No Complaints #102: Shirley, Students and Snakes

The sun has come out where I am. I hope the same is true for you.

Things to read

“‘Everybody kept telling them, “stop poking your nose where it doesn’t belong,”’ newspaper adviser Emily Smith told the Post. But with the encouragement of the superintendent, the students persisted.”

Nevertheless, these teenagers persisted and got a bad appointment at their school overturned. I really hope someone has already acquired the film rights to this so that we can all enjoy Spotlight: Junior Edition in 2019. Email to Pocket.


“One memorable challenge came when I was translating Lord Edgware Dies, which took me 10 years because of one almost impossible hurdle: a particular two-word clue, which to me felt inextricably bound to the English language. The words used in English sounded different in Icelandic, dissolving the clue entirely. In the end I resorted to simply referring to the English words as well, after trying dozens of alternative methods (for those interested in knowing the clue, read chapter 29).”

There is nothing about this that I don’t love. Email to Pocket.


“As an adult reader I was concerned: obviously the children can’t find gold, but isn’t this all going to be a massive anti-climax? And there are odd mentions of how Nancy’s view of the world is slightly strange, and that perhaps she can’t go on dividing people into pirates and natives. I’m sure I noticed nothing of this as a child reader, and in fact Ransome sorts it out very nicely and satisfyingly. I think most children will have guessed the secret of Timothy the Armadillo by the end. ”

One of my favourite blogs tackles one of my favourite Arthur Ransome novels. Email to Pocket.


“So maybe it was just sad, doughy me, at home stuffing the void with takeout, but it felt like Sad Girl Theory had infiltrated all the biggest moments in pop culture over the past two years. Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s breakout TV show Fleabag and Rachel Bloom’s My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend each fixated on two things: being sad and being a woman and the connection between both.”

Updating Sad Girl Theory for the year 2017. Email to Pocket.


“She showed off her rings, the stacked Victorian snakes that she wears like twin talismans. She was reluctant though to talk about their provenance. ‘That’s a secret,’ she said.”

I want to know the secret of Shirley MacClaine’s rings. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

This week, I finally listened to Witch, Pleasea podcast about Harry Potter by two Canadian academics. It’s one of those that I’ve been told so many times I’ll love that I just never actually pressed play. Now that I have, I can confirm that I love everything about it, from the old-timey theme music to the detailed analysis of Neville Longbottom’s extended family to the way they say “out”. If you have at any point read a Harry Potter book or watched a Harry Potter film, you will love this show.


Things to watch



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.

ALSO We will be announcing a new podcast live event next week, so make sure you’re on the SRSLY mailing list to be first in line for tickets.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Me on a Saturday night.

The guest gif

Come at me, birds.

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THE END. See you next time!