The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 19

I’m trying to spread The Swipe into different distribution vectors (hello to any new readers coming in from Tumblr, Mastodon and LinkedIn) so introductions are in order if this is your first visit to Excuses And Half Truths and The Swipe.

Hello there. I’m Rob Wickings, a writer and dweeb based in England’s largest town, Reading. The blog in which this newsletter is based has been running in some form for 15 years, but the current weekly ‘diary, links and a song to finish’ format comes out of lockdown. What can I say, it keeps me busy.

Expect the content to skew towards thoughts on creativity, communication and language, with a spot focus on art, culture and food. Oh, and I’ll wibble on about my garden a lot. If you want to know more about my novels and anthologies, check out the link in the sidebar. Hope to see you every Saturday.

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

Rob is reading…

Stealing For The Sky by Adam Roberts. A techno-crime caper from one of our best SF writers, this is a breezy romp around Europe with a great McGuffin and an intriguing, mysterious main character. It asks a lot of questions which never get properly resolved, which makes me wonder if this isn’t part of a larger work. More research needed.

Rob is watching…

Trash Theory’s overview on the life and times of the KLF. Doesn’t really do anything new, but it’s a solid and thorough stomp down the road which would lead Bill, Jimmy and Gimpo to a bothy in Jura and eternal notoriety…

Rob is listening…

To Supergrass. Forever under-rated, never underperformed. Late In The Day is the highlight of their imperial phase album In It For The Money. Moody, epic and neatly subverted in the video. Sure, let’s go black and white. Yes, let’s put on the roll necks. Oh, one last detail…

Rob is eating…

Rice pudding brûlée. Don’t knock till ya try it.

To start, something very clever. You really need to read this aloud. Don’t be worried by the big chunk of text. This will flow more easily than you think.

Get Rhythm

When done well, I believe science fiction can deal with the big subjects and ask the big questions with more elegance and grace than any other genre. Why? Well, perhaps because the writer can creep up on you with the promise of a fun story about aliens or spaceships or time travel and then WHAM slip in a treatise on the nature of grief or the malleability of human nature. We skiffy types can be sneaky that way.

Why Science Fiction Is Important

Here’s an amazing interview with hostage negotiator Scott Walker, who spent years persuading both kidnappers and the suffering families of the victims towards a satisfactory (and more importantly, bloodless) conclusion. I’m not entirely convinced that Scott’s life lessons are applicable to all aspects of life, but taking a broader view of an unpleasant situation and understanding both sides of the argument seem pretty a reasonable way to approach conflict.

The Negotiation

You are a Michelin-starred chef. You work for fifteen hours a day creating extraordinary flavour combinations for an adoring audience of food aficionados. What do you eat when you’re off duty? It sure isn’t going to be a snack you need tweezers for…


You are a member of the crew on a Federation starship. You work long hours in dangerous conditions bringing peace and stability to the galaxy. What is your go-to drink when you’re off duty to help you relax and bring on a buzz? It’s very unlikely to contain alcohol, but it will hit the spot…

Getting A Little Ten Forward

I loved this interview with cook and writer Kate Lebo, who explores the tropes, mannerisms and common mistakes which are part of that most misunderstood of literary forms—the recipe. It’s surprisingly difficult to get right and needs as much fact-checking as any newspaper article.


Language, as we continue to discover, is slippery and volatile. The Oxford English Dictionary officially introduces ten new words to the lexicon every year, with many more sliding frictionlessly into common usage. As the internet is still, at heart, a huge experiment into how we navigate using the written word, it shouldn’t be surprising when we find a new stretch for an old formal term…

Ask Not For Whomst The Bell Tolls

You have to love an exercise which is simultaneously a labour of love and a clear product of obsession. The Condiment Packet Archive sits neatly in this pocket. It’s strangely addictive, blending the familiar and strange in one huge, clickable archive. Be warned. You may get a bit lost in this. I certainly did.

The Condiment Packet Archive

To finish, as we’re thinking ketchup and mustard, let’s join comedian Jamie Loftus as she watches competitive eater Joey Chestnut break his own hot-dog snarfing record. It’s a tale full of sights, sounds and smells which may put you off the idea of a sausage in a bun on the barbie this weekend.

76 Hot Dogs

Blur have announced new music. Naturally, then, as a life-long contrarian, I present a clip of their last comeback in 2012, playing Hyde Park after the London Olympics. I love The Universal, and this is a great version. You can tell how overwhelmed the band are by the love coming off the audience to them. Damon, in particular, is obviously just about holding it together. It’s a beautiful moment. Yes, here’s your lucky day.

See you in seven, true believers.


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

3 thoughts on “The Swipe Volume 1 Chapter 19”

    1. In It For The Money popped up on my random album feed this week. Such a great album, stuffed full with great music. They’re best known as a singles band but this one stands as a proper full length statement. Glad you’re still with us, Tony. It’s readers like you that keep me going.

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