Art is not optional [178]

Greetings from my shed...

Wow. #ClimateStrike. Nature acts and we respond. This is happening. Millions out on the streets. It fills me with hope. Hope that we still have time.


Somebody has done something I’ve not managed. Someone must had said something nice about this email and a flock of the curious have dropped by. Thank you.

Welcome new readers! You are all amazing human beings. This is email 178. There are things in the archive that will remind you how wonderful it is to be alive. That will make you laugh, cry, ponder and act. But if you are just here for a little escapism that’s fine too.

I have had time to think this week. Meditative time inside a motorbike helmet, or while working in the garden, at the tiller of a boat or soldering cables.

The weekend started with a ride into London where I parked my motorbike at my friend @Ilicco’s house. Another friend @Lesanto had previously piloted my boat Story Maker into the city. I had a rough idea of it’s location but Ilicco happened to walk past recently so lead the way and took me to the mooring.

After a farewell beer I climbed aboard at 11pm and for the next 4 hours lay in my cabin listening to the party boat next door. I should have joined them but I needed to be up at 6am.

I’d already said goodbye to my boat once thinking that she/he/it would sell pretty quickly. The market is not what it was though and instead of deal with the viewings and time wasters I needed to get it to a broker. Hopefully they will have better luck.

So at first light I headed east out of London.

As I was single handed I knew I was up for an interesting boat trip but had no idea how long the journey would take. Those that have been following my previous narrowboat adventures know how long it takes to travel a short distance. I had 27 miles to cover and doubted it could be done in a day.

Turned out it was a 14 hour boat trip. If you want to see the condensed tweets from the journey check out this thread.

It’s always an adventure and this trip was no exception. From the off, as London woke, the towpaths were filled with those who had not yet made it to bed.

First off, six Bolivian students who helped with the first lock. Then a gang of girls still celebrating a birthday attempted to get aboard. Never a dull moment. Hitchhikers, eel killing herons, giant terrapins and priceless art.

I arrived at my destination exhausted, happy, but a little too late to catch the brokers open. So I spent my last night on the boat dreading the handover and wondering how I could keep the boat. But it’s just not practical. It’s a too big to keep for the occasional outing. It will make a great home for someone.

There will always be adventures.

The rest of the week has been meetings, phone calls and attempting to fill a Winnebago sized skip with the bits of the garden trying to become jungle.

I’m not big on gardening. But when I can’t see the shed I know it’s time to do something.

There has been procrastination. Contemplation.

I strapped some poles together and stuck my CB aerial on top.

As my experiments in retro tech continue… cassettes, vinyl and now CB Radio... I wonder what a psychologist might say.

I’m pretty sure i’m not living in the past to avoid being in the present. I quite like the present and spend as much time here as I can. In fact that might be it. It might be the futurist in me is concerned about what our collective future will bring.

Climate change, bee extinction, autonomous A.I. escalating poverty, genetic manipulation, killer robots, crazy world leaders, unethical surveillance, the death of trust, apathy... I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

I’ve spent years consulting, coaching and training inside tech and media industries. As social, cultural animals, perhaps more technology might not be the answer. Maybe more artistic original thinking is what’s needed.

I like to think that whatever we break we can fix. We are ingenious, curious and hungry for meaning. If we work collectively, there is nothing we cannot do.


I watched Stan and Ollie at the weekend.

My Grandad never missed a Laurel and Hardy film and that’s what got me into them as a kid. I still have DVD compilations and even the vinyl of Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

I really enjoyed it. Mostly because of how good Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly were. The way they moved, talked and performed had me totally sold on them being Stan and Ollie. I’m not sure anyone else could have fit the parts as well as they did.

The owner of Banksy’s largest ever canvas is selling. Perfect timing.

Devolved Parliament is looking to raise at least £1.5 million but might break the record for the most expensive Banksy sold. If it doesn’t shred itself before it goes under the hammer.


The truth is out there. Don’t look for the bias. Look for the influence.

Popped over to Magazine Heaven in Rushden to pick up some niche publication on CB or HAM radio.

Once again I have out niched them. They have some weird, out there magazines on display but nothing on radio communications.

Apparently HAM radio magazine went out of print in the 90’s and CB Radio Magazine is now a website. It does have an interesting archive.


Have you heard George’s podcast. That’s the name of the MUST LISTEN podcast by George The Poet. The first series finished in 2018 and after a long wait the new series starts at the end of this month.

If you haven’t heard it you really must. There is little else like it out there. It’s hard to explain other than it comes from the soul and breaks a lot of storytelling convention in increasingly creative ways. Once you hear it, other podcasts seem half arsed and without purpose.

If you are an audio storyteller you will learn much from George the Poet.

The Tunnel is a simple podcast from Criminal. It’s not their best but I really enjoyed the production. I’ve met Pheobe Judge and I don’t know why but I was a little amazed that this person who looked introverted and uncomfortable in a festival bar, could create such powerful audio. Some of the best interviews I’ve heard from Radiotopia. I imagine co-creator Lauren Spohrer has a lot to do with it. This episode has Pheobe’s great narration and writing mixed with the wonderful voice of Gary Carden opening the story and adding a historical link to the past.

What I really like is Pheobe heading out of the studio and visiting the tunnel featured into the story. Little happens and it’s not even imperative for the podcast. But it gives a peak into the mind of the host and how much work goes into each episode.


On my way through London on the narrow boat I watched a heron catching and killing an eel. Then, an hour or so after I saw a pot of jellied eels on the discount shelf of a canal side Sainsbury’s.

I don’t remember ever having jellied eels before. And I’m not sure this is a fair first tasting. They were on their ‘use by’ date and on offer for 69p. Unable to have them with the traditional pie and mash I tried them with French bread.


I hate to waste food but the pot went into the bin. It’s rare I find a food i’m not willing to have again. So I will give it another go. Though I think i’ll have to find a traditional outlet that does the pie and mash etc. Fresh eels must tase better than that smelly congealed bony mess. Don’t they?

Taramasalata on toast.

Even if the dog is asleep in another room. Or at the bottom of the garden. It doesn’t matter how quietly I prepare a snack. She will suddenly appear with a look that says… “Your going to eat that without me?”


After my review on natural deodorant email reader Joe messaged me to say his mum Maria makes a pomade called Deo Maria. It started out as an experiment and is getting rather popular. Maria sent me a sample in the post.

As it only arrived yesterday testing has been limited to this being day two with it on. I mist say [sniffs pits] first impressions are that it works well and is as good as the other high street brand I tested. Better perhaps as it has fewer ingredients, is £5 a pot or only £2.50 if you refill your old pot.

Maria does not have website or shop yet but if you would like to know when she next makes a batch fill in her email form.

The 4XCamera app by Roland looks interesting. Needs a load more features to keep most happy but it’s a decent starting point.

I passed some mad ‘boats’ on my way through London. Floating homes built from scrap, sporting off grid tech and crammed with hoarders loot.

I also passed a rocking horse. Wish i’d picked it up now.


  • I’d like to thank Ian Kath for these kind words that I hope might give you the courage to take your interest in this email to the next level

    I also want to thank him for equipping me with this link that discusses how spiders might fly using electricity. I was only talking about flying spiders this week with my lad.

  • How private are your private instagram posts? You would think with all their money they could at least get this right.

  • If you are new here why not add yourself to the Documentally Newsletter map? And if you would like a full subscription you get access to subscriber only posts… the full archive… the podcast feed… on post commenting and the encrypted group chat on Wire. All this for the price of one beer a month.

  • Musical interlude.

  • Simjacker is an interesting looking phone hack delivered to you via SMS. Like a previous iOS exploit called Karma, you don’t have to click on it for it to work.

  • This data is a few years old now but here’s an overview of the world’s porn preferences. The link is safe for work. Depending where you work.

  • The ‘Ultimate Lens Hood’ is not really something I will be carrying around but it serves a purpose. In the past when shooting images through a window I’ve held a jacket or piece of clothing behind the phone.

  • Why these social networks failed so badly.

  • My Greta Story.


Thanks for reading. Please pass this on to someone you think will appreciate it. Especially if you blog or write a newsletter yourself.

Next week i’ll be at home finishing in the garden, recording some binaural audio and revamping a mobile video workshop.

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” 
Henry David Thoreau

Be kind.

See you out there.