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Late night baking


Hasn’t happened for a while since I got the hang of timing (and controlling) the rise of my sourdough but I ended up doing a late night bake tonight (pictured above), hence sneaking this post just under the line. I’d not accounted for the time allotted for rising in Dan Lepard’s recipe for chocolate and pecan brioche twists so ended up finishing baking two hours later than anticipated. This was most disappointing for P, since I think she was hoping to sample the results when still warm. Still, it should make a cracking breakfast tomorrow.

Best goal in European Cup final evah

Champions League final at Wembley tonight, won by Bayern Munich 2-1 against Borussia Dortmund. Good excuse to dig this video out, of one of the greatest players of all time, Zinedine Zidane, scoring the winner for Real Madrid in 2002.

I’m afraid your Rule Britannia mania doesn’t ring so true / If I was captain of the waves I’d turn the gun on you…

Amidst the unfortunately predictable reaction from extremists to the horrific attack in Woolwich yesterday (not necessarily helped by the way it was reported, but that’s a debate for another time), I can’t help but be reminded of George Orwell’s essay ‘Notes on Nationalism’ and his distinction between patriotism and nationalism. In brief, and I believe this is the most common understanding of his essay ((which means I’m not going to get into a debate with any scholars of Orwell, even though I was one in my university days)) is that patriotism is a love of your country while nationalism is a hatred of other countries.

Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. […] By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, NOT for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

from George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism

That word defensive is interesting…

Post title lyric taken from The Beautiful South – Have You Ever Been Away?

Good writing v talented writing

Brain Pickings, in Good Writing vs. Talented Writing, on Samuel Delany’s book About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews:

One of his key observations is the crucial difference between “good writing” and “talented writing,” the former being largely the product of technique (and we know from H.P. Lovecraft that “no aspiring author should content himself with a mere acquisition of technical rules”), the other a matter of linguistic and aesthetic sensitivity.

I’ve often felt that the more I write and edit copy focused on making someone do something – what we call in the business a ‘call to action’ – the less I’m able to write beautifully.

There is a certain beauty, of course, to finely honed copy that has absolutely no fat on it and does exactly what it needs while still possessing the feel of the brand it’s representing it’s a kind of brutal beauty. Part of me looks back at my Londonist days, when I innocently wrote in a certain florid style with on the pigheaded basis that I didn’t want to patronise my readers by avoiding using multi-syllabic words (that’s words with more than one syllable), and cringes. Were I to write those articles again, I’d no doubt be more conscious of the need to optimise for search engines as well as stick to a more quotidian style, in order not to alienate readers or risk obscuring meaning.

So in the ‘good’ versus ‘talented’ dichotomy (have your own argument about whether it’s a false one or not), my day job is firmly on the side of good writing. Yet talented writing needn’t mean long-winded or over-wrought. As the Brain Pickings article points out, “In fact, the true potency of “talented writing,” Delany suggests, lies in its ability to compress subtle yet all-consuming sensation into an enormously efficient information packet.”