No Complaints #50: Wigs, Wardrobes and White Lead

This week, I have mostly been designing eighteenth century wigs (I even made one that looks like two galleons about to have a naval battle, if you’re interested) and supporting my colleagues as we all went mad watching Labour do a slow-motion reshuffle.

Things to read

“Between the roar of the computers and the whir of the air conditioner required to cool them down, the room was noisy. And the machine Tomlinson used to hit send barely resembled today’s computers. ‘Brace yourself for a sharp turn,’ Tomlinson told me, ‘There was no monitor.’ Instead, he used a beige terminal the size of a large typewriter, without a mouse or trackpad, for inputting instructions. The terminal itself was something like a Teletype Model 33 KSR, and it was hooked up to a printer that spit out 10 characters per second, all capital letters. Which means: The first email had to be printed out in order to be read.”

There are so many interesting things in this long piece about the history and future of email that I'm not going to attempt to highlight one, you should just read it. Instead, I thought I'd tell you a little story about a man I once knew who I think was living his best digital life, long before that was a thing. He was a professor at my university, which has a brilliant internal mail system where across the city every student and faculty member has a pigeon hole at their college where they can receive notes, letters and parcels. Not long before I started there, the university had switched its official communication method to email from physical (mostly internal) mail. This man, who was already in his seventies but still doing a full teaching job and writing a book, decided to embrace email, but on his terms. Every morning at 9am, he would stand in the lodge at his college, get one of the porters to log into his email on their computer, and print out all of the emails that required his attention. He would then write his response on each printout with a fountain pen, and post it to the recipient via the internal mail system. Then, he would go and get on with his day and not think about his emails until 9 the next morning. What a hero. Email to Pocket.


“In some ways, Antony and Cleopatra are what would happen if Romeo and Juliet had lived happily ever after – except perhaps it wouldn’t be so happy. Cleopatra and Antony are in middle age, but they behave like teenagers, having these silly little spats; it’s almost as if they’re addicted to their own love affair. Cleopatra reminds me of Imogen in Cymbeline, too, and she also has bits of Cressida. It’s as if Shakespeare stirs all these personalities into a single character. Enobarbus, Antony’s closest companion, talks about her ‘infinite variety’. She’s mercurial; she changes every time you see her.”

Harriet Walter on deciding to play Cleopatra “with a brain”. Email to Pocket.



“The last thing I expected to strike on reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up and Kondo’s new follow-up, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, was a deep wellspring of decidedly nonpastel emotion. Although the author doesn’t seem to realize it herself, her campaign is a nonstop assault on the most basic form of human denial, the one that prefers to ignore our implacable limitations. Look at your bookshelves, Kondo decrees in her most emotionally fraught chapter, and accept that all those books you haven’t read yet are books you will never read.”

The first of, no doubt, many Marie Kondo pieces I will devour in the next few weeks (instead of tidying my bedroom). Email to Pocket.



“There's one thing almost everyone agreed on: Edmund's willingness to put himself in the thrall of an evil witch in exchange for Turkish Delight makes him not only morally but gastronomically suspect.”

C S Lewis lied to us in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: Turkish Delight is actually horrible. Email to Pocket.



“By the 1500s, things began to change. Queen Elizabeth I was a dedicated devotee of lip rouge, to the point where she believed that it had healing powers and even the ability to ward off death (incidentally, I’m going to make a red lipstick called “DEATH STOPPER”), although this faith was misplaced as one of the main ingredients was white lead. By the time of her death, her lips were caked in lip rouge, due to her habit of applying it in an attempt to feel better. Quote”

An (Abridged) History of Red Lipstick. Email to Pocket.

Things to listen to

The IRL UK podcast is one that I’ve come across in my Women Make Podcasts, Too journey around the internet, and I’m now totally hooked on it. If you like/are sickly fascinated by the “real life stories” bit of magazines like Take a Break and so on, you will love Anna and Rhiannon deconstructing this genre on a weekly basis. I particularly recommend episode 9, where they find out about a man named “Pricasso” who paints with get the picture, and episode 15, which featured some stuff about a man and a campervan towbar that made me don a laugh-snort onto a total stranger ahead of me on an escalator.


Things to watch

Queen of Code.

From Nursery to Misery.

Channing Tatum does Beyonce.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob


The guest gif

Week: completed.
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.