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Things of note for the week ending Sunday, September 15th, 2019. 

Newsletter #303: Introduction 


Hello, friend.

Well, that was a week. 

Tuesday, in case you missed it, was #WorldSuicidePreventionDay and, after two and a bit years of thinking about my own experiences, I decided to write them up and post them against the hashtag - in the hope that it might reach someone, anyone, and make a difference.

Because this stuff matters. 

If you're inclined, you can read the whole thread over on Twitter. I have no doubt a small handful of you already have. I don't want to repeat those words here. They have been said now.

If they help you, or someone you know, then it was worth it. 

It's been a few days since it all came out like that and there are residual feelings back up swirling. Churned up from the floor. Marinading. Noodling.

I have been thinking about the road to Tuesday. What steps helped build me up to finally opening up in that way and sharing. Openly and in public. When were the moments I'd considered it and then ran away from it...? I don't know. Maybe unpacking that might be useful?

Might not.

Indulge me (or skip straight to THE THINGS - either or is fine). 

First, I remember thinking - not too long after returning to work - that maybe a year would do it. Fast forward a year and I wasn't ready (thanks Matt though for trying - you weren't to know).

The next time I thought about it after that was when I ran into an old boss. I remember what day it was because it was the same day I handed in everything at Ogilvy, the Monday after I left (remember when I left and I said they'd 'gifted me the most incredible care and support when I faced two of the toughest periods of my life that I have ever been through' - this was the major one of those two). It was a heavy day. Totes emosh.

I ran into James, after a long, great afternoon of drinking with myriad friends and, once we'd settled in for a Soho pint, I told him. I couldn't help myself. He's the bloody Chair of CALM for crying out loud (side point: crazy that I should have access to that level within the charity and yet I have no sense to use it. Long-time readers will know the work I've done with CALM - work that predates June 5th 2017). But I was blind to it.

'I will write about it' I said to James, 'I have to. I am not ready yet but it'll come'.

I've written for CALM before. Twice now I think. Perhaps that might be the platform to write again. I don't know. I have an odd relationship with writing. 

I think at that point I was several gins, wines, and beers in (it was my first official day of funemployment) in and I proceeded to talk about how they, CALM, were getting it wrong. I barely remember the rant but I'm sure it was rooted in something like 'How do you get people to stop when they believe with their heart of hearts that it is the right thing to do?!'

Last week I had breakfast with my friend Cate (hi Cate). She's great. (You know those friends who share an orbit with but then both get spun out into different galaxies and every now then your respective planets meet again with stories to share of the things they've seen - I think it's fair to say that's our kinda friendship). Cate noted, and I pointed it out in the thread, that she'd' noted a change in my writing. A vulnerability, she said. It was a huge moment for me. I don't know if Cate knew then (you know now) but it got me thinking again.

Something unlocked. 

And then it was Tuesday. #WSPD2019. 

That hashtag (alongside its other variations) sitting all up in my trends all day on Twitter - looking at me. Me looking at it. It soaked in.

Like any good brand advertiser will tell you, that's how brands grow. And grow it did. The germ of it. The germ of being able to talk about it. It grew. I lazily made my way home and thought about it some more. 'Yeah, I think it's probably time now'.

At the station, a crucial part of the journey I went on, the samaritans were giving out leaflets. A sign, I thought. And so I knew - it was ready to come out.

The last thing I needed to do before writing was talk to my partner.

'Is it OK if I talk about [the thing]?'
'If you're ready, then yes. Of course it is'.


So we walked home and had dinner. I poured out a glass of wine and just wrote.

And wrote and wrote and wrote.

...

The response has been overwhelming.

From the hundreds upon hundreds of words of support, the DMs, the emails, the people with their own stories - each at different stages of whatever road this is. It has been a humbling experience.

There's more, I think, that will follow (the examination of shame, the emphasis of experience-as-superpower), but that's not for now. A week of not thinking about it next week. Then another revisit, I think. Maybe. We'll see. 

We'll see. 

x

---

Right.

Onwards to THE THINGS then?

OK. Let's. 
1. THE CAROLINE CALLOWAY SAGA

Skip it if you've already had enough.

If this is news to you, then read on... 

 
Last week, The Cut published an essay by Natalie Beach, 'I was Caroline Calloway - Seven years after I met the infamous Instagram star, I'm ready to tell my side of the story.'

A little over 6000 words of dissecting what it's like to live in someone's shadow.  Since its publication five days ago there have been myriad response articles, tweet threads, judgments, dismissals etc... ('the complicated ethics of publishing personal essays' is a highlight). 

Some people will read it and not care.
Some people will read it and think those involved need help (and they probably do).
Some people won't read it at all.

When I initially read the piece - and subsequently marked it for Five things on Friday inclusion, I was taken aback by the writing. It really is so well-written and you can tell that Natalie Beach has a talent for words. For that reason alone I would compel to you read it.

And then maybe draw your own conclusions on the subject matter thereafter.

 
2. THE BOOK OF PRINCE

'Prince had grand plans for his autobiography, but only a few months to live' 

From one pretty massive essay to another (sorry). 
Prince wanted to write a book. 

He needed a co-writer. 

So he quietly put out the call. 

Dan Piepenbring writes...


"On January 29, 2016, Prince summoned me to his home, Paisley Park, to tell me about a book he wanted to write. He was looking for a collaborator. Paisley Park is in Chanhassen, Minnesota, about forty minutes southwest of Minneapolis. Prince treasured the privacy it afforded him. He once said, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, that Minnesota is “so cold it keeps the bad people out.” Sure enough, when I landed, there was an entrenched layer of snow on the ground, and hardly anyone in sight.

Prince’s driver, Kim Pratt, picked me up at the airport in a black Cadillac Escalade. She was wearing a plastic diamond the size of a Ring Pop on her finger. “Sometimes you gotta femme it up,” she said. She dropped me off at the Country Inn & Suites, an unremarkable chain hotel in Chanhassen that served as a de-facto substation for Paisley. I was “on call” until further notice. A member of Prince’s team later told me that, over the years, Prince had paid for enough rooms there to have bought the place four times over.

My agent had put me up for the job but hadn’t refrained from telling me the obvious: at twenty-nine, I was extremely unlikely to get it. In my hotel room, I turned the television on. I turned the television off. I had a mint tea. I felt that I was joining a long and august line of people who’d been made to wait by Prince, people who had sat in rooms in this same hotel, maybe in this very room, quietly freaking out just as I was quietly freaking out."


Every six months or so another great piece of writing appears that talks about encounters with Prince.

This is one of those
3. AND NOW, A VISUAL INTERLUDE

Found a new Tumblr.
Dedicated to the Sci-Fi art of the 70s. 
And some of it is utterly gorgeous
So if this kind of stuff floats your boat... 
...Get yourself over to 70s Sci-Fi Art dot tumblr dot com.

Quick smart. 
4. OK, SO NOW LET'S GET WEIRD

Here we go. 
"With the world combusting around us, perhaps this explicit way of worshipping at the altar of celebrity culture—or stanning real-life people so hard that they become celebrities within our own social circles—really tells us that we’re craving a connection so deeply that, as Tolentino writes, we’d even “accept it in the form of murder.” Just me?"

Read 'Why has our online THIRST taken a violent turn?' at GQ.
5. SMART HULK, OLD CAP, AND LEBOWSKI THOR - HOW THEY DID IT
A 20 mind WIRED doc on the SFX on AVENGERS: ENDGAME?

OH GO ON THEN.
Fun fact: all three above-named characters (along with Thanos for that matter) were developed and delivered by different SFX houses.

This is a great watch

 

THE ESSENTIALS: 

The Essentials are the weekly links to the #MeToo movement. Any article. Any press. Any story. Any white male firing. If it happens, it's here. 

STOP. BONUS LINK TIME.  

THIS IS IT THE PENULTIMATE SECTION OF THE NEWSLETTER. NO STOPPING UNTIL THOSE TABS SCREAM MERCY. READY? LET'S GO. 

And I think that's where we'll leave that for this week...
CONGRATULATIONS!

You are nearing the end of the newsletter!

A heavier than usual things this week. But that's OK. I'll say it again, if you've encountered any of the stuff I mentioned in the opening section of this week's newsletter, then hit reply and say hi.

The popularity of that thread also meant a HUGE influx of new subscribers. Knocking this thing well over the 2000 sub mark (meaning Mailchimp is now billing me - that's also OK). Hello everyone! 


I've got a few tech-based administrative things on my to-do list this week. Moving my entire GSuite account back to Gmail is first on the list (don't ask - well, do, if it's relevant, and I'll write about it). Once that's done, I'll probably attempt to move FToF from Mailchimp to TinyLetter (the former allows 2k free subs, the latter 5k).

Pending any wild interventions, you shouldn't notice much of a change at all (one hopes). But we'll see.

So yeah, that's me.

I hope you're having a lovely weekend. My daughter is downstairs making animal biscuits and I've got a picnic to put together. 

Can't remember if I've said it before but 'This too shall pass' is a life philosophy I subscribe to. But the thing with this four-word piece of magic is that it is supposed to make a sad person happy and a happy person sad. The first bit is OK. The second bit doesn't ring true for me anymore. These days, when I'm happy, and I hear 'this too shall pass' in my head, I don't worry. I cherish. I become immediately present. And just enjoy.

This too shall pass - and that's OK. 

Until next time,

Whatley out x

 
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