No Complaints #48: Bah, Christmas!

As promised, here are a load of things you can read/listen to/watch this festive season while pretending to your family that you are "working".

Things to read

“What better representative than she for Earth, a planet at the margins of the universe? We’ve been sending our signal into space for decades, through international space programs and less intentionally through earthly radio transmissions. To public knowledge, at least, no one elsewhere in the universe has yet said, I hear you.”

A beautiful story about a story about a woman on Mars. Email to Pocket.


“In the French quarter of New Orleans, John Edgar Browning is about to take part in a 'feeding'. It begins as clinically as a medical procedure. His acquaintance first swabs a small patch on Browning’s upper back with alcohol. He then punctures it with a disposable hobby scalpel, and squeezes until the blood starts flowing. Lowering his lips to the wound, Browning's associate now starts lapping up the wine-dark liquid.”

Actual, real-life vampires. Sort of. Email to Pocket.



“It was and still is difficult for Bleasdale, who is 57, and Jinks, 47, to understand what happened, still less what they should do about it. Obviously, they had created something of immense value – though they did not know how they had created it, nor how valuable it was.”

The post-viral aftermath for the people who own The Dress. (It's white and gold, btw.) Email to Pocket.



“Whenever I think about selfies, I think about the women who came before... I think about Julia Margaret Cameron, who got her first camera as a gift, in 1863, when she was 48 years old. Her daughter gave it to her, a toy to stave off the solitude of aging. The machine must have felt electric in her hands. See, Julia wasn’t really a head-turner. We know this from her great-niece, Virginia Woolf, who wrote that Julia was an ugly duckling in a family full of cameo complexions; her nickname was 'Talent', where her sisters got to be called 'Beauty'.”

A really, really deep dive look at women and photography and selfies. Email to Pocket.



“At 12:57, I asked Jeremy if he wanted another cup of hot water to go with his honey, lemon and Lemsip so I was just about to nip out to the coffee machine. (NB. You’re NEVER too senior to make the drinks).

At 13:00, Radio 2’s Head of Programmes turned up at the studio door and Phil nipped out for a quick chat.

At 13:01 they were in the studio, in conversation with Jeremy.

At 13:03 Phil popped his head round the studio door and said: 'Tim – can you come in here?'. Sure, great, perhaps Jeremy wanted another cup of hot water after all. Phil continued: 'You’re doing the next hour.'

Oh. Right.”

A lovely little blog about a BBC producer who suddenly found himself pressed into service to present one of the BBC's most popular radio shows. Email to Pocket.

Things to listen to

Here are my top festive/end of year podcast selections:

Another Round does Kwanzaa.

Only Human talks about death (what is more Christmassy than that?)

Answer Me This wraps up 2015.

Act Three of this This American Life about a record-breaking sleigh ride.

The SRSLY Love, Actually special.

Things to watch

Bach's Prelude No 1, played by hipsters on a series of tubes.

Disney's "The Story of Menstruation" from 1946.

Best thing I've done all year.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

I hope you have as much fun this Christmas as these boars did playing croquet.

The guest gif

Thank you for reading this year. I hope you always have a friend who will fold down the little cross on your hat for you before you get in the car.
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.