No Complaints #100: Emails, Ethics and Exorcism

This is the one hundredth time I’ve done this, isn’t that strange? About six issues ago I had all sorts of plans for making this one really fancy and interactive, but then, predictably, I ran out of time so this is just your standard fare, typed in a bit of a hurry quite late at night. If I can be allowed a cheesy Oscars wannabe moment for a second: thank you very much to everyone who has replied with your thoughts and links over the past couple of years, and to everyone who has encouraged friends and followers to sign up. Knowing there are actual people reading makes carving out the time feel like a worthwhile activity.

Things to read

“Being good is a terrible handicap to making good work. Stop it right now. Just pick a few secondary categories, like good friend, or good at karaoke. Be careful, however of categories that take into account the wants and needs of other humans. I find opportunities to prove myself alluring. I spent a long time trying to maintain relationships with people who wanted more than I was capable of giving.”

The headline of this piece promises the bracing pep talk that the article then goes on to deliver: “Do You Want to Be Known For Your Writing, or For Your Swift Email Responses?”. Email to Pocket.


“It does require a fairly dystopian strain of doublethink for a company to celebrate how hard and how constantly its employees must work to make a living, given that these companies are themselves setting the terms. And yet this type of faux-inspirational tale has been appearing more lately, both in corporate advertising and in the news.”

Why do we think that Uber, Lyft etc offering platforms where people can work non-stop is a positive step towards labour’s future? Email to Pocket.


“‘What’s an exorcism?’ I asked. My mother dropped her berries. I watched her face blanch as the well-coiffed anchorman intoned our family name, Choi, over and over with incriminating flourish. She powered off the TV with trembling hands, then stepped outside, where meat charred on the backyard barbecue. I stared at her from the couch, still waiting for an answer.”

I think of this story as simply “my uncle, the exorcist”. Email to Pocket.


“The sad thing about Missing Richard Simmons is that if Richard Simmons finally decided to drop all of those rocks and rest – whatever state he was in when he did – then nothing makes it clearer how he got to that point than someone making a hit out of demanding over and over some kind of explanation. Perhaps he finally drew a boundary. Perhaps he finally put his sneakered toe out and drew that line in the dirt, in which case it's uncomfortable to think the response was, ‘How could you?’”

Like lots of people, I’ve been listening to the Missing Richard Simmons podcast, and like many others I have doubts about its ethical viability as a show. Email to Pocket.

We also talked about this on SRSLY this week.


“Doing interviews is weird. I’ve been doing them for a long time now and there is, no question, something vaguely prostitutional about it: there you are, the journalist/client, demanding this far more beautiful person simulate intimacy with you for an hour. Readers seem to get this on some level because one of the most common questions I get asked about my job is if I’ve ever slept with an interviewee, and obviously the answer is no, never even close, partly because I’m too busy worrying if my Dictaphone is working to even think about sex, but mainly because I know both the interviewee and I are just doing our jobs.”

If you’ve ever felt deeply uncomfortable reading an interview with a female celebrity written by a male journalist, you should read this piece. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

Lots of you enjoyed the Ed Sheeran review I put in last week, so you’re going to love this. The author of that excellent takedown, Laura Snapes, has just started a new music podcast called Unbreak My Chart, and it is super. She and co-host Fraser McAlpine run down the chart for the week, commenting, boosting, dissenting, laughing, and it’s fab. As someone who used to religiously tape the chart off the radio onto a cassette on a Sunday afternoon in my early teens, but who has since become totally disengaged from what ’s up and what’s down, it’s delightful to get back into the old habit with hosts who are unashamedly pro-pop while also being very sceptical and well-informed. Also, if you need an explanation for why Ed Sheeran has all the songs on the charts at the moment, the first episode contains a very good one. (iTunes)

Things to watch

No time this week! Sorry. This section back once I’ve actually watched something.

Things to attend

A couple of upcoming IRL things I’m doing:

22 April, Cambridge – A talk at the Cambridge Literary Festival with Susan Elderkin and Ella Berthoud to talk about fiction in troubled times and the “novel cure”. Tickets here.

2 May, London – A panel with Olly Mann of Answer Me This! and Jason Phipps of the Guardian talking about “how to launch and grow a successful podcast”. More details and tickets here.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Leonardo lied to us.

The guest gif

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THE END. See you next time!