No Complaints #67: Crabs, Cliques and Codebreakers

I hereby declare this a Brexit-free space. You’re welcome.

Things to read

“By the time I found you at the reception desk, I had been in the hospital for six and a half hours. I had read every storybook in the play corner cover to cover, to half a dozen or more children I had never met before. I had shared my single packet of crisps with a pack of hungry toddlers, sung songs to them, shushed and cuddled the children of strangers. There was a kind of Blitz spirit between the families. But by the end of the night even that faded and we sat in hollow exhaustion. And when I could no longer soothe my hysterically overtired child on my own, I went to ask for help.”

I’m not often moved to tears by this kind of piece. But this one did the job. Email to Pocket.


“Whether or not a pop culture representation of a female friend group will be categorized as a clique hinges largely on whether viewers believe they would be accepted into the group.”

An outstanding close reading of cliques in pop culture, and in life. Email to Pocket.



“There’s something about Sideways Like a Crab that seems to have seen it plucked off the shelf more than most. Described to potential users as a ‘quirky lolloping groove with jaunty whistle’, the track has been available to library users since 2006. Why does it keep popping up on British TV documentaries? Maybe because it makes the perfect backdrop for almost any scene.”

Now you mention it, this music is on every TV programme ever. Email to Pocket.



“Using ‘she’ and ‘her’ to refer to software engineers doesn’t come naturally to me, which is exactly why I try to do it whenever I can. It’s my hope that doing so will, however slightly, increase the chances that someday, when my three-year-old daughter pictures a programmer, she sees someone who looks like her.”

Who would have thought including such a short word as ‘her’ in a tweet could spark such a voluminous response? Email to Pocket.



“After repelling the attentions of various ‘vapid’ debs’ delights, she received a letter from an old school friend who was working at Bletchley Park. ‘Well, Jane,’ the letter ran, ‘I’m at Bletchley and it’s perfectly frightful. We’re so overworked, so desperately busy. You must come and join us.’ Intrigued, she accepted the invitation and, after lunch in the Bletchley Park mansion, was taken into Hut 6 and interviewed by Stuart Milner-Barry, one of the senior codebreakers. Though impressed by his fame as a chess player, she was rather less impressed by his interview technique. He was, she recalled, ‘desperately shy. He couldn’t think of a single thing to say and I couldn’t think of anything to say to him because I wasn’t supposed to say anything.’”

What an obituary. What a life. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

I have one of those audiobook subscription things and always forget to download anything. However, I was roused from my audio-stupor this week to enjoy Warhorses of Lettersa BBC Radio 4 series I caught some of on the radio but never appreciated the full glory of until now. It takes the form of an epistolary exchange between Copenhagen and Marengo, warhorses to Wellington and Napoleon respectively, who despite being on opposite sides of the Napoleonic wars conduct a passionate long-distance love affair in their correspondence. Trust me, you definitely need more historical fiction about gay nineteenth century horses in your life.


Things to watch

The robot car park.

I am not sure about this.

Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky in Mexico.


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

“Why is it so windy out today?”

“Oh, I expect those gigantic dudes who sometimes blow on us for no reason are at it again.”

The guest gif

I win.

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.