No Complaints #44: Frogs, Fried Cheese and Futility

I feel like I really built this week’s gif up in advance, and now I’m worried it won’t live up to the billing. If you have better suggestions for future editions (my correspondence is usually 95 per cent gifs, but other links are also welcome), just hit reply and let me know.

Things to read

“On Nantucket, 80-year-old Connie Congdon and I sat in her dim living room looking at the 120-year-old plaster dildo that a mason had found in her chimney. It now rested in a pink dress box on her lap. At my feet, three sweet-faced Australian shepherd dogs snapped at houseflies. A catbird sang in the street. Her house is an old colonial buried deep in a nest of lanes in the historic downtown.”

Yes, this is a story about a dildo. But it's also about whaling and women's desire and family history. What more could you want? Email to Pocket.


“The limitations come from what people actually do with computers, as opposed to what the marketers expect them to do. On the whole, people don't want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so.”

In 1985, the New York Times had laptops all figured out. Email to Pocket.



“My eyes are so doll-like it’s almost eery, and as the day progresses, I come to understand what my boyfriend meant when he said I looked ‘hyper-real’...  It’s a very odd sensation – to recognise yourself somewhere amongst the makeup, but feel like an overly-perfected, almost unreal version of yourself.”

A brief insight into what it’s like to be Kim Kardashian. As someone who periodically endures large amounts of TV make-up only to scrub it off violently with flannel the second I get home, this piece basically describes in detail one of my worst nightmares. Email to Pocket.



“She was working at Simpsons-in-the-Strand when she had a pot thrown at her head. ‘It was the chef de partie. I don’t know if he didn't like me, or if it was because I was a girl, but he endlessly bullied me and I never saw him throw pans at men. After the pan hit my head, I stopped what I was doing and walked out of my job mid-service.’”

This piece goes a long way to answering a question that’s been bothering me for ages: why are there always so few female contestants on Masterchef: The Professionals? Email to Pocket.



“It’s not only that she is a good writer: observant, funny and rather lyrical. Nor is it that she is so honest, though her tendency to look humiliation squarely in the eye fairly pierces the heart. Rather, it’s that her journals, unfettered and intimate, offer up a whole life: an accretion of hopes raised and sometimes sorely dashed, of relationships that shift and stutter and deepen over time. They come with no hindsight. In the moment, Jean does not know if the Germans will invade, her married lover will telephone, her period will (fingers crossed) arrive. She doesn’t even know for how much longer she will have to survive – oh, what miserable suppers this working girl endures – on cheese fried in margarine followed by stale scones soaked in prune juice. And so we live beside her, as absorbed in her story as in any artfully constructed novel.”

This is a brilliant review of a really excellent book that I am devouring at the moment. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

Futility Closet is one of my favourites from the “let me tell you a random cool historical thing” genre of podcast. (See also Lore, recommended in NC#41, and Fugitive Waves, in NC#27). It’s all good stuff, to be honest, but I would particularly recommend episode 67, about two different women who thought the spirits of dead composers like Beethoven and Debussy were dictating music/performance instructions to them in seances.


Things to watch

This is your brain on music.

Wolves, jogging.

Peggy feat. Drake.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Well, frogs to you too.

The guest gif

You what?

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.