Tuesday. 22/10/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Christopher Cermak

Go forth and protest

Over the weekend my (Austrian) father messaged to ask if I was joining the hundreds of thousands marching on the UK parliament in favour of a second referendum on Brexit (I wasn’t). It was a weekend when protests were making the news from London to Lebanon and Chile to Hong Kong, with people of all political stripes massing to be heard. But can such meetings add up to meaningful change?

In a word: yes. Just look at Lebanon, where demonstrations are forcing the government to pass economic reforms and reverse a rather bizarre proposal to tax WhatsApp calls. They have also brought the country’s various religious groups together in a common anti-corruption cause. Success might be less obvious in London or even Hong Kong but it’s there if you look. In the UK it may be too late to reverse Brexit but it could nudge London to maintain closer ties with the EU and remind parliament of its wafer-thin mandate to decide this most permanent and far-reaching of rulings.

I’ve attended plenty of protests over the years (my favourite has to be the 2010 Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington), always as an unbiased reporter rather than an active participant, but that shouldn’t stop all of you from showing your colours. If Lebanon shows us anything it’s that fighting (albeit peacefully) is worthwhile, even if there’s only an outside chance of change.

Retail / The US

Get your fill

Seattle-based Nordstrom is continuing to buck the trend. While the likes of Barney’s and JCPenney have declined, the family-run department-store chain shows no signs of shirking from bricks and mortar. On Thursday it will open its New York flagship on 57th Street. Billed as the largest single-project investment in Nordstrom’s history, it’s opposite the firm’s men’s shop, which opened last year. Nordstrom has grasped the importance of doing the simple things well, whether that’s customer service, shop layout or ensuring that customers are fed and watered while browsing in the Comme des Garçons shop. Indeed, there are seven food-and-drink offerings in the new flagship, including chef Ethan Stowell’s Wolf restaurant, which offers a taste of Seattle-meets-Italy. Who said that the appetite for retail was waning?

Society / Japan

Best seat in the house

Today is a public holiday in Japan to mark the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito. Although the planned open-top parade has been rescheduled for 10 November following Typhoon Hagibis, the formal ceremony will still go ahead with 400 foreign VIPs, including the UK’s Prince Charles, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as nearly 1,600 representatives from Japan – supreme court judges and Diet members among them – and a vast press contingent that will include 450 journalists from more than 70 countries.

Guests at the accession ceremony get to see the emperor (and his wife, Empress Masako) in imperial garb as he announces his official enthronement. The ceremony is the most important of several to mark the accession, which began on 1 May. Next month will see the Daijosai, a Shinto rice-offering ceremony, and there will also be a number of shrine visits. Becoming emperor doesn’t come cheap: ¥16bn (€134m) is being spent on the ceremonies.

Aviation / Australia

Lengthening long-haul

On Sunday morning, Qantas flight QF 7879 flew 49 passengers and crew direct from New York to Sydney in a historic 19 hours and 16 minutes. The journey was the first of three tests for new long-haul routes, with the next scheduled to take place from London to Sydney. If the experiment is a success, Qantas will order new aircraft – 777Xs or A350s – that will be able to accommodate up to 300 passengers. They should be better suited to long-haul says Geoffrey Thomas, an aviation expert and former chief editor of Air Transport World. “The cabins are pressurised to a lower altitude, therefore passengers aren’t as likely to get altitude sickness – and there’s higher humidity so passengers don’t dry out too much,” he says. With engines increasingly burning less fuel, the range of aircraft will only get greater, which means other airlines may soon follow suit. Airfares may also be cheaper due to fewer layovers, though it depends on how much airlines would be penalised for carrying more fuel. “Passengers will likely pay a premium,” says Thomas. And it just might be worth it.

Design / Italy

Making connections

Some 100 exhibitors have set up in Turin’s expansive Lingotto Fiere building for Architect at Work, which starts tomorrow and runs until 24 October. The B2B expo – also popping up in Milan in November – is aimed at design-minded businesses seeking new materials and design elements to work with. Big-name designers and architects will also be giving talks, including Enrico Frigerio of Frigerio Design, who will draw on his own portfolio to discuss building better workplaces. Top of the list for many will be Thursday’s seminar by the Turin Association of Architects on the future of architecture and what digital connectivity means for buildings, based on the theme “In&Out: Circular Economy in Architecture”. Let’s hope they don’t talk in circles.

Radio / The Menu

Eating fish, nose to tail

Australia’s top chef Josh Niland on cooking fish with nothing going to waste. Plus: what happens when a Greek beverage brand launches a hotel and Jancis Robinson on how the world of wine is changing.

Monocle Films / Iceland

Power pack – driving renewables

A trip to Iceland for a masterclass in sustainable living and a whizz around Audi’s electric car plant in Brussels leaves Monocle Films with a positive vision of the future.

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