No Complaints #27: Sütterlin, Squids and Miniature Succulents

This week, I have mostly been having feelings about a 90-year-old theme park in Margate that has just reopened. They’re all in here.

Things to read

“Behind the flowers and hedges were mountains muffled by cloud, and a kind of emptiness that you don’t get anywhere in England. Wilderness, I suppose. We climbed halfway up one of them. The wind sweeping the curve of a mountain, the sea seen across miles of land, a sprinkle of white dots like beads from a broken necklace that must be houses along a road, and myself and my companions high above it all, hearing nothing but wind and birds, peering round the earth’s curve. I oppose the idea of wilderness, of the superior position, but my feelings for the real thing are more complicated. I too can get high on altitude, on solitude, on being far away.”

Complicated feelings about wilderness and wildness, male chauvinism and solitude. Email to Pocket.



“The man who, I believe, was half drunk, replied only by all the oaths and abuse in which the Italian language is so rich. He ended by saying, ‘If I liked I could draw my sabre and cut you all to pieces, but as it is, I only arrest you,’ and he called out to the guards at the gate arrestategli. Lord Byron laughed at this, and saying arrestateci pure, gave spurs to his horse and rode towards the gate, followed by the rest.”

Mary Shelley writes to Maria Gisborne in 1822 about a dramatic incident during her travels in Italy. If you will insist on going on holiday with Byron, what do you expect? Email to Pocket.



“To the uninitiated, having Chill and being cool are synonyms. They describe a person with a laid-back attitude, an absence of neurosis, and reasonably interesting tastes and passions. But the person with Chill is crucially missing these last ingredients because they are too far removed from anything that looks like intensity to have passions. They have discernible tastes and beliefs but they are unlikely to materialise as passionate. Passion is polarizing; being enthusiastic or worked up is downright obsessive. Excessive Chill is “You do you” taken to its most extreme conclusion, giving everyone’s opinions and interests equal value so long as they’re authentically ours.”

I’ll be honest, until my two of my excellent colleagues sent me this link, I had no idea what it meant to be “Chill” (thus demonstrating that I’m clearly not it). Email to Pocket.



“She was ashamed of her secret wedding board, and also ashamed of the pull she felt to Pinterest and its idealised version of her future – she knew deleting the board and starting over was a good move. ‘There was this pressure – ‘I need to do all these DIYs! I need to make these tiny pots to put miniature succulents!’’ she says. ‘I had to ask myself: ‘What’s the end game here? Will I be remembered as Queen of the Succulents?’’”

Inside the cult of Secret Wedding Pinterest, where fiancés are optional. (Good headline, Washington Post.) Email to Pocket.



“Like Reinecke, Hitler expected that German ‘in a hundred years will be the language of Europe’. Unlike Reinecke, he thought that Fraktur – and its stablemate, the ‘Sütterlin’ handwriting taught in schools – were not aids but hindrances to achieving linguistic dominance. In early 1941, with much of Europe under Nazi control and high expectations of conquest in the East, Hitler banned the use of Fraktur and Sütterlin in favour of Roman type and standard handwriting.”

So the Nazis had strong views about fonts, it turns out. Email to Pocket.

Things to listen to

There are some podcasts that don't really need to be podcasts – I would read an essay on the subject or an interview with the host just as willingly as I listen. And then there are those that take full advantage of their standalone audio form to do something innovative and wonderful. Such a one is Fugitive Waves. Made by long-time radio collaborators The Kitchen Sisters, it aims to bring listeners “stories from the flip side of history”, using a complex palimpsest of archive recordings, music, interviews and narration. Probably the best example of their technique is also their first episode, as it deals with Thomas Edison, obstreperous sound-recording pioneer genius that he was. I also recommend this one about Eel Pie Island (worth it for the adorable American pronunciation of “Twickenham” alone); this beautifully sad one about Edith Piaf; and this thriller (not in Manila) about the historic boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier's daughters.

Things to watch

Squid-birth is surprisingly beautiful.

A dinosaur expert reviews dinosaur toys.

Google Street View, but underwater.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Merknight to the rescue! Oh wait, what do you mean you need rescuing on the land?

The guest gif

Another week over. Well done, world.

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.