Wednesday 13 November 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 13/11/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Josh Fehnert

Put a sock in it!

I didn’t enjoy my journey to work today and it’s an increasingly common feeling. Yes, dear reader, London’s number 30 bus is no place for the demure and devoted bookworm to pursue a paperback in peace. Instead, it’s usually a riot of loud phone calls, smelly fast food and more recently an incident that involved some nail clippers and the removal of one passenger’s socks. The social contract that makes shared spaces work is fast being rewritten by selfish phone-touting zombies and it’s rotten. But we’re going to do something about it.

So here’s the plan: a digital-decency initiative. We’ve waited for plane, train and bus operators to launch one under their own steam but instead we’ve had to go ahead and draft it ourselves. To get the ball rolling we need to do something about cameras. Filming and photographing other passengers is rude and the chances are we won’t want to be in your blurry home movie. They’re out. Next, phone calls should be conducted either imperceptibly or – if on trains – in the spaces between carriages. Lovely that you’re catching up with your family, terrible that I’m now learning all about Uncle Henry’s athlete’s foot against my will. Oh, and forget those horrid phone speakers; quiet headphones or nothing please. Why should we all suffer? People caught playing music out loud should be ejected from the vehicle, be it plane or train.

A rant, perhaps, but it shouldn’t always be up to the tired traveller to take responsibility and call for calm. Also, most people are essentially good, honest and kind, and will just need a gentle reminder to keep schtum or tone down the phone call, although keeping their socks on is another matter entirely. Transport firms, your move – and if you need me, I’ll be on the top deck of the number 30 trying to mind my own business.

Image: Getty Images

Business / The US

Remove from basket

For a digital technology company, Amazon is making quite the push into the analogue world. This week the firm confirmed that it will be opening a grocery shop in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, in 2020. It’s hardly the company’s first foray into food: it already runs fully automated Amazon Go shops, where people can collect pre-prepared meals, and owns high-end supermarket group Whole Foods. So why is it launching another grocery chain? Details on the trial shop are scant but reports suggest that it will be a mix of the fully automated Go shops and a traditional supermarket, with minimal staff paid low wages. Could this be the future of grocery shopping? We regularly applaud innovative moves out of the digital space that could help to revive bricks-and-mortar. But such efforts shouldn’t be done on the cheap.

Image: Shutterstock

Elections / Sri Lanka

Out with the old

As Sri Lanka heads to the polls this weekend, voters can be confident of electing a new president: neither the serving president nor prime minister are running for office, which is a rarity on the teardrop isle. The absence of president Maithripala Sirisena will not be mourned, with few leaders having disappointed in quite such spectacular fashion. He came in promising good governance and went out pardoning a convicted killer from an influential family; it’s fair to say that Sri Lanka desperately needs to turn over a new leaf.

Tourism is struggling to recover from April’s terrorist attacks and a faltering economy is increasingly beholden to China. Saturday’s contest promises to be a tight race between Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Sajith Premadasa (pictured). Both frontrunners have close family ties to former presidents – but Premadasa offers the most positive way forward.

Image: Shutterstock

Society / Canada

In from the cold

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is returning to some Canadian airwaves this week. Written in 1944 by Frank Loesser (pictured), the holiday standard was axed by broadcasters last year in the wake of the #MeToo movement. During the duet, a man plies a woman with alcohol while dissuading her from leaving his home on a winter’s night. The lyrics prompted a Cleveland radio station to ban the song and Canadian broadcasters soon followed, though CBC quickly backtracked on the move. Media giant Bell says that the holiday tune will return to its rotation this season following feedback from listeners. That seems a sensible approach: if anything, the song’s content represents the repression of the era and could serve as an important learning opportunity. Banishing the song from airwaves, on the other hand, won’t achieve much.

Image: Drake's LTD

Fashion / UK

Suits us

Whoever said that suits and ties are dead forgot to tell Drake’s. The UK menswear brand that started out making scarves in east London in 1977, before branching out with a full clothing collection, has attracted a dedicated following in the past decade thanks to its cool take on tailoring. Helmed by flame-haired creative director Michael Hill, the firm has six shops in cities including Tokyo, Seoul and New York. Its latest outpost, a new London flagship, opened recently on Savile Row. The parquet-floored, art-lined space brings a youthful injection to the world’s most famous tailoring street. Hill says that the move came about “by a combination of planning and pure chance. The old shop [on nearby Clifford Street], as lovely as it was, had started to feel a bit cramped. It just so happened that a much larger space became vacant right around the corner from us – at 9 Savile Row, of all places.” Customers will flock here for the brand’s famed ties, as well as corduroy chore jackets, flannel suits and collaborations with brands such as streetwear label Aime Leon Doré and shoemaker Paraboot. If this doesn’t get you back into a two-piece, nothing will.

M24 / The Menu

Food Neighbourhoods 160: Kitsilano, Vancouver

Monocle’s Sheena Rossiter takes us on a tour of Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood to discover its rich culinary scene.

Monocle Films / Los Angeles

Los Angeles: The Monocle Travel Guide

Los Angeles, a city budding with talent, is a haven for artists and architects, top chefs, emerging designers and trendsetting retailers. Our guide will take you beyond the Hollywood bubble and uncover the diverse and exciting culture scene; published by Gestalten, it is available now at The Monocle Shop.


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