No Complaints #18: Schubert, Short Sleeping and Sean Penn

Housekeeping: I am on holiday next week and so may take a week off from doing this. Keep the internet warm for me.

Things to read

“You don’t come to the conclusion that you’re a dragon without a certain amount of self-examination. Many otherkin are aware that some outsiders think they’re delusional. The psychiatric professionals I contacted for this story, however, were surprisingly forgiving.”

I can’t stop reading about otherkin. That’s it, really. Email to Pocket.


“One evening, some 40 years ago, I got lost in time. I was at a performance of Schubert’s String Quintet in C major. During the second movement I had the unnerving feeling that time was literally grinding to a halt. The sensation was powerful, visceral, overwhelming. It was a life-changing moment, or, as it felt at the time, a life-changing eon.”

An excellent piece, full of clips and footnotes, that tries to explain how music can give you that woozy feeling of time standing still. Email to Pocket.


“When Madonna married the misanthropic actor Sean Penn, ‘reporters were stopped at the curb by a guard armed with a .357 magnum handgun ... an army of journalists descended on 6970 Wildlife Road, the palatial $6.5 million cliff-top home of property developer and Penn family friend Dan Unger. Armed security guards scanned the horizon with infrared binoculars.’ Overhead, press helicopters competed with the ocean’s roar. Inside the steel gates, sushi and champagne were served – sometimes by journalists impersonating waiters. No writing appeared on the wall. Instead, Penn ran down to the beach, and scrawled his message to the world in twenty-foot letters in the sand: FUCK OFF. Madonna wore a ten-foot train and a bowler hat. They exchanged vows on the brink of a cliff: ‘Prophetically,’ says the author. He is not a man to let a symbol give him the slip.”

I think I might just have to allocate one slot in this email a week to Hilary Mantel’s LRB archive. There are just so many gems in there. Here she is in 1992, writing about Madonna. Email to Pocket.


“I was married 22 years, but we are now divorced. My sleeping was an issue for him. He was a very light sleeper, so I slept on the couch for a number of years, probably for about the last eight years of our marriage. It definitely put a strain on our relationship, because he’s the type of person who has to sleep either eight or nine hours a night, and if I walk into the room at one in the morning, I would wake him up and he couldn’t go back to sleep. It caused issues.”

An interview with a “short sleeper”, who only needs three or four hours sleep a night (like Margaret Thatcher!). I know she isn’t doing it on purpose, but I scowled the whole time I was reading this. Email to Pocket.


“A woman needs money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction – but what could Ji Xian have produced if she could have just been given the opportunity to be alone? How many women are there, before and after Ji Xian, named and nameless, elite or otherwise, who couldn’t be alone?”

Sometimes, all you need to do to know you’re going to love a piece is read the words in the url. Where are all the women hermits? Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

I’ve been listening to a lot of back episodes of The Catapult recently. I haven’t come across many podcasts in my listening-travels so far that blend non-fiction and fiction, but this one does it very well, asking two different authors to read from recent work in each episode. I won’t lie, I’m not an enormous fan of the host’s opening monologue, but there have been so really great readings in the ones I’ve listened to – I particularly enjoyed Katie Coyle’s extract from her YA novel Vivian Apple at the End of the World and this early episode themed around uteruses (uteri? I don’t know).
+Bonus podcast-related reading: 8 Female Podcasters Changing The Game

Things to watch

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Hitching a ride.

The guest gif

Still here, waiting for it to be warm.

THE END. See you next time*!
*Next time will probably be next Friday. If you want to suggest things I should include in the next one of these, please do reply and send me links.