Month: March 2019
"For a cautionary tale, everyone cites Paul Bradley Carr." - THE SUNDAY TIMES
I was – I think I’ve mentioned before – raised Catholic. Which is to say, I attended a Catholic primary school, went to Sunday mass with my dad, was confirmed at age fourteen, and still look back with misty eyed nostalgia at the day our parish priest appeared on BBC Crimewatch having absconded to Australia with a hundred grand in parish funds.
Then I went off to university, and then moved to London where I fully embraced the life of a cynical, secular, Guardian reading (then Guardian writing), liberal. This was the early 2000s, around the same time George and Tony cited their shared Christianity as the casus belli for invading Iraq, firmly establishing liberalism and religion as polar opposites. I knew which side I was on.
Still, no matter how liberal my politics became, I couldn’t quite get on board with the militant atheism practiced by my fellow lefties. The insufferable Ricky Gervais, Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry brand of atheism: Hectoring churchgoers and eye rolling about “sky wizards” to millions of hooting and cackling Twitter followers.
It’s one thing to be evangelical about something, but to be evangelical about nothing seems like a special kind of obnoxiousness. Like a Jehovah’s Witness knocking on your door just to call you a fucking dope.…
As a Brit in America, I am keenly aware of my obligations.
For one, I have a duty to pronounce words like “zebra” and “trousers” and “pasta” in ways precisely calibrated to sound amusing to the American ear. Then I must smile warmly when those same words are parroted back to me in a Dick Van Dyke accent.
I must have an opinion on the Royal family. Sometimes that opinion must be shared on television, like the time in Vegas when the local NBC affiliate declared me an expert on the wedding of Kate and William and allowed me to make up facts for 45 mins. (“What can you tell us about the man in red standing beside the altar?” / “Well, that’s actually very interesting. According to feudal law, if William fails to show up for the wedding then that fellow is obliged to step in and marry Kate.” / “Incredible. What a wonderful tradition. We’ll be right back.”)
I am obliged to have terrible teeth, to drink tea by the gallon, and be willing – at the drop of a hat – to discuss the cultural significance of Doctor Who with someone for whom the entire franchise began with Matt Smith.…
Timing is everything.
This past Sunday, I had an idea: To see if I could go without sugar for an entire week.
It wasn’t until Wednesday that I looked at the calendar and realized with horror: Withnail-style, I had embarked on Lent by mistake.
Right now, around the world, millions of Catholics – in particular Catholic children – are undergoing a forced sugar break. I was raised Catholic and, for most of my childhood, I observed Lent by quitting sweets and chocolate, as did most of my friends. I’d keep a “Lent box” on top of our fridge at home, to place all the candy that I was unable to eat in March and April. Then on Easter Sunday it was open season.
If I could deny myself my only vice for that long as a seven year old, surely I could do it as an adult. The accidental timing was, in its way, like a message from God: Seven days? Seven days! Pffft. If you really want to see the benefits, it’s a month and a half or nothing.
So here I am. Five days in and craving Twixes like they’re the very bread of life.
Quitting something for 40 days is an odd experience for an alcoholic.…
People keep asking me why I don’t start a podcast.
They ask this, of course, because everyone and their cat has a podcast.
Producing a podcast today is like keeping a blog ten years ago, before Twitter and Instagram made us all social to the point where we’re all constantly screaming into the void.
I get the appeal of the medium. Podcasts are a return to the good old days: Those halcyon blogging days when you could pour out your heart and soul online, safe in the knowledge that the only people reading were your friends, family and that one weird guy in Oklahoma who emailed you every time you post.
The days when you could post something stupid, or unfunny, and it would simply be ignored. When there was no (ok, little) of the public mob shaming that inevitably follows every bad joke, dumb opinion, or misjudged emoji on social media.
Just like with blogging ten years ago, today the tools for podcasting keep getting cheaper, and the methods of distribution more efficient. Next comes the goldrush, starting with the announcement last week that Spotify had spent nearly $340m buying podcast companies.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered joining the fun.…