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w/e 2022-01-30

Highlight of the week was Monday’s anniversary: 13 years since our wedding and 20 years – TWENTY! – since we transitioned from two friends going to see films together, one of whom was apparently giving the other all the signals despite the other’s complete obliviousness to them, to “going out”. Like so many things it both seems an age away and only a couple of years ago.

To celebrate we stayed for a night in the Angel Hotel in Abergavenny. A swanky hotel, a lovely dinner, delicious breakfast, and good service. What a guilty treat in these wary times.

It was also nice to have an excuse to dig out some smart clothes for a change. Of course I had to put aside two nice, and too-expensive, jumpers that moths had made holes in. How did they do that when the jumpers were sealed in bags? How did they know to make one hole, right on the front of each jumper? We shall never know. Otherwise, it was nice to dress smart.

§ Since then it’s been a bit of a down week for this half of the couple. No idea why. Mid-winter blues? Easing off the anti-migraine medication which were also, handily, mild anti-depressants? Life two years into a pandemic in the middle of nowhere, with no aims or ambitions, in an unfair country ruled by kleptocrats, in a world doomed to environmental disasater? Who can say.

§ Which reminds me, I’m nearly a third of the way through The Ministry for the Future and I’m very much looking forward to the parts that I’ve seen people say give them some optimism for how the climate emergency is handled because so far 😬

Photo of a plant stem that ends in 'flowers' that are whispy, curly tendrils covered in fluffy whiteness
Old Man’s Beard

§ I also had a visit to the hygienist this week, to scrub and scrape away over two years’ of stains. My teeth were so white during the years I didn’t drink tea or coffee. Anyway, it all went fine.

When I was a kid I read a feature in one of the weekend magazines that asked dentists which toothpaste they used, or maybe recommended. Mentadent P was the winner and I used that for decades because of that one article. The power of mainstream media in the olden days. But Mentadent P became increasingly hard to find so I gave up on it and for the past few years I’ve been toothpaste homeless.

I asked the hygienist which toothpaste they recommend and she said people who’ve used Oral B seem to do well. So, when I was at the supermarket, I decided to buy some but had the usual paralysis of choice problem when it comes to toothpaste. I just want normal good toothpaste. I don’t need whitening, or repair, or professional, or deep-clean, or sensitive. Or “Pro-Expert”. Or “3D”. Just the “normal” one. What’s the normal toothpaste?

Anyway I bought one, I can’t even remember which, and it is white and toothpastey and maybe I can just stick with that forever now?

§ All that Neil Young hoo-ha made me realise that since I was moved from Spotify’s long-retired £5 per month plan to the standard £10 per month plan last year, there’s no reason other than inertia to stay using Spotify, given the other options at a similar price. I’m not overly attached given I can apparently export playlists to other services. But which one?

The obvious choice for me is Apple Music but I am wary of it. It’s not clear to me how it would integrate with all those MP3s I’ve lovingly tended over the past couple of decades. Would it become impossible to easily tell what’s “mine” versus what’s streaming or downloaded from Apple Music? Would there be a danger of the system replacing one version of a track with a different streamed or downloaded one? iTunes Match, which I used for a year or so, way back, seemed to have that danger and I felt lucky to have escaped.

Tidal is majority-owned by Jack Twitter’s blockchain payments eye-roller Block Inc. Qobuz has a name that sounds like an over-funded celebrity start-up that would burn out a year later. Deezer has a daft name that sounds like half of the punchline to a bad joke.

I guess I’m fortunate that my brain has many spare cycles to spend on this problem given how high up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs “Choosing a not-unethical and not-embarrassing music streaming service” (or “choosing the normal toothpaste”) must be.

Anyway, if you have strong opinions either way about any service I am all ears.

§ That’s all.

All a bit glum this week, soz. But I did enjoy this video of pre-fame Betty Boo and her fellow She Rockers auditioning for Public Enemy’s Professor Griff after bumping into him in Shepherd’s Bush McDonald’s in 1987, so I’ll leave you with this (via BBC News via Things Mag):


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  1. I've struggled with a similar internal debate about music services, except for buying music rather than streaming it. Bandcamp is the easy answer in my situation (for albums that are available there, which luckily seems to be most of them now), but I don't think they offer any sort of subscription service for streaming. I ended up reluctantly going with Tidal for releases from the major labels, and falling back to Qobuz for albums that are missing or otherwise non-downloadable from Tidal (Tidal's data normalization and technology seem to be... not the best). I wrote a bit about my thought process, but there's probably nothing earth-shattering there.

  2. Thanks for that Dan. I haven’t given the ethics of where to buy music much thought simply because at least 90% of music I buy (which is only a couple of albums a month) is available on Bandcamp. For the small remainder I usually default to using Apple (because it’s easy) or sometimes 7Digital (who I used to use a lot more years ago). It hadn’t occurred to me you could buy on Tidal as well as stream.

    Like you, I’m reassured by owning a lot of music. It’s nice to know that if it came down to it I could unsubscribe from all streaming services and still have all the music I like most.

  3. Hello Phil, sorry to go off topic, but you know the piece you wrote about the mysterious disappearance of the John Pitman / Adam Curtis documentary about Walton on the Naze from YouTube? Well, to my total astonishment, I've managed to make it play on the famous WaybackMachine website. I've known about the website for ages but it never occurred to me that you could play videos on it that were no longer available on YouTube as it is today. I thought it was images/text only. Here it is:…

    Sadly it looks like part 2 isn't available, but part 3 is, (albeit on a small screen when I'm trying to watch it anyway).

    Best wishes, Andrew
    {Andrew JS on YouTube}

  4. Well, well, well, I sent a message to the YouTube uploader who had made the videos of the Walton on the Naze programme "private" for some bizarre reason for a number of years. Within a few minutes the responded to my message to make them public again! That was a fast response which I didn't expect. So my previus message about the Wayback Machine is a bit redundant now. Regards, Andrew

    The programme back on "public" YouTube in 3 parts:………

  5. Thanks Andrew! I only just saw these comments now, having noticed your tweet a few hours ago. I obviously need to make my comment notification system more aggressive, given they're more important to me!

    I'm looking forward to giving these a watch again after so long.