No Complaints #43: Sleep, Snails and the Skype Sound

I'm baaaaack. Extended maundering about my holiday can be heard here, if you’re interested. Fyi, if you have yet to watch the TV series Outlander, you should immediately. It’s about a woman on a time-travelling sex-quest in the Scottish Highlands. (This is not related to what I did while I was away, obviously.)

Things to read

“In [the James Bond film Goldfinger], an unfortunate minor love interest of Bond's is discovered by the film's villain to have been sleeping with the enemy. She is murdered by the bizarre expedient of painting her naked body head to toe with gold paint - thereby supposedly asphyxiating her. ‘Nonsense,’ snorted my mother. ‘I was naked except for a g-string and painted from head to toe in gold paint, and did not suffer any adverse consequences at all.’”

I was really sad to hear of the death of historian Lisa Jardine – a wonderful and brilliant woman I admired very much. This is a piece she wrote in 2010 about her mother. Email to Pocket.



“As a writer – especially as a woman who has written ‘personal’ material – I’m grateful to Kraus for deploying the materials of her life in rigorous and compelling ways; for holding vulnerability ‘at some remove’ in the face of those determined to read any act of self-disclosure as narcissistic or self-pitying. But as a reader, Kraus makes me confront my own hunger for autobiographical access; it makes me aware of how much I crave a sense of the true story beneath her written narratives, even as I respect the ways they refuse to deliver any kind of one-to-one correspondence between lived and constructed experience.”

I read Chris Kraus’ I Love Dick last week, and then I read Leslie Jamison writing about it and you should do both of those things too. Email to Pocket.



Granted, the topic is kind of sexy. The word alone – sleep – is a hell of a word. Just say it aloud, savour the way it slips off your tongue and falls to the floor – fleet as an eyelid closing shut, heavy as a bag of flour hitting the ground. Sleep is by turns ominous, alluring, and reassuring; it mimics death yet offers rejuvenation; it promises flights of fancy and total nothingness. A naturally occurring psychedelic, sleep is the most organic, and economical, narcotic known to humankind.

Personally, I let podcasts I am indifferent to shuffle while I’m asleep (not really caring makes it easier to drop off), but it turns out a lot of people have spent a lot of time trying to write the perfect sleep music. Email to Pocket.



“There’s no such thing as a ‘natural’ computer-interface sound. But for decades, an entire industry of musicians, engineers, and advertisers has devoted itself to creating these acoustic signifiers, from the moment we boot up a machine to the moment we shut it down.”

I started reading this because I wanted to know how they decided what the bleep-bloppy Skype noise should sound like, and then carried on because the whole world of computer-noise-decision-making turns out to be weirdly cult-like and sinister. Email to Pocket.



“Indeed, one's attachment to a man depends largely on the elegance of his leave-taking. When he jumps out of bed, scurries about the room, tightly fastens his trouser-sash, rolls up the sleeves of his Court cloak, over-robe, or hunting costume, stuffs his belongings into the breast of his robe and then briskly secures the outer sash – one really begins to hate him.”

From a list of “hateful things” compiled by a 10th century woman at the Japanese court (thanks to NC reader Margaret for sending this one in). Email to Pocket.

Things to listen to

I actually didn’t do an awful lot of listening while I was away – it was so quiet and peaceful, there was no need to block out other people’s irritating noise/existence, which I realise is mostly why I wear headphones 90 per cent of the time. However, I did storm through the audiobook of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. I would be the first to admit that, as much as I like Poehler’s comedy, her book is not particularly ground-breaking or special. If I had bought an actual book of it to read, I would have been a bit disappointed, I expect. But the audiobook is great: she’s a very good reader, of course, but she also had a lot of guests (like Patrick Stewart and Seth Myers) on, which made the whole thing less like an author reading out a book and more of a really long fun podcast.

Things to watch

This, obviously.

How to break up with your best friend.

There IS no Dutch David Bowie.

(That last one is admittedly quite a niche joke. Americans, email for an explanation if you want one.)

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

“Out, damn snail!”

The guest gif

Me, noticing that it is now getting dark outside before I send the newsletter.


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.