COVID and the consumer

It sounds a bit like Beauty and the Beast, however, there’s no happy ending where you make out with a prince. Talking candlesticks and sourdough starters, for sure. A recent report from Mintel explored the impact that COVID-19 is likely to have on the out-of-home leisure industry, which includes restaurants, casinos, gyms, cinemas, and my employer’s unique position in music entertainment.

“COVID-19 will inflict severe damage to the out-of-home leisure industry over the next few years, whilst sectors that were already struggling, such as nightclubs, may never fully recover. However, the crisis will also prove to be the catalyst for the launch and development of more digital services that allow consumers to replicate out-of-home experiences in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Crucially, the underlying consumer trend towards valuing experiences over possessions means that the sector will eventually regain lost ground, even if the brands and the formats are very different to the pre-COVID world.”

–    Paul Davies, Category Director – Leisure, Foodservice, Travel and B2B Research – 24 June 2020

Having read the report, here’s a TLDR;

  • Estimated severe impact on the sector in the medium term (6 to 24 months), with a medium impact in the next 2 to 5 years
  • Consumer anxiety levels align with case curve (so currently diminishing in the UK, rising in the US)
  • Gyms may not recover as alternate fitness routines continue
  • Consumer confidence in their financial situation over the next year? 50% within the UK are concerned but think it’ll be ok, and 30% confident it will remain stable
  • Boutique is best, and differentiation is better than discounting

As with everything right now, let’s wait and see how this pans out.

Bonus reading: on losing the American desire to shop — I Don’t Feel Like Buying Stuff Anymore, via BuzzFeed.


New frontiers

Guess who’s back, back again… Last time we met, dear reader, it was a warm, endless, globe-trotting, city-hopping summer in another decade. Today, I write from my living room in East London where I have been watching the world go by, as the UK edges past two months in lockdown. What better time than now to invigorate my output?

Aside from a worldwide pandemic, a few things that are different: I have a relatively new job in UX writing in the music technology industry, which I love. I have a cat, which I love. There’s a man with a beard from Chicago who lives at my house, who I love. I have gained an MA in Digital Management and started an MSc in Business and Organisational Psychology, which excites me.

I’m hoping to move forward with this space, showcasing inspiration from and about the internet, UX practices, consumer psychology, writing and literature, and other ‘cool shit I like’.


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Critical Linking

🌈 To make sense of messy research, get visual, says the IDEO design team. I feel post-its coming on. LINK

🧠 The surprising link between language and depression. LINK

“Now, in a whole long day of croissants in the morning and multiple dog walks and stops at the bodega for yogurt and jam, I may speak with people I care about only in type.”

Elizabeth Wurtzel, on self-help

🍽 The Pencilsword on a plate – a short comic about privilege by perennial favourite, Kiwi illustrator Toby Morris. LINK

🐕 A heart-warming piece on the human/doge relationship. Love rarely touches the reasoning parts of the brain. It touches the dreamy parts, the devoted parts—it touches the parts we sometimes call the heart. For many thousands of years, it’s there that our dogs have lived. LINK

🌝 This Friday the UK will see the longest lunar eclipse in a century. Blood moon! LINK

🗺 Native Land – a map of indigenous territories. LINK

♻ The phrase ‘men are trash’ can actually be directly translated into; ‘masculinity is in transition and it’s not moving fucking fast enough.’ LINK

This week I’m also thinking about:

  • Not much due to the London heatwave
  • Planning trips to Norway, Dublin, Jordan and Egypt, followed by New Zealand in December
  • Theatre – planning to see Killer Joe (aka Orlando Bloom’s butt), Summer & Smoke, Hamilton, the Heathers musical


The otter is ninety percent water
Ten percent God.
This is a mastery
We have not fathomed in a million years.
I saw one once, off the teeth of western Scotland,
Playing games with the Atlantic –
Three feet of gymnastics
Taking on an ocean.

– Kenneth Steven


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Critical Linking

🚲 Below the Surface – what will you find when you dredge an Amsterdam canal? LINK

🔱 What if you knew you were going to die? Most likely, though, the majority of individuals would toggle between being hyper-motivated and nihilistic. LINK

⏳ A room of one’s own for writers, a la Virginia Woolf – I love this idea. LINK

🐬 The origins of the phrase Hurry Slowly. As a teenager, I lived on the outskirts of a ‘Slow Living’ village, a physical ode to mindfulness, so this resonates. Perhaps more now than it did then! LINK

🧠 12 things everyone should understand about tech. LINK

💮 The Lotus Blossom technique for creative idea generation. LINK

👙 Learning to Speak Lingerie. Chinese lingerie merchants in Egypt and the inroads of globalisation. LINK

🏆 Where the success leaks out (in your practice). LINK

🦂 Drake’s Scorpion album as explained by an astrologer and an entomologist. LINK

⚽ The psychology of the England football team – great insight into how modern teams can harness their power. LINK



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Critical Linking

🍕 What does randomness look like? Featuring glow-worms from the Waitomo caves. LINK

🇬🇧 Photos of London in the Blitz. LINK

🌲 A quest to get inside Britain’s biggest weed greenhouse…The UK is the world’s biggest exporter of cannabis-derived medicines. LINK

🧠 The ultimate psychology reading list via the BPS. LINK

🦒 “The reputation laundering firm that ruined its own reputation”.A fascinating collapse – the Bell Pottinger story. Hits close to home as I was working in PR in London at the time, and am still a member of the PRCA… It’s a shocking story, but unfortunately, something that seems to happen again and again. LINK

📺 The myth of learning styles. LINK

👯 Immodest women alert! Why female doctors shouldn’t hide their titles. LINK

🇷🇺 Winnow’s podcast of the week: She’s In Russia. LINK


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Critical Linking

😃 Martha Beck, the merchant of just be happy. LINK

🖥 The rise of AI documentary by Bloomberg. LINK

🎹 Angélique Kidjo on the myth of cultural appropriation and covering Talking Heads’ Remain in Light in its entirety. Including this magical version of Once in a Lifetime, one of my spirit songs. LINK

“Humans have moved from a world where they met only a few hundred people during their entire lifetime, to encountering that many strangers riding the subway or attending a conference,” says Rollag. “We are out of our element from an evolutionary standpoint, and our minds and cognitive abilities are still catching up.”

 👻 ^Why we’re hardwired to be anxious at a new job. LINK

💌 In the wake of this week’s sad high profile suicides, Brene Brown explains that everyone has a story. LINK

🙅🏽‍♀️ I fell in love with Laura Berger’s work this week – fluidity, evolution and connection. LINK

🎧 Rowan Slaney’s favourite podcasts made by women. LINK

🎯 “If I start from the basic assumption that attention is life, then how I cultivate my attention and direct it, is how I live and cultivate my life. To not spend time obsessing about this to a certain extent is sort of saying, ‘I don’t particularly care how my life unfolds.” –Jocelyn K. Glei’s Hurry Slowly is one of the most thought-provoking podcasts I listen to, and the ideas around attention in this interview with Jonathan Fields really resonated. LINK

🌾 Sensing a theme yet? Introducing Winnow, a podcasting directory and support network for women, non-binary people, and their co-hosts. It’s the first intervention for my Hyper Island innovation project. To winnow is to blow a current of air through (grain) in order to remove the chaff… I also like the potential of a WIN NOW interpretation. LINK

This week I am also thinking about:

  • I became a UK citizen after nearly seven years! Hurrah. My friend Lisa took me out for Pimms afterwards, the quintessential celebration.
  • While I am a known plant nerd, it appears I sleep-bought a membership to the Royal Horticultural Society last month… I also visited Kew Gardens this weekend.
  • Being a ‘project’ person versus those who don’t have a massive array of personal, usually unpaid projects always on the go. While some of this is currently attributed to my masters’, there has and always will be those projects. Kindred, Book Club for Drunks, zines, films, bars…
music Notebook

Introduce myself to June

Wimbledon & Pimms

I’m going to introduce myself to June
It’s my first summer in so many moons
I’m gonna eat ice cream outside a used bookstore
Gonna buy a used book when I go in
I’m gonna buy me a banana seat bike
And spend my time with people I like
And save my love for my dog and the stars that fall
Over old Lake Michigan.

My sentiment for the summer. ‘Introduction to June’ by the Capital Sunrays [via AskMefi]



What the story wants

Ira Glass

Ira Glass recently made a commencement speech at the Columbia Journalism School Graduation. I found it rather buoying to hear he was 36 when he started This American Life… Presumably how long it took to develop the gap between his taste and creative goals.

Here’s my favourite bit on the subject editing, which rings true. The story usually does have a life of its own!

Editing is crucial because in my experience anything you try to make – what YOU want is for the story to be AMAZING. But what the story wants to be is MEDIOCRE OR WORSE. And the entire process of making the story is convincing the story to not be what it wants to be, which is BAD.

And for broadcasters and podcasters:

…Be in the tape! Cajoling, hondling, joking with, arguing with, interacting with your interviewees. It’s the single easiest way to make your stories better. Be in the tape. An interview properly done is a drama with two characters and not being in there as one of the characters is giving up one of your greatest powers. Don’t leave that power unused. Be in the tape. Don’t settle for less. Don’t do less than you can. Be in the tape.


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Critical Linking

🧠 Mental models – an almost complete guide. LINK

🕰 Everything is timing. Being awake to temporal forces can help us work smarter and live better. LINK

⛵ These Women Circumnavigated The Earth But Came Back To The Same Sexist Attitudes. An amazing story of perseverance, ocean life and the retrograde bullshit of the Indian Navy. LINK

☠ The Corpse Project. What is the most eco-friendly way to shuffle off this mortal coil? LINK

👾 Discovering a name for it. The imp of the perverse – a metaphor for the urge to do exactly the wrong thing in a given situation for the sole reason that it is possible for wrong to be done. LINK

💘 Esther Perel on the different language men and women use when we ask for what we want in relationships, and the permissions we are granted by society. LINK

🔮 The tarot cards of tech. LINK

⌨ There is no place for Garamond on the web, with reference to graffiti from Pompeii. LINK

This week I am also thinking about:

  • Resilience in the workplace, and whether resilient people are the key to adaptable companies.
  • Jessica Lanyadoo’s horoscopes and how they serve as really on-point life advice stars aside. “Growth requires you to change and to risk outgrowing things or people that you’re invested in. Follow the organic flow of your life to see where it takes you this week, Scorpio. You’re ready to embody more of yourself in your relationships, even if that means going through a period of discomfort or uncertainty with others. When you show up with more of yourself, things get more real, and if that makes things worse, then it’s just a matter of time anyways. Show up all the way.”
  • I’ve started a full-time contract at Canary Wharf – it feels very back to the future, it was the first area in London I worked, circa 2011. Get your nails done on demand. Amazon Lockers in the canteen. Self-scan & pay machines at the pharmacy. Conveyor belt food options. The design on convenience for an (upper-middle class segment) office worker is insane.
  • Reading Esther Perel’s The State Of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity – a book for anyone who has ever loved. (And wondering how I can look as good as the author at 60.)