The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 14

The blossoms are finally on the apple and cherry trees at the bottom end of the garden, and the acers are unfurling their fractal leaves in shades of cream and crimson. We are making plans for the copse end of the grounds, which goes through periods of focus and neglect. It’ll never be done, but then that’s the joy and pain of a garden. Change is the only constant.

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

Rob is reading…

Beyond The Burn Line by Paul McAuley. Up to his usual standard, a story of the far future after an unspecified ecological catastrophe which has pitched civilisation back to a simpler existence. Lots to unpack as the tale gently unfurls, heading in unexpected directions and into strange territories.

Rob is watching…

Brigand Jurko, an amazing animated film from Slovakia, blasted out loose and dirty and joyous in the mid 70s by one guy, the visionary Victor Kubal. Here’s the background.

Rob is listening…

To Fred Again. His Tiny Desk performance for NPR is an understated triumph.

Rob is eating…

Rigatoni alla vodka, recipe courtesy of Dan Pelosi. One to enjoy while we’re still on the cusp of cool days and nights, cos it’s a creamy tangy ribsticker of a dish.

Grossy’s Vodka Sawce

A poem and a comic in one from Beckett Jones. This is really lovely stuff, beautifully written and illustrated. Non-narrative and all the better for it.

Traveller, beware

Why is the cuisine of certain countries in Europe lauded above others? What is it about French food which gives it a reputational advantage over British—particularly when, say, seafood dishes served in the coastal towns of Brittany will frequently be simple preparations of ingredients from the English Channel? Jordan King has a theory…

The Rosti Line

Food giant Jeremiah Tower has begun to reminisce about his imperial period, with some incredible stories on offer. This one, about the launch of legendary restaurant Chez Panisse, is about as debauched as it gets. The seventies were a different place…

Panisse and White Powder

The mechanics of writing fascinate me. The way a piece is constructed, honed and finished is an exercise in craft, requiring a clear knowledge of certain rules, tools and procedures. This is especially true of journalism, where stories have to hit certain beats at certain points. An example—the Nut Graf. Once you know it’s there, it’ll start jumping out at you.

The Nut Graf

I missed last week’s birthday of R.E.M.’s first album Murmur, but there’s no reason not to raise a belated celebratory glass to one of my favourite records. It changed my musical tastes overnight, and is still a go-to when I need a little lift. Oh, and Perfect Circle was one of the first dances at our wedding. That’s how much it means.

Murmur at 40

Some of the great works of literature were originally published as serials in the pages of weekly or monthly magazines, notably the early novels of Charles Dickens. Serial Reader is a clever initiative which takes that notion and runs with it, breaking down classic tales into easy-to-digest daily nuggets. It seems like a great way to get some literary fibre into your diet to me.

Serial Reader

I’m not sure you could call this a comprehensive overview, but as an exploration of a certain sort of decorative maximalism there’s a lot to enjoy in the next link. Let’s get flouncy!

Bible Of British Taste

Robert Altman’s version of The Long Goodbye hits its 50th birthday with a swathe of celebrations. It’s a great bit of crime fiction, taking the original hard-boiled text and applying a very seventies spin. Elliot Gould makes for an elegantly rumpled Philip Marlowe, and the twists and turns make for a satisfying dose of downbeat noir.

The Very Long Goodbye

Look, I will admit to being borderline obsessed with the look and feel of Ridley Scott’s Alien. That clunky, junky way with a spaceship interior is a visual balm, and I can just sit and drink in the details for days. It would seem I ain’t the only one…

The Alien Aesthetic

Lastly, this lovely piece from Emma Straub on love, loss and fine tailoring is a heavy recommend. I’ll say no more, but be prepared to feel a little misty by the end.

From The Wardrobe

The Outro comes courtesy of my pal Dom, who recommended a great bit of archive from the BBC on a genuinely British musical phenomenon—The Radiophonic Workshop. Massively influential even today, they popularised techniques and compositional methods which had been the purview of the avant-garde, bringing the music of the future into the living room. You know the tunes.

See you in seven, true believers.


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

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