Tuesday. 20/9/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images, Shutterstock,

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

What comes next?

The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London yesterday, and later the interment of her body at St George’s chapel in Windsor Castle, was rich with meaning and impeccably detailed with references to her life, Britain, the monarchy, faith and service. It was a day that stressed the connections between all the nations of the United Kingdom and the value the Queen placed on links with the Commonwealth. It was also a masterclass in soft power witnessed closely by attending world leaders. It was, in short, a perfectly choreographed close to the Queen’s life. But what now?

Today Britain wakes up to a very different day and perhaps some anxiety about what lies ahead. Will the stability and continuity of Elizabeth’s reign, for example, give way to a rupture or renewal of the bond between the people and monarchy if Charles moves to modernise the institution? And then there’s the other new person on the job to consider – someone with more immediate pressures to deal with.

Liz Truss became Britain’s prime minister on 6 September, just two days before the Queen’s death, and so her hopes of delivering change, of confronting the cost of living crisis and containing inflation had to be put on hold in recent days. But now here too the British public will want to know what can be done – and where traditional thinking or radical plans will triumph. People understand that this winter will be tough with food and energy costs high, and that Truss has been dealt a bad hand. But many worry about whether she is the person to see us through the coming months (especially when the first leak about the mini-budget to be delivered this Friday was about the need to allow bankers to be paid bigger bonuses).

We are at a juncture with genuine potential for renewal but also one that, played badly, could unravel the unity of recent days and leave us more fractured. British people are a curious mix of tradition-embracing and rebellious; you have to hope it’s a combination that will see the nation through whatever comes its way and also inform discussions from parliament to palace.

Andrew Tuck is Monocle’s editor in chief.

Image: Alamy

Urbanism / Barcelona

On the mend

A new EU programme will fund the restoration of Barcelona’s metropolitan area. Starting this week, more than €100m in funds will be allocated to the initiative between now and 2026 in which some 13,650 homes will initially be repaired or upgraded. With resources typically concentrated in the city centre, buildings in the traditionally working-class areas on the outskirts have long struggled with structural problems; from poor ventilation to inadequate insulation, there is plenty to tackle. For now, the EU’s priority is to start by repairing homes built before 1981. The end goal is to rehabilitate more than 50,000 homes here by 2030. As with any ambitious urban project, success largely depends on the proper management of funds. For the EU and Barcelona to hit these targets, they will have to act quickly and efficiently.

Image: Ben Roberts

Education / Global

Never too late

As we live longer, hopefully healthier lives, people are having to think about using their brains and bodies more and shrug off the idea of going into a gentle decline as they age. This has resulted in a boom in classes, schools and organisations that support lifelong learning. To put it simply: why not become an author in your forties, a glass-blower in your fifties or a surfer in your sixties? In the October issue of Monocle, which is out now, our Expo section looks at people who refuse to allow age to dim their ambitions.

Potter Roberto Paparcone (pictured) understands the need to keep stretching yourself; well into a successful career as an architect, he took a course with ceramicist Misako Homma in Barcelona and his life changed. He moved to Mallorca, opened a studio and commissions started piling up. “When you find something you like, it’s easy to learn,” says Paparcone. To inspire change in your life and find more stories like this, subscribe to Monocle.

Image: Laurent Julliand

Culture / France

Fashion icon

A new exhibition at the Palais Galliera fashion museum in Paris invites visitors to delve into the private life of Frida Kahlo. The show aims to deconstruct one of the most recognisable artists of the 20th century and explore how she created an identity through self-representation.

Working in close collaboration with Mexico City’s Museo Frida Kahlo, Palais Galliera has gathered more than 200 personal objects, including cosmetics, orthopaedic aids (Kahlo had polio as a child and was in a near-fatal accident when she was 18) and clothes, from the Casa Azul where Kahlo lived for most of her life. The artist expressed Mexican pride through traditional Tehuana outfits while also dressing for comfort to cope with her disability. Her cultivated image has since become an inspiration for influential designers, such as the late Alexander McQueen, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Rei Kawakubo. She remains a lesson in the power of enduring mystique – and how an artist can be turned into a potent brand after their death.

Image: Alan Santos/PR

Elections / Brazil

Pastry puff

In Brazil you know that there’s an election coming when you spot campaign photographs of politicians eating a pastel in a bid to appear at one with the people. One of Brazil’s most popular snacks, it is a cholesterol-rich fried-dough triangle that is usually filled with cheese or mince. Ahead of the crucial vote on 2 October in which Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva could return to power, the Brazilian press has officially declared that “pastel season” has begun. The pastry was brought to the country by Japanese immigrants, Brazilian chef Telma Shiraishi from São Paulo’s Aizomê restaurant tells Monocle. “The pastel is one of the most popular street foods in Brazil. It developed from the Japanese spring roll recipe and was adjusted to the Brazilian palate,” she says. The original recipe called for saké but in Brazil cachaça is used instead.

So far, candidates Jair Bolsonaro (pictured) and Simone Tebet have been spotted enjoying the snack; getting your picture snapped with one seems to imply an everyman status. But in Rio one pastelaria has been forbidden from selling pastéis decorated with the names of candidates by delivery service iFood. Whether the calorie hit will move the dial in this election (as opposed to the one on candidates’ bathroom scales) is debatable.

Image: Alamy

Monocle 24 / The Urbanist

The accessible city

We look at some of the ways that research and technology can help to remove barriers in our cities to make them more accessible to all.

Monocle Films / Denmark

Community spirit in Denmark

Housing co-operatives are numerous in Denmark, providing residents with affordable places to live, keeping community spirit strong and cultivating samfundssind: the Danish concept of putting society’s needs ahead of individual interests. Monocle visited the Jystrup Savværk co-housing community, an hour outside of Copenhagen, to explore the meaning of the word. Discover more stories and ideas from the region with The Monocle Book of the Nordics, which is available now from The Monocle Shop.

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