1. Off you go
It’s early morning at Midori House and I’ve managed to get in before anyone else for once. It’s the first still moment for days. This week the team sent Konfekt, a new quarterly title aimed mostly at our female constituents, to press. It was a whirlwind that brought back memories of making issue one of Monocle in 2007. A magazine launch needs determination, a willingness to let go of stories that have taken their toll on you but have not quite made it past the finishing line, at least one standoff, some guts and dinner in the office. But now it’s all out of our hands and the wait begins for a box of advance copies to return here from the printers in the coming days. That’s another memory of Monocle’s launch – the first box being ripped open, pages being flicked, paper caressed. We even had a photographer on hand to record the moment. God we look young. But now I wonder, do I remember the moment or does the photo cause me to?
2. False memory
Judging by the number of people discussing it, The Crown must be delivering epic audiences for Netflix. Even in an age of on-demand viewing it’s a show that has created that water-cooler moment, when people unpack a programme’s twists and revelations the next day at work. The Monocle office is no exception – even if we don’t have any water coolers (for proof, see The Look, below). And while crusty royal commentators have been harrumphing across the British press about the terrible inaccuracies – that’s not the way Prince Charles would kiss his mother! He never had that medal! They only eat Battenberg cake on a Wednesday! – nothing they vent about has any impact. We are hooked by the glorious storytelling. And so, with every passing day, The Crown’s edit of events re-engineers our memories. Its version of history is bedding in as the truth. “I had forgotten how badly the royal family treated Diana,” said a friend the other day. “That part where the Queen refuses to hug her is so awful.” I pointed out that the scene was imagined but she insisted, “I’m sure that’s exactly what would have happened.” Memory, history and fiction are all being stirred together with delicious effect and it will be hard for viewers to ever recall how they used to feel about these events, these people. Or even to remember that this was not a history programme.
3. Zoom out
Boris Johnson is languishing in self-isolation after spending time with an MP who subsequently was diagnosed with coronavirus. Mr Johnson has clearly decided to use his lockdown time to undermine video conferencing and to make everyone yearn for a return to the office – for their old life at the water-cooler. In a series of genius appearances he has looked forlorn, like an old dog, far from the action. I don’t know who his new advisors are but they are doing wonders for the return-to-the-office push that the nation will need this spring. I hear he might do the next Prime Minister’s Questions sessions from bed in his pyjamas and Wee Willie Winkie nightcap. Go Boris.
4. Birdseed for brains
Now that the temperature has dropped and the trees have shimmied off their leaves, I decided it was time to refill the bird feeders on our small rooftop garden. Some 10 minutes after the grand replenishing I happened to glance out of the window and there, waiting in the branches of the silver birch, was an excited flutter of various finches and tits jostling for their turn on the premium-select nuts and seeds. How did word spread so fast? Have they had a feathered mate keeping watch all autumn, anticipating this moment? I don’t know for sure but, somehow, a chirped-out message had spread around the ’hood along the lines of, “The plant-based restaurant that we used to frequent last winter has reopened and it’s offering as much as you can eat – for free!” I admit that’s quite a detailed message for an old-school tweet but how else did they move so fast? Anyhow, I am happy to see them back at Chez Tuck Nuts and they will be well catered for in the weeks to come. Thanks for remembering.