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Three things I learned this week, and two things I want to know

The aesthetics of cheese packaging

This week, I proofread a packaging design guide for a cheese company, and it was a soothing job. I love the attention to line and colour and balance and it reminds me how every single thing manufactured around us has been designed and thought out carefully by countless humans at countless stages then moulded, mined and made by countless others.

The size and weight of the paper in my books, the shape of the keys on my laptop, the twist of the cables, the depth of my teaspoon, the recipe of the ink in my pen. Manufactured *things* are an amazing collaborative feat, and I don’t often stop to take notice.

A variety of sliced cheese packages on a wooden table.

(Image for illustrative purposes only; not the range I worked on.)

The Runaway Mop Fair

A wet funfair at night

This (sodden) weekend is the second weekend of the Warwick Mop Fair. (If the mop doesn’t bring on autumn, nothing will.) I learned about this fairly local and ancient tradition soon after we moved to the English Midlands, but only learned this week that the second weekend is known as the runaway mop, because the people who regretted the employment deals they made the previous weekend would escape their bosses and try again.

Objets in waiting rooms

A black rounded vase thing (or is it an alien object?) on a blue carpet

This is one of the two things I thought about this week without really learning the answer. What does this thing do in a waiting room? Where do orthodontists find them? Where does it come from? Why is it here?

Side lesson: youths can get things called ‘turbos’ installed in their mouths.

Redeeming Roald Dahl?

A man in red pyjamas levititing; a still of Benedict Cumberbacth playing Henry Sugar in Wes Anderson's short film 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar'

Another more-questions-than-answers thought came up when I watched The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. I love the stylish artifice of Wes Anderson’s film, but Roald Dahl’s tone is misanthropic and entirely mis(or a-)sogynist off and on the page. It made me wonder why such a fab director and cast (Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel, Ben Kingsley, Richard Ayoade) were putting their creative effort into resuscitating a writer whose work should probably be allowed to recede.

You can charge down a conversion and you can opt for a scrum after a mark

South African rugby player Cheslin Kolbe blocks a conversion attempt by French player Thomas Ramos

South Africa made some innovative/decency-skirting (depending on your side) and confident choices in the extremely close win over France in the rugby world cup quarter-finals last weekend. Next up: England. We’ll see.

Which item pleased you most?

  • Cheese packaging

  • Runaway mop

  • Waiting room objets

  • Anderson/Dahl


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