Thursday 4 April 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 4/4/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Sophie Crepy Boegly

Opinion / Josh Fehnert

Novel journeys

What can be completed if undertaken vigorously in one, three or five-minute bursts and is taking place with slightly greater frequency on the London Underground? Reading fiction of course. French firm Short Édition has installed three new vending machines in London this week – peculiar orange kiosks that dispense printouts bearing short works by the likes of Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf and Anthony Horowitz. The aim? To offer a measure of entertainment that might tempt phone-dumb commuters to consume something that could change, challenge or inspire them.

Books in general have shrunk from their pre-digital heyday – cynics would say in proportion to our waning attention spans – so a little imaginative intervention on any scale is no bad thing. The machines have already proved popular in France, the US and Hong Kong, which hints at a shared appetite to unplug, read and revel in storytelling. How’s that for a plot twist?

Image: Getty Images

Politics / The UK

Brexit block

UK prime minister Theresa May held emergency talks with the Labour party yesterday in a desperate attempt to solve the Brexit conundrum. May’s plans to leave the bloc have been rejected on three separate occasions and there is no agreement on an alternative proposal. So how can parliament break the Brexit deadlock? Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, told The Monocle Minute: “A government of national unity has been touted – but it’s highly unlikely. There hasn’t been one since the Second World War. A temporary voting arrangement covering Brexit alone could work but if Labour and the Conservatives can’t set aside their differences, a second referendum may be edging ever closer.” Perhaps then the first real sign of optimism for those hoping for a people’s vote.

Image: Shutterstock

Election / Canada

Message failed

The latest marketing move by the Conservative Party of Canada has left many in the country rolling their eyes. Over the weekend, residents of four provinces received an unsolicited text message from the Conservatives warning that petrol prices are set to rise thanks to prime minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax. The message was accompanied by a link to a website that promised Conservative leader Andrew Scheer would kill said tax, and which includes a request for recipients’ contact details. While anti-spam laws in Canada preclude commercial entities from sending mass texts, it’s within the law for political parties to do so. That said, the appearance of political messages on phones is likely to rankle voters.

Image: Kohei Take

Food / Tokyo

Local heroes

Of all the world’s cities, Tokyo has the most Michelin-starred restaurants. But while much is written about the composition of kaiseki tasting menus and expertly cut puffer fish, less is heard about how much produce comes from Greater Tokyo. Now the local government is spreading the word with its new English-language Guide to Tokyo’s Locavore Restaurants, plus a second one for the islands governed by Tokyo. The city guidebook lists 222 restaurants, while the island manual features a further 62 that use only regional agricultural products and seafood. The guides are a triumph for Japan’s chisan-chisho movement, which encourages people to “produce locally, consume locally”. They are available for free around Tokyo or can be downloaded from the Metropolitan government website.

Image: Alamy

Branding / Christchurch

Try again

New Zealand rugby team the Canterbury Crusaders is reviewing its name and branding in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shooting. The team, which is the most successful in the Super Rugby league, uses an emblem of a Templar knight swinging a big sword. Until recently, pre-game entertainment at its home fixtures has involved actors dressed as crusading knights galloping around on horseback in the stadium; that practice has been wisely curtailed until further notice. The club has employed a marketing firm to canvass opinion on the current name and investigate how its identity might change. But it needn’t bother: events of 15 March have changed the debate and a full rebrand would be wise.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Gabriella Somerville, ConnectJets

Gabriella Somerville is the founder and managing director of ConnectJets, a leading private-jet brokerage handling sales, charters and logistics for clients around the world. The company was launched in 2009, with Gabriella providing her own seed funding, and has soared ever since. With 25 years of experience in commercial aviation, Gabriella works closely with plane owners and manufacturers to reduce both operating costs and carbon footprint, while striving to offer safer and more comfortable travel.

Gunsan: building on the past

Natives and newcomers to Gunsan in South Korea are creating quirky bars, art spaces and a bright future for this charming outpost.


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