No Complaints #39: Men, Melting and Miss Marple

Nothing has made me happier this week than the fact that someone wrote picture captions for these stills from Downton Abbey as if it was real and in the showbiz section.

Things to read

“The brilliance of Christie’s deployment of Miss Marple is that she does not turn away from the spinster stereotype. We all know it: old, unmarried women are lonely, nosy, and spend their days eavesdropping and passing judgment. And it is just her apparent superfluousness, the ease with which she may observe society, unnoticed and unimportant, that perfectly situates the spinster to pick up on clues and intrigue. Miss Marple’s ambiguous position in domestic life, neither completely inside or outside the village families she observes, is where she gains her peculiar power to steer Christie’s stories.”

I’ll be honest, they already had me with the headline of this piece. Miss Marple vs the Mansplainers is a to-the-death fight I would pay to watch. Email to Pocket.



“In 2015, expecting to jump-start a longterm writing career based on the virality of one or more personal essays requires a good deal of privilege and delusion. As Bennett’s piece indicates, that ship is sailing. Easy, daily access to writers' most devastating experiences is decreasing the demand for full-length memoirs from the online personal essayist. But even when the stakes are lower and a writer is simply looking to raise her professional profile or earn extra money, personal essays aren’t always an advisable route. After a few days, discussion about those pieces wanes and after one bill payment, the money is a memory.”

The First-Person Industrial Complex is winding down, but some people got to cash in at all. Email to Pocket.



“Kate and Emily have gotten over the initial shock of what Emily calls ‘winning the baby lottery’ and are enjoying the shared experience of being pregnant. ‘When you’re in a straight couple, your husband isn’t going to be able to feel what you’re feeling. With us, Emily is a couple weeks ahead of me, so we can compare notes,’ Kate said. ‘As partners go, it’s been a good thing so far.’ Except when one of them drops something. ‘Then we just look at each other.’”

What To Expect When Both Of You Are Expecting. Email to Pocket.



“In the middle of our trout and greens, she asked me what I was most afraid of. The question caught me off guard; I was embarrassed. I said, ‘Dying’, but it was a lie. Closer to the truth would have been saying: getting cancer again. But what I was truly afraid of was dying without having found love, which felt like a shame of a different magnitude.”

What it’s like to Tinder-date when you’ve had cancer. Email to Pocket.



“The Kindle set the imagination alight. It looked and felt like no ‘computer’ we had ever seen. And because its progenitor was paper – but yet it was digital – there was something magical in holding it. It was The Hitchhiker’s Guide made manifest. (A role that the iPhone would go on to fulfill in totality.) Unlike a desktop – at which we read straight-backed, vertically, some distance away from the text – we could cradle a Kindle. And because it was globally networked and backed by a vast and instantaneously available library, we rarely found it to be limited. That 2007 object held implicit the promise of a universal book container.”

Why we started, and then stopped, reading books on screens. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

I have only just started listening to This is Actually Happening, but so far it is more than satisfying my desire for slightly voyeuristic first-person stories in podcast form. I found #62 to be particularly thrilling (it caused an actual white knuckle grip on a bag of crisps while I was listening) and also enjoyed (if that’s the right word) #45.

+Bonus thing: On my podcast this week, we talked about one of my favourite books ever in the whole world, The Lives of Christopher Chant. And then a listener sent us a picture of her cat, Chrestomanci, and my heart just melted away.

Things to watch

Dudes, dancing.

Nodding strategies.

Take that, jelly.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

It’s good to have a sword taller than you are, just in case.


The guest gif


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.