Six bites of writing
The first of a series
Just for the fun of it, here are some articles we like. Few are, on the surface of it, the sort of thing content marketing agencies do. Perhaps they should be. All these pieces are highly readable if robust and scabrously opinionated. They leave you wanting more. This is the quality we should all aspire to.
Ever so angry about architecture
Jonathan Meades, Literary Review
Jonathan Meades is some sort of dark genius. He rages AND he is articulate. Almost all rage in writing is a result of inability to express the ideas swirling in the writer’s head. Not so Meades. Try this:
“Without exception, big-name architects turn out to be horizontals who happily put their knees behind their ears at the first sight of an oligarch, a Gulf princeling, a Central Asian dictator, a modern slave-driver or a property swine, while lecturing us on sustainability, low emissions, affordability, bicycles, ethical regeneration and whatever other right-on shibboleths are in the air this week.”
This is only a book review, but is nonetheless a neat encapsulation of what he does. His telly is even better. If you don’t like Meades, there’s something wrong with you.
What are women good for?
A different form of anger: crisp, sarky, snippety supercilious rage. It’s about seemingly serious research into the biological purpose of older women. And this is the beauty of the piece, that it’s not sure whether to take the research seriously or just sneer. It’s a fine line and one nicely trodden by Charlotte Lytton.
"Oddly, there was no research done into the purpose of men, past their baby-making prime (generally accepted to be around 25 to 30) or otherwise. While I understand that their ability to knock up women half their age even when toupée-toting and saggy balled is truly a gift from Mother Nature, one might argue that this isn’t the be all and end all of later-in-life contributions."
The Titanic and advertising
Dave Trott is an old-fashioned ad creative. He loves words, especially unusual words. He loves facts and history. I believe if he wrote a paragraph longer than 25 words, he would feel obliged to fall on his D&AD pencil. He writes in slogans. The single-minded sense of purpose of this piece, with every line worth its weight, is a lesson to lazy journalists everywhere.
"Experts don’t like simple answers. Experts like complicated answers. But I’ve found, if something doesn’t make sense to an ordinary person, it usually doesn’t make sense at all."
My mum's clever, she is
A lot of people don’t agree with Allison Pearson, but you can’t fault her writing. Want to be a columnist? She’s the one to beat. Her logic is unquestionable. Her vocabulary is magnificent. Her ability to bring a subject to life, to infuse it with emotion, is fabulous. This is about her mum, who left school at 16, being better educated than most young people with degrees.
“When my mother rang up the gas company not long ago to query her bill, the young guy at the other end of the phone made a big mistake. Gas Boy assumed he was dealing with a confused elderly lady. Uh-oh.
"It soon became embarrassingly clear that it was the elderly lady who had a firm grasp of the figures and the youngster who was confused. When my mum talked him through the arithmetic, which had got her to the correct amount, Gas Boy’s brain imploded. ‘How did you work that out?,’ he spluttered.”
It's enough to make you spit
The mayor of London is sponsoring an event for the 40th anniversary of punk. In this piece, Sean O’Hagan, rightly, says this is laughable, as does Joe Corre. Good enough premise, but the piece goes further, delving into late 1960s French left-wing philosophy along the way. Writing on pop culture doesn’t have to be stupid.
"Punk London is conclusive proof, if needed, of the French thinker Guy Debord’s assertion that consumer capitalism drains authentic lived experience of meaning. 'All that once was directly lived,' wrote Debord in 1967, 'has become mere representation.'"
Going round in circles
Declaration of interest: I’m mates with the writer. Muscular sentence structure, a use of language that lifts it above a mere quick bit of opinion and great jokes. Cohen is really funny. This is about a circular phone designed for women.
“The product is the brainchild of a start-up called Dtoor. Bless you. Oh, that wasn’t a sneeze? My mistake. Dtoor actually stands for ‘Designing the Opposite of Rectangle’. Naturally.”