Showing posts from June, 2021

Arctic Dreams - on the radio

  I've spoken and blogged about this book many times, and you can now listen to extracts from it on Radio 4 as it has been selected, around 35 years after its first UK publication as the 'Book of the Week'. A heads-up that, to my delight, Barry Lopez's masterpiece Arctic Dreams (1986) will be Book of the Week on @BBCRadio4 this week, starting 09.45am today. The book––and the writer––that made me a writer. Barry passed away in December this year. — Robert Macfarlane (@RobGMacfarlane) June 21, 2021 Barry Lopez is someone whose work has been important to me throughout my career. Catch up with the episodes here. In Episode One of Arctic Dreams Barry Lopez reflects on his first encounters with the surprisingly varied and resilient inhabitants of the polar north and on modern man’s vexed relationship with this beguiling continent. In his breath-taking natural, social and cultural history of the Arctic, Lopez reveals the essential mystery and beauty o

"democratising laziness" - food delivery apps

Interesting article in today's 'Guardian' magazine on the possible implications of an app called Weezy which is one of several used to facilitate the home delivery of groceries and other foodstuffs. The website describes Weezy as the 15 minute supermarket , and covers a small geographical area, particularly around London and places such as Brighton and Manchester. They don't deliver to rural Norfolk... The article considers whether this is another challenge to bricks and mortar shops, driven by perceived convenience. As the piece by Harry Wallop says, there is a growing range of these apps which have 'democratised laziness' and continued to grow the gig economy: "...with names that make them sound like Snow White’s other dwarves: Weezy, Jiffy, Dija, Zapp, Fancy, Getir and Gorillas are just some of them. All have bold, bright, branding; all hire young couriers riding e-bikes, bicycles or scooters; all promise to deliver essentials including food, drink, ca

Tour de France

Image late June and early July, I will be sat on the settee for several weeks watching live coverage of this event: the highlight of my sporting year. Sadly, because of the earlier start this year, I will miss out on some of the all day sittings... The helicopter shots and landscapes they reveal show the varied landscapes of France, and I am looking forward to seeing the complexities of the tactics unfold over the weeks ahead.

Berlin - a city in sound

Looking forward to the next album from Public Service Broadcasting, which is apparently inspired by the city of Berlin . Looking forward to hearing how the new music tells the story of this city. I had been due to visit in 2020, but COVID-19 put an end to that. It is named after a collection of stories by Alfred Döblin author of Berlin Alexanderplatz. Via Loudersound. It's their most ambitious undertaking yet and even includes vocals from Einstürzende Neubauten leader Blixa Bargeld. It brings the listener to Europe’s heart and de facto capital, the cultural and political metropolis that is the ‘Hauptstadt’ of the Federal Republic of Germany – Berlin. Walter Ruttmann’s radical Berlin tape-artwork Wochenende (or Weekend), which is sampled on three of Bright Magic’s tracks provides a key aural resource. Created in 1928, the piece collaged speech, field recordings and music into a sonic evocation of the city. I've always been excited by the work of the band's multi-instrumental

Tourism.... on its way back?

  I am currently getting stuck into the new book by Marco d'Eramo , who has previously written about the development of Chicago.  The book is called 'The World in a Selfie' and explores the impact of the tourist industry, which is the biggest industry in the world by value when one considers all the jobs that it creates directly and indirectly. The first chapter also explores the impact of the pandemic, which was when people began to realise more than ever that tourism has an impact beyond any other industry in terms of employment and external influence on places. It also explores in some detail, as it says on the publishers' page: 'Why we are all tourists who hate tourists" The Financial Times featured an excellent piece by their travel editor Tim Robbins on May the 22nd. This referenced the book, with a quote: Are we ready for the return of mass tourism after a year of hiatus for the planet to recover? It seems that we are. The book is reviewed here  by Sop