Friday. 16/8/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Robert Bound

All filler, no killer

In north London, near Lord’s cricket ground, the weather forecast is grim. When these dog days of summer get wet it means that the cricket’s off and the resting teams play cards, do press-ups, maybe even chat – for there is a smartphone amnesty in the dressing room to avoid distraction. But for the commentators on radio (and less so TV), there are no such diversions from the job at hand: there might be no play on the pitch but the show must go on.

From 10.30 until 19.00 the commentators, summarisers, experts and guests on BBC Radio’s Test Match Special will look out at a wet field of grass and fill. Fill, fill, fill all day long. They’ll talk about the rain, perhaps the quality, wetness and depth of it, the likelihood of play that hour, then the hour afterwards. They’ll chat about the attire of some of the pluckier spectators who’ve yet to vacate their soggy seats and how they are avoiding… pleurisy, perhaps. Then they’ll play some old interviews with great players. Then, if they’re lucky, it’ll be lunch. Afterwards the cabin fever and chablis might mean they’ll talk about dogs, papercuts, scaffolding, pasta. Then they’ll start on statistics. How many matches or series have actually been improved by rain? What sort of captains came into their own, tactically, in straitened circumstances? Then the famous subject of baking posted to the commentary box: the cakes in funny shapes, the sponges sprung from suggestive moulds. Fill, fill, fill all day long – “Oooh, Matron!”

Radio commentary is a great skill: to say what you see so that those that can’t almost can. But it’s some sort of genius to be able to spend an afternoon enlightening patient millions with wanderings on tree surgery, pigs, lucky socks and bunkers. I can hear another shower drumming the window – now is the time to tune in.

Brexit / UK

Beasts of two nations

For many die-hard advocates of Brexit, stopping foreigners from having access to the UK was a key reason for leaving the EU. But the 2016 referendum result has prompted an unexpected outcome: scores of Brits are now securing EU passports. Several EU member states have reported that the number of UK citizens applying for a passport has jumped dramatically. In 2018 alone, the Republic of Ireland received more than 183,000 passport applications from Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a 9 per cent increase from the previous year. What’s more, 2017 saw a 19 per cent increase of applications over 2016. To meet the Brits who are taking out insurance policies against this geopolitical act of self-harm, pick up your copy of Issue 2 of Monocle’s Summer Weekly.

Shipping / Norway & Finland

Rocking the boat

A long history of supporting oil rigs at sea and providing a link to mainland Europe means that the Nordics are well acquainted with shipping. But countries such as Norway and Finland are looking to the future too: they are home to remote outposts where green shipbuilding is steaming ahead. Brødrene Aa, the world’s biggest mid-sized fast-ferry producer by delivery numbers, makes its emission-free electric vessels in the tiny Norwegian village of Hyen. Turku in Finland, meanwhile, is a shipbuilding hub where the first large passenger ship to run on liquefied natural gas was built; it’s also home to Foreship, whose technology helps boats use up to 25 per cent less energy. For more on why the future of clean, green shipping is Nordic, pick up a copy of issue two of Monocle’s Summer Weekly.

Retail / Vietnam

Bridging the gap

Huong Thuy Town in central Vietnam receives a steady footfall of tourists, most of whom come to see the covered 18th-century Thanh Toan bridge. But the town lacks a night economy so authorities have decided to open a monthly market that will take place under the tiled roof of the ornate bridge after dark. The structure, which was built in the 1770s and is heavily influenced by Chinese and Japanese decorative styles, has been a national heritage site since 1990. The first market kicks off today at 19.00 and will repeat every 16th day of the lunar month. Visitors can expect food stalls, folk singing and displays of local craft, all set to atmospheric lantern-light and the sound of the rushing water below. Other cities looking to invigorate their economy should take note.

Urbanism / Global

King of the hill

Architecture might be flush with awards but its outdoorsy sibling, landscape architecture, has long gone without. Now thanks to the Washington-based Cultural Landscape Foundation, the discipline is finally getting its first international award. With a $100,000 (€90,000) purse up for grabs, the new prize will be awarded every two years to a living practitioner of note. “I think one of the great challenges for landscape architecture is very often that the hand of the landscape architect is invisible,” says Charles Birnbaum, founder of The Cultural Landscape Foundation. “It’s almost impossible to look at any city today that is having a renaissance without understanding or recognising the role that landscape architects are playing in those places.” A five-person jury will select its first winner in 2021.

M24 / The Urbanist

Heatwave

Following one of the hottest summers on record, we look at the impact that rising temperatures are having on our cities.

Monocle Films / Madrid

Monocle’s Quality of Life Conference

Monocle gathered together a peerless group of thinkers, entrepreneurs, reporters and makers for our fifth annual conference, a unique mix of debate, dinner and hospitality. We look back at some of the moments that made our sunny 2019 edition such a success.

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