Monday. 8/3/2021

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Tyler Brûle

Sense of style

The magazine world lost a leading editor over the weekend and Monocle lost a great friend and sparring partner following the death of Richard David Story. For the better part of two decades, Story ran the show at New York-based Departures magazine and represented a certain era of opinion and influence that recalled a finer time in the world of glossy editorial. Fashion Week in Milan always lacked a certain something (riotous laughter, naughty jokes, razor-sharp sartorial assessments) until Story landed from JFK or pulled up from a short jaunt in Positano. The lobby at the Park Hyatt Milano was always silent until Story settled in a corner table and set up court with writers and PRs, designers and CEOs.

I met Story a few times professionally at the HQ of American Express Publishing in New York but it wasn’t until we started hanging out with our mutual friend Olivia in Positano that we found our stride. Story knew what a good layout looked like, he understood the composition of a winning cover and, like all really, really good editors, he knew how to sell to both his readers and advertisers. He didn’t have much time for wafer-thin male models, he had little patience for creative directors at fashion houses who didn’t understand the notion of “wearable” and, though we never spent much time on the topic, he likely had less time for front-row seats offered up to pint-size influencers.

When he passed through London, Richard could usually be found in my office helping out with the bar trolley or in our studios giving good radio. We will miss his good manners, endless tales, cackling laugh, rude wit and companionship. Richard David Story was 68 and is survived by his wife Jennifer and son Zach.

Education / UK

Lesson learnt

Parents the length and breadth of England will breathe a collective sigh of relief today as their children finally head back to the classroom, marking the first step towards a fuller easing of the coronavirus lockdown in the coming weeks. Face masks and regular coronavirus tests will ensure that it isn’t quite a return to pre-pandemic schooling but it’s clearly better than mums and dads juggling relentless meetings from home with intermittent lessons on Pythagoras’ theorem and the Tudors. “Teachers and parents have been pushed to their absolute limits over the past year,” Chris Smith, Monocle’s health and science correspondent (and father of two school-aged children), tells The Monocle Minute. “Education isn’t something that should happen remotely. There will still be coronavirus cases in classrooms but the testing regime and the impressive vaccination of at-risk groups means we should be confident that the school return doesn’t pose a substantial risk to the rest of the population.”

Media / China

Hidden agenda

China’s annual Communist Party gathering in Beijing this week is sure to be a carefully choreographed affair – right down to the media coverage. “The press conferences are all staged,” Sophia Yan, The Telegraph’s Beijing correspondent, tells The Monocle Minute. “The government solicits and approves questions in advance, which means that officials never randomly call on journalists, nor do they speak off the cuff.”

So for those in the international media trying to cover (or should that be uncover?) the substance beneath the staging and ascertain the future plans of the Chinese leadership, the trick is to read between the lines. “The real art is looking for subtle nuances in what officials say or don’t say, and whether the phrases that they’re using indicate a change in direction,” says Yan. “Every once in a while, there’s a curveball. Last year Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong.” In other words, despite the staging, there’s plenty to see if you know where to look.

Hear more from Sophia Yan on today’s episode of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Politics / USA & Canada

A bridge too far

US senators are considering president Joe Biden’s landmark $1.9trn (€1.6trn) coronavirus stimulus package this week but one item has already fallen foul of the debate: maintenance funding for a bridge between the US and Canada has been removed. First opening in 1958, the Seaway International Bridge between New York state and Ontario is a crucial crossing along the world’s busiest international land border and costs are traditionally shared between the US and Canada. But the bridge became a flashpoint for Republicans who claimed that Democrats were sneaking pet projects unrelated to the pandemic and its economic impact into the bill. And yet the link is actually quite straightforward: the US-Canada land border has been closed to non-essential traffic for almost a year, causing a drop in toll revenue of about 70 per cent. Ensuring that key transport arteries can accommodate more traffic, once restrictions are lifted, should be deemed an essential cost.

F&B / Global

Ripe for change

Wine has been enjoyed (often a little too enthusiastically) and produced by cultures around the world for thousands of years, but the top jobs in the wine industry today are greatly lacking in diversity. This is why the Gerard Basset Wine Education Charitable Foundation, named in memory of the great sommelier, has this month unveiled its Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships. Two grants worth up to £55,000 (€63,800) have been created for aspiring black and ethnic minority students to fund Masters of Wine and Master Sommelier programmes. The scholarships include internships at top wine domaines including Château d’Yquem (pictured), Château Smith Haut Lafitte and Dom Pérignon. Such initiatives are key to encouraging people of diverse backgrounds to take up careers in wine, according to Lewis Chester of Liquid Icons, the company co-founded by Basset. “We desperately need to create role models that these communities can look up to and be inspired by,” he says.

M24 / Meet the Writers

Margaret Coker

In Margaret Coker’s time as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, she reported from over 30 countries on four continents, spending extended time in Russia, the Middle East and Turkey, where her reporting was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Now back home in Georgia, she is editor in chief of investigative website The Current. Her latest book is The Spymaster of Baghdad: The Untold Story of the Elite Intelligence Cell that Turned the Tide against ISIS.

Monocle Films / Greece

The secret to designing outdoor space

Monocle Films sits down to talk to architect Iliana Kerestetzi and see how she goes about designing courtyards in rural Greece.

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