How to be clear

Published in notes, working in the open.


You can spend a lot of time coming up with tactics and strategies for your communication, but the most valuable tool you can use is also the simplest: clarity.

If you communicate with clarity, people will spend less time trying to interpret what you’re saying. As a result, they’ll understand you faster, with less effort.

Make what you’re saying easy and quick to read and understand, and people will respond by reading more of it, and asking you fewer questions afterwards.

It helps to try and be a bit user-centered, or reader-centered.


All first drafts are bad drafts (and that’s what makes them good)

Published in notes, working in the open.

A screenshot from Google Docs, with a comment from the author saying "I have no idea what I'm doing"

All first drafts of anything are bad drafts. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing – the first version of it probably won’t be very good.

Understand and accept this, and suddenly the task of writing becomes a little bit easier, because it lifts a weight off your shoulders, and lets you use your first draft in the best way: as a playground for ideas.


Snow day

Published in life, photo diary.


How to write like you speak

Published in working in the open.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Write like you speak” a thousand times before, but actually writing like that doesn’t come easily to lots of people. It’s a skill that takes time to master.

So for most people, the easiest way to write like you speak is to write by speaking: step away from the keyboard, go for a walk, and talk to thin air about what you need to put down on paper.


Unreel #21

Published in radio.

Broadcast date: 25 January 2021

Listen again. Spotify playlist.

  • Hey DJ / I can’t dance (to that music you’re playing), by Betty Boo
  • Secrets and lies, by Raz and Afla
  • Damsel in distress, by Rufus Wainwright
  • Need your loving, The Flirtations
  • Accident, Jenny Hval & Laura Jean
  • Pink frost, The Chills
  • Rescue, Echo & the Bunnymen
  • Hashish, Thurston Moore
  • Buggin’ out, A Tribe Called Quest
  • Projector, Daniel Avery
  • Jump n shout, Basement Jaxx
  • Two months off, Underworld


I couldn’t take this photo, so I’ll write it instead

Published in notes, photography.

Melksham is a small Wiltshire town a few miles from my house, and it’s where I rent an office. The drive from home to office takes me through pretty countryside – mostly flat, mostly green, mostly typical of the sort of countryside you get in this part of the world. But on the edge of Melksham itself there’s an area of low-lying fields either side of the river: nature’s flood protection mechanism. When the river swells, which it does after heavy rain, the fields disappear under a beautiful mirrored lake. As I drive past, I can see this flood plain to my right. In the mornings, the sun is rising on the other side of it, the light bouncing off the water. This morning I saw that scene again, but with added extras: overnight, the floodwater had frozen. The morning sun was bright, but weak, fighting against a thin but persistent fog. Steam was rising from the mile-long flood, thickening the fog above it. The flood itself was too bright to look at. Stalks of last summer’s crops were visible, poking up above the cracked, frozen water. It was spectacular. I would have stopped, obviously, and I would have taken pictures. But it’s a fast road, and there’s nowhere to stop, so I didn’t, and I typed this instead.


Unreel #20 – Uncovered

Published in radio.

Every 10 shows, we do a theme: this time it was cover versions.

Broadcast date: 18 January 2021

Listen again. Spotify playlist.

  • Lithium, Little Roy
  • True Faith, Denise Johnson
  • Love will tear us apart, In the Nursery
  • Sweet dreams seven nation army mashup, Pomplamoose & Sarah Dugas
  • Tomorrow never knows, Junior Parker
  • Easy, Faith No More
  • Personal Jesus, Johnny Cash
  • Sweet talkin’ woman, Five Iron Frenzy
  • Mr Blue Sky, Lily Allen
  • It’s not unusual, The Wedding Present
  • Rolling in the deep, The Ukeleles
  • Lovesong, Adele
  • Pacific 202, Williams Fairey Brass Band
  • Can’t get Blue Monday out of my head, Kylie Minogue


80s singalong – a one-off radio special

Published in radio.

Broadcast date: 16 January 2021

Listen again. Spotify playlist.

  • Wake me up before you go-go, Wham!
  • Master blaster, Stevie Wonder
  • Upside down, Donna Summer
  • Boys of summer, Don Henley
  • The day before you came, ABBA
  • Take on me, A-ha
  • The riddle, Nik Kershaw
  • Land of confusion, Genesis
  • Video killed the radio star, Buggles
  • Our lips are sealed, The Go-Gos
  • Say hello wave goodbye, Soft Cell
  • Fashion, David Bowie
  • Road to nowhere, Talking Heads
  • Madam butterfly, Malcolm McClaren
  • Faith, George Michael
  • Things that dreams are made of, Human League
  • Kids in America, Kim Wilde
  • Inbetween days, The Cure
  • Put the message in the box, World Party
  • I’m still standing, Elton John
  • I knew you were waiting (for me), George Michael & Aretha Franklin
  • Coming up, Paul McCartney
  • Duel, Propaganda
  • New song, Howard Jones
  • Africa, TOTO
  • Shout, Tears for Fears
  • Don’t you want me, Human League

This was originally going to be a Christmas holidays show, but I didn’t record it soon enough, so it ended up being a Saturday special instead.


Unreel #19

Published in radio.

Unreel has a new visual identity. More moody black-and-white photography to follow for every show.

Broadcast date: 11 January 2021

Listen again. Spotify playlist.

  • 3AM Eternal, KLF
  • Therefore I am, Billie Eilish
  • Celebrate you, Kylie Minogue
  • Ceffylau, Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita
  • Dizzy, Bedouine
  • Too many people, Pet Shop Boys
  • Telekit, Elite Panic
  • Freeman, Hardy and Willis acid, Squarepusher
  • Whistling in the dark, They Might Be Giants
  • Peanuts grow underground, Pixx
  • From out of nowhere, Faith No More
  • Fortunately gone, The Breeders
  • I surrender, David Sylvian

Quote of the week: “You haven’t really lived until you’ve driven a long way in a car with 3 under-12s on the back seat, all singing along loudly to ‘Whistling / whistling / Whistling / whistling / Dark / DARK! / dark / DARK!'”


Tab dump

Published in web.

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