavoured just with pepper and a touch of sage. Decent onion gravy and a little too much mustard. Blissss.

To begin, let’s defend our territory. The spaces we need to be creative, in whatever form it takes. Take the time, claim the space necessary. Even if it’s just a corner of the kitchen table for half an hour a day to get some word count down, or a Saturday afternoon in the shed to work on your sculpture. The creative act is yours. Own it.

Mounting An Aggressive Defense

The beginning of the year is an exciting time as intellectual properties come into the public domain, free to do with as we will. The big ones this year are Sherlock Holmes and Winnie The Pooh, but there are hundreds more lesser-known characters to play with. The Internet’s Librarian Jess Nevis has a list to tickle your tastebuds.

Public Domain

I don’t think we quite realize what a strange year 2022 was. Read Max’s overview feels like a wild bulletin from a science fictional parody, rather than a sober listing of things that actually happened to us in the last twelve months. Honestly, give this list to someone from the nineteen-fifties and they’d think it came from the pages of Amazing Stories…

Weird And Stupid Futures

‘…the most common transaction at an ATM is not a withdrawal so much as it is a sale. You are buying some paper with a mystical property associated with it, in return for money, and often paying a convenience fee.’

The more I think about money, the more I realize I honestly don’t understand it. It’s the system which runs the world but seems largely based on blind faith and magical thinking. Once you dig into the concept, it flies away from you like fog. Take the simple act of getting some beer tokens out of a cash point…

You Don’t Understand Cashpoints

Sarah Andersen is a cartoonist whose work I’ve admired for a long time. Deceptively simple, stylistically rich, thematically thoughtful and warm. It’s frustrating to see her cartoons appropriated by bad actors, worse still once the massive intellectual land-grab of AI art-crawling enters into the mix.

From alt-right to AI

Dignity in labour is on everyone’s minds at the moment as the key workers we applauded during Covid are now vilified for daring to ask for decent work and conditions. It’s nothing new, unfortunately. Take the story of one Cecile Chaumpaigne, her famous boss, and accusations of assault which all hinged on a misinterpretation of a single legal term…


I loved this piece on how a near-abandoned photographic archive has been returned to life by enthusiasts and volunteers. Context is, as in the piece above, vitally important. Without it, a picture is just a picture. With the right information, it becomes a little bit of history.

Crowd-sourced History

I listed four good things at the top of this week’s chapter. I do recommend you check out Lev Parikian’s six. Thing three gave me a serious dose of the giggles.

Six Things

I feel sorry for anyone trying to learn English as a second language. It’s a horrible hidebound mess, fraught with traps for the unwary. Why are through, trough and though pronounced so differently? I don’t know and I like to hope I speak English as a native. Then we come onto the tricky subject of word order…

Don’t mess with the order

I’m delighted to hand this week’s Last Word to my pal Kelly, who spotted a great bit of Ninth Art goodness while taking a break in Paris. If you’d like to know more about the huge amounts of work involved in the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral following the catastrophic fire of 2019, check this out. Like we always say, comics do it best.

Restoring Notre Dame

For the Outro, here’s a bracing dose of live loudness from 1980. Hugh Cornwall of The Stranglers was banged up in Pentonville on drugs charges. A bit inconvenient as the band had a huge showcase booked while he was behind bars. In a fine example of ‘the show must go on’ spirit, the Stranglers took the stage with a rotating cast of guests, making for an unforgettable night. Far Out Magazine has the running order, a roll-call of greats you’d never be able to get together again.

The Stranglers And Friends

See you in seven, true believers.


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Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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