Episode 2: The culture that saved us in lockdown
Download transcript here or read below.
This second episode of our much-lauded podcast is a lil lockdown special where we chat about the bits o' ~culture~ that've been getting us through the hellscape that is 2020. We chat about Gab's freaky psychic connection with the radio, (romantically speaking) why Zarina loves period dramas, and like... a lot of wheezy laughing away from the microphone, and tryna hold in an enormous honking snort laugh while Gab tells a story about how she nearly proposed on a bungee jump in the Millennium Dome. All Quality, Top-Notch, Intellectual, high-brow Art Critic stuff.
Transcribed by Michael Lacey
Jingle by Toynoiz
G: Sync clap! I don’t know if we have to do that at the same time… anyway, welcome to the second episode of the remastered White Pube podcast. I am Gabrielle de la Puente…
Z: I’m Zarina Muhammad
G:…and we are art critics / game critics / sometimes Zarina writes about food. In today’s episode we are going to be talking about the culture things that have helped us survive through lockdown. I think a good way of framing it is that the Government doesn’t seem to care that much about funding the arts, or saving the arts, theatre, especially live music… everyone is being made redundant everywhere if they are anything less than the director of a gallery. It just kills me a little bit, because I wouldn’t have been able to get through any of this without culture. Culture is all I have had to do, it’s all that has seen me through the days. That and food. So I feel like what we should do today is just give thanks.
Z: I am thankful for… pop culture! No, it’s a good shout, because as critics generally, this isn’t an of-the-moment thing. This is lockdown-specific, but it extends beyond lockdown as a thing. Like, we as critics have always been insistent that culture is not limited to highbrow and lowbrow. We’ve reviewed Keeping Up With The Kardashians, we’ve reviewed Love Island, we give thanks for culture in all forms. Pop, or snobby!
G: We’ll give thanks to nice creative people and the funding or whatever it is, at that point, that helped it come true. So, shall we just take turns?
Z: Yeah go on, you go first though, because you’ve got a plan and I don’t know what you’ve got planned.
G: I’ve not really got a plan, I’ve just got everything memorised in my head. What I started off doing in lockdown, which I have seen other people relate to, is just a good old Parks and Rec rewatch.
Z: Oh, oh yeah.
Z: I’ve not done that yet though, but I feel like it’s coming.
Z: We’ll get to it, we’ll get to what I’ve been watching. Don’t you worry. Don’t look at me like that. But I’ve not done a Parks and Rec rewatch yet.
G: It was like… the strangest… normally when I watch TV, especially when I’m on my own, just sitting there, looking up and down at me phone, maybe having some food… I was like, crying laughing at the things that were happening in those episodes. Because it just hit differently. It really got to me. Those sweet wholesome moments when everything’s good, and aren’t-these-nice-people-on-the-TV-show-being-nice-to-each-other… I was crying, I felt so reactive. It really hit differently, I really recommend it. I wondered what else would do that for me? I don’t know.
Z: I bet you as well, Ron Swanson hits a bit different in quarantine.
Z: You know what I mean? If you’re not in lockdown, Ron Swanson has got something of the quirky eccentric about him, the American survivalist, you know? There’s something slightly loony about him. But! In lockdown, I bet everyone was sat there thinking, I wish I could build shelves and I had an enormous shed full of cans.
G: I remember wanting to get into a bit of that at the beginning and then just stopped myself, because, what if the reason I had to go to hospital was not because of Coronavirus but because I had cartoon-style hammered a nail through me thumb and then I went and got Coronavirus? I was like nah, not even going to risk it.
Z: Oh my god really? Have you not been doing any Ron Swanson DIY projects?
G: No… no, now is not the time. I’m just going to be safe, I want to play it safe.
Z: I built myself at least three raised beds, I did loads of digging as well. I feel like I channelled Ron Swanson. Self-sufficient.
G: It really saw me through the first month I think, back-to-back, six episodes at a time. It was great.
Z: What is it about watching a TV show back-to-back… because I’ll just put Netflix on my laptop, right, I’ll take it with me everywhere around the house. I’ll be doing a poo watching Netflix.
G: My Sister did that with Desperate Housewives. She doesn’t, and has never owned a laptop… so she would just play it off her phone all day every day, as like, a filler between the things that you actually have to do, or leaving the house. I would always hear it in the background, like white noise.
Z: Yeah, I love that. Don’t you do that?
G: Not really. Sometimes with the radio, 100%, shout out to Capital, of all the fucking radio stations… Zarina, I have never listened to the radio as much in my life. This year more than any. I don’t know what it is.
Z: Is it because you live alone now?
G: No no, even before, when I was living in me Nan’s, I would just listen to Capital all the time. I would listen to it that long that I would hear when the songs looped around, in the day.
Z: Oh my God.
G: So intense!
Z: Who is it now?
G: Couldn’t tell you.
Z: I used to listen to Capital when I was at school, when I was at primary school. The breakfast show, it used to be Chris Tarrant and then it was Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen, and now I don’t know, who is it? Ronan…
G: People are going to see the title of this episode and think - ah yeah I’m going to get some really good recommendations of things that I can do in Lockdown 2. And I’m like… I listen to Capital FM. It was so, so sad.
Z: I’m not having it. When you think about Capital FM’s listener numbers, and the Tate’s visitor numbers, who’s getting more cultural engagement?
G: That’s true. There’s just something about how much energy they’ve got. They had energy for me, when I didn’t. And like… not everything you have to listen / watch / play has to be the best thing ever. We’re not watching Lord of the Rings every day. There’s something to be said about watching something that you know is kind of bad. Radio will play music, that you will like some of, and presenters will come on between the songs and tell a bad joke or just… speak absolute shit, and I was so looking forward to hearing the actual shit and the boring things that people would call in about.
Z: Did you ever call in for a competition?
G: Oh my god I did, I did!
Z: This is bringing me so much joy.
G: OK, story time… They had something on the radio about- maybe I’m just mixing all the time up, of this year. Because I think this must have been a Valentine’s Day thing… but lockdown only started in March, so now I’m a bit confused. But just going to carry on with the story because I’m pretty sure I didn’t call up pre-lockdown. There was some kind of invitation, like if you’re a couple or you’re in a relationship and you’re looking to propose to your significant other, call us up, or text LOVE to 6-0-whatever… so I did, just for shits and giggles, and I think literally weeks later I got a call and I answer every call just to see what’s going on. I get this call and they’re like, hi it’s such-and-such from Capital, are you still looking to propose? And I said… yeah? And they said to me, would you like to… they said they had a few slots already taken up but there was one left that they were trying to fill.
Z: I’m crying with laughter.
G: It gets better.
Z: It’s just the way you’re telling me this, it’s so slow.
G: Would you like to go on a bungee jump in the millennium dome?
G: …and like on the way down, propose? And I was like, how long does it take to fall on a bungee jump? And this is so funny, like, if any listeners happen to know my…
Z: Did you do it then?
G: Of course I didn’t do it! First of all, I’m in Liverpool, secondly, Michael is like, so scared of heights that he shits himself on a ladder. This boy is six foot eight, it doesn’t make any sense.
Z: Oh god I’m crying.
G: On top of that, I remember… we went on, what’s a carousel called when it goes the other way? Not round and round, up and down? What are they called? Lockdown’s fried my brain I’ve got no vocabulary left. You like sit in a little carriage and it goes in a big circle but the circle is vertical… me and Michael were on one of them, and I’m a little daredevil, I love a bit of adrenaline. So when we got to the top, I started to rock the carriage, and he kicked off. I’ve never seen him look so angry with me. So how do they expect me to go bungee jumping with someone… nah, it just didn’t work. I just said I was busy. And then! Fast forward to June… I actually did propose to him in real life. Shall I tell the engagement story? That’s not the point of this podcast whatsoever…
Z: No, go on. It’s really sweet, I love it. It’ll give me a bit of time to calm down.
G: So me and Michael have been… we met ages ago. Me and Zarina started The White Pube and we had like 100 followers, or something. Maybe a few hundred…
G: I’m talking about Twitter as well, Twitter’s always been a bit of a smaller audience, which is good. We had a few followers, whatever, and one day we got an invitation to go to Nottingham to see some show in a skate park. It was the first time we’d ever been invited to somewhere else and we were like - gasp - we’ve made it.
Z: It was my first time leaving London!
G: That is mad to me. So we took this invitation, we had a really nice day, we met Connor Brazier who is a curator there, and all of his friends and loads of artists in Nottingham. The time came for us to get the train back to London, and it had been a good day. As Zarina says she had never been more North than Oxford, we were breaking new ground.
Z: It was a day of firsts! And we had a drink in the pub before, do you remember?
G: We had a little bevvy, it was a lovely day and we got on the train to go back to London, and we were supposed to change, and I was looking at the time and I was like - this train doesn’t even feel like it’s slowing down. Where’s the- what? What’s the change? We asked the train conductor and he was like, what? We weren’t going back to London, we were steaming North to- where did we go?
Z: We were heading towards a town 50 minutes outside Sheffield, called Worksop!
G: Worksop! So this lovely man saw that we’d shit ourselves, and he said, there’s no way you’re going to get back to London today, it was already too late. He said he would validate our trains to go to Sheffield. Then on the way to Sheffield, I called my Mum! I was like, Mum! I’ve made a mistake! At this point Zarina’s in Sheffield so think about that, it’s intense.
Z: I was spinning. Reeling, frankly! I’ve never been North of Oxford and I’m in Sheffield? God knows where I was! And I didn’t know how trains worked! This entire debacle was a mystery to me. You were sat there staring at the tickets and I was like, I wish I could help. Because I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t even really know how to get buses. Like, barely. Citymapper helps me out. I’m clueless.
G: I called my Mum from Sheffield and was like… I’m really sorry… is there any chance you could come and get us from Liverpool to Sheffield? And, miraculously, she said yes. Anyway we ended up in Liverpool for the weekend - more trauma for Zarina - and we tweeted our small audience and said, we’re accidentally in Liverpool for the weekend, has anyone got any advice on stuff that’s happening or stuff that we could go to? And someone called “Lorenzo Toilets” tweeted to say that they worked at the Bluecoat and there was a curator tour of the show which was called Left Hand To Back Of Right Knee or something, that was the name of the show, curated by Adam Smythe. We were like, yeah, fuck it, we’ve got nothing else to do. So we headed down to the Bluecoat and this boy, man, stood up from behind the desk and said hello, I’m Lorenzo Toilets. And we were like, oh my god. This was Michael and at that point I just started to stalk him because I was like, I fancy him. Fast forward four years. we’ve been in a relationship for a while, and I had always joked that I would propose to him because I was the one that pursued him in the very beginning. I was like, semi-stalking him. If you’ve ever been to the Bluecoat Gallery in Liverpool, you can kind of walk through it to get to other parts of town. So I would just go through it to see if he was on the desk.
Z: Would you just turn up?
G: No no, not turn up, just walk through it.
Z: Just drop by?
G: As a shortcut… I’ll walk through rather than around it. And you know, half the time he was there, and I’d be like - oh hello!
Z: I didn’t know this, that’s so funny.
G: Schmoozed him. I was the one that made it all happen, so I always said I would be the one to propose. And lockdown was shit - we were in lockdown apart because we were with our families and that was very difficult. We ended up being apart for 116 days so within those days, when I was going a bit mad, I thought, fuck it. Capital FM aren’t going to give me the proposal that I want so I will do it myself. I got in touch with a jeweller in Liverpool called Anthony Wong who has a studio at the Bluecoat and asked him if he could make me a ring for Michael, because he knows Michael. He said yes, and we guessed his ring size, and it was completely wrong. Because we were in lockdown together I said like, I want a creative way of proposing - I can’t go near him, so what could I do? And Anthony was like, leave it with me. He’s such an artist - he’s a jewellery designer but he’s such an artist. He ended up getting back to me and he was like, I’ve made a bamboo fishing rod, here you go. The ring was gorgeous, and it like, overlaps and the fishing rod had a red string that he’d put through copper hoops along the side. Then Michael came round for his birthday, or so he thought… and I gave him all his presents, then I gave him a really good present, I got him some headphones… and then an hour later, it was kind of funny, I was living with my Nan and she had carers coming four times a day, and once at night. So I was trying to time it between the carers' visits because I didn’t want them in the window, screaming, as an audience. I thought that would be so awkward! So I was like, checking the time, to make sure the carers weren’t there. And also, the night before, it was thunder and lightning, so I was like oh my god. This weather is just going to, but the sun came out, the carers weren’t there, and I said to him - do you want one more present? And he was shocked because he’d already had his headphones. And then I got the fishing rod and I said me little speech. I’d written something, and I’d completely forgot it. So I just said like the highlights, which, I can’t even remember what I said. It was like a full on blackout. Then I proposed, and he said yeah! It was lovely.
Z: That’s so lovely.
G: So now I’m fianceed up. I’ve got a fiancée.
Z: Yeah! You’re cuffed! He’s cuffed!
G: He’s cuffed.
Z: Cuffed together. He’s so cuffed. Such a lockdown happy story. The only good thing to come out of the pandemic, quite frankly.
G: Apparently loads of people are getting engaged. I didn’t realise this, like, it’s a bit of a joke on the internet about how many people are getting engaged. I’m like, ah, fuck you.
Z: Clearly though you’re the most important one.
G: Obviously. Anyway, that was a tangent.
Z: What were we talking about before?
G: I can’t remember.
Z: The bungee jumping! So you didn’t go bungee jumping in the end.
G: No, we did that instead.
Z: But you did call up.
G: Capital FM, yes.
Z: Have you ever called up before that or was that the only time?
G: Years and years ago my Mum won a Smooth Radio competition. I don’t know if you know about this. We’ve just got a lucky family, apparently. Got a relationship with the radio. Why am I on the arts? Why didn’t I just go into radio? It was some kind of pop culture question… my Mum sent them a text with the answer and she saw that someone was calling her on the way to work. She pulled over and answered it, she was live on the radio, and she said the right answer again.
Z: Stop it.
G: They gave her a trip on the QE2 to New York. It was all expenses paid, plus shopping money on the other side. And just to bring this back to some kind of relevance, she used some of the money that Smooth Radio had got her to buy me a camera! And then I started to take lots of pictures and got really into arts and creativity. So at the end of the day…
Z: You’re an art critic because of Smooth Radio! That is an origin story and a half, we’ve got to start putting that in lectures.
G: We should! And maybe like, our email footer as well.
Z: “I am here because of Smooth Radio. Thank you”
G: Smooth Radio and radio competitions, which apparently I love, so much.
Z: That’s two radio competitions that have played quite a monumental…
G: We’re going to have to change the name of the episode! You know what though, those are two funny examples… what I would really like to crack with radio is you know when they have those competitions? Someone is saying a sentence but every word is said by a different person and in order to win the competition, you have to name every single one of them, but as the months go on, because it is so difficult, eventually every few weeks one more name will be cracked and you have to make a note of what that is and then be the person who says them all at the end. I want to do that. I also wonder, just to get further into this, nowadays could you run that audio through any software to identify where the clips have come from? That’s a question. Like backwards deep fake radio competition software dot exe, dot dmg. You’d be so rich!
Z: If… this is… oh my god why is this so funny. I’m boiling hot because I’ve been laughing for five hours!
G: You’d be rich.
Z: You’d be so rich! It would make so much sense for you to be the person to crack that.
G: Yeah, cosmically. I’ve got to. I’ll try.
Z: I can just imagine this Rocky training montage of you picking up phones really quickly and listening to people’s voices.
G: Sitting amongst stacks of cash from all different currencies.
Z: Running up steps in slow-mo. I don’t know what you’d be doing that for but it’s important, right?
G: I’m going to be rich! I’m full of good ideas! Anyway, what culture have you been looking at?
Z: Nowhere near as good as- you’ve upstaged me! I’ve been watching Poldark!
G: What’s that?
Z: Well, thank goodness you asked. I’ve got a secret to reveal.
G: What is it?
Z: I love a period drama.
G: Oh my god…
Z: I know, don’t look at me, don’t look at me, I love a period drama.
G: When you said Pole Dark… that’s what you said isn’t it? How do you spell it?
G: Oh I was thinking like, pole dancing. And you were about to say something very different.
Z: Can you imagine!
G: What is it?
Z: Poldark! It’s about an 18th, 19th century gentleman in Cornwall, and his life as a mine owner.
G: Oh my god.
Z: He marries the scullery maid! It’s salacious! He’s a renegade, Gabrielle.
G: This is so funny. It really fits your personality.
Z: Does it?! I thought it would be surprising!
G: Zarina, yes! Because you’re the person who makes us read the plaques when we got to different parts of the country, and there’s a plaque about what it was like in the past, and you’re like - one sec, I’ve got to read this from top to bottom.
Z: I love local history. Do you know what, she took the piss out of me. When we went to Berwick, there’s like an old Elizabethan wall that was like, the wall.
G: What wall?
Z: It was an important wall. To defend against Scotland.
G: OK, you remember because you read it, I didn’t read the plaque.
Z: I thought that was so cool, that this cannon had been here since Elizabethan times, and Gab was like, “we’re late.” Like, no. You took the absolute piss out of me but I love local history.
G: Have you watched any other period dramas? Or is it just Poldark.
Z: Right! So, currently in the midst of Poldark, watching it now. I did a Pride and Prejudice rewatch…
G: The BBC one?
Z: Colin Firth… the Keira Knightley one isn’t as good.
G: It’s weird isn’t it? The original is the original.
Z: Ten out of ten.
G: It’s very good, it’s very romantic.
Z: It is! Do you know what, I’ve got-
G: Sorry, I’m going to have to interrupt you. This also fits in with your personality because you don’t like it when boys say nice things.
G: She’s taken her headphones off and left.
Z: I can’t believe you would bring that up! It makes sense!
G: It makes sense.
Z: It’s so bad.
G: You don’t like it when someone is very forthcoming. When they say, I like you, you’re cool and nice… you go like, urgh!
Z: Urgh! I want someone sexually repressed, but not so sexually repressed… I want a prude!
I don’t mean any of that. I won’t put this in. You forget, I’m editing this episode.
G: I’ll edit this one! It won’t make sense.
Z: I don’t want a prude, but I’m quite a reserved person. I like that little tease of like, oh, does he like me? You can’t just put it all out on a plate and be like, I like you. Because then, that’s… I’ve got a Sagittarius rising Gab, I like the chase.
G: Does this mean then that you’re going to have to date someone who does a history degree?
Z: God forbid.
G: I don’t imagine they’re like, getting down.
Z: What do you mean?
G: I don’t know. I don’t know anyone who does history, sorry.
Z: Edit this bit out! The readers can’t know I date. What will they think of me.
G: This is also part of the problem…
Z: I love having a private life. I love having a private life, I love being secretive, reserved, and aloof! This makes so much sense - I’m a Victorian Gentleman. I am I’m dapper! I’m DAPPER AF!
G: Oh my god. What are you going to do about it?
Z: I’m going to lean into it. I’m going to start wearing tweed collars… Scarlet! Fetch the bedpan! That’s me from now on.
G: Yeah. How will you find someone?
Z: I’ll go to the ball!
G: You’re going to have to go to a dance!
Z: I’m going to the ball!
G: You’ll have to take a turn around the room with someone.
Z: Oh my god… yeah. I’ve got to learn how to do the stupid country dances where they’re like… you can’t see me, I’m jostling.
G: Is it a square dance?
Z: A canter? What’s it called. I should know.
G: You should know it!
Z: I thought this was a surprising fact about myself, that I could reveal, and it’d be like a surprising and fun fact.
G: It is and it isn’t. It just makes sense.
Z: I hate that for me.
G: That’s so funny. I’m like the pop cultural Esther Perel.
Z: You are.
G: I understand what people do and don’t like.
Z: That’s actually the best description of you because I think you understand such a broad spectrum of pop culture, in the best way, and you understand how it fits into someone’s personality landscape.
G: Ooh I love that! I sounded just then like when you do an impression of a scouse accent.
Z: Shall I do it now? Because you do quite a good impression of me as well. What should I say?
G: Go on. Say that you’re a victorian gentleman.
Z: I’m a vichhtoryen… no!
G: That was Birmingham ish.
Z: What is it that you say very often? There’s something you say loads, what is it…
G: You’ve got to say the victorian one now.
Z: I’m a vichhtory-en jennelmen…
G: That wasn’t as good.
Z: First time lucky. I feel like I do my impression of you when I’m not around you, which is worse than doing it in front of you.
G: You shouldn’t let me know that!
Z: I know. I tell you every time I do it. Go on, do your impression of me. A few weeks ago, Gab did an impression of me and then I was like, I don’t sound like that! And you said all Southerners sound the same to me.
G: I think all Southerners sound posh… it’s really hard to differentiate class when you’re Southern. Which, yeah, make of that what you will. Anyway, moving on…
Z: BLEEP! Hello, it’s me, I’m just in the middle of editing, nearly done, and I’m interrupting to let you know that this episode of the White Pube podcast is actually sponsored. Yeah, you heard that right, we’ve got a muh-fuckin' sponsor. So the sponsor for this episode is Creative Debuts. As you know, we have an existing relationship with them, they do the Writers Grant with us, very very big fans of Creative Debuts and what they do. But in case you don’t know, Creative Debuts is a disrupting and democratizing art platform that champions emerging artists through an artwork subscription service, bespoke projects and event management, acting as a bridge between the creative and commercial worlds, Creative Debuts is focused on shining a light and supporting artists and designers from under represented communities that may otherwise go under the radar. They are a free platform and they provide artists with the opportunity to showcase and sell their work as well as giving buyers, whether they are individuals or businesses, the chance to unearth the superstars of tomorrow. They have recently collaborated with the likes of Adidas, Disney, Apple, Ebay and Spotify. If you want to pre them, have a little peep on www.creativedebuts.co.uk or @creativedebuts on instagram and twitter. And that’s all from me, OK! Enough of the ads, back to the fuckin' podcast shit! Byeee! BLEEEP!
G: What have you been reading, because I know you’ve read books.
Z: Right. I’ve got a stack of them over there. I’m going to go through what I have enjoyed. Actually, no! I wrote this down! Hold on. You squirmed out of doing your impression of me, please do it now while I find the page.
G: No. I read one book over lockdown. Only one book, in two bath sittings. It was Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, which I know you’ve read as well because Michael lent it to both of us. It’s really good.
Z: I’ve still got a copy of The Sellout by Paul Beatty of his… it’s staring at me, I need to post it. But I also read Kitchen. Those were very good! He’s very good at making recommendations.
G: Can I just read the summary of the book, because I think it’s a really, really good recommendation for people. So this is what Good Reads said. “Banana Yoshimoto’s novels have made her a sensation in Japan, and all over the world. Kitchen, the dazzling English-language debut that is still her best-loved book, is an enchantingly original and deeply affecting book about mothers, love, tragedy, and the power of the kitchen and home in the lives of a pair of free-spirited young women in contemporary Japan. Mikage, the heroine of kitchen, is an orphan raised by her Grandmother who has passed away. Grieving, she is taken in by her friend Yuichi and his mother, who was once his father, Eriko. As the three of them form an improvised family that soon weathers its own tragic losses, Yoshimoto spins a lovely, evocative tale that recalls early Marguerite Duras.” It’s so lovely, it’s really small, it’s not an intimidating book to read. If you just want to go into a completely different world for a bit, I would recommend. So what have you read then?
Z: I read Kitchen, and I read The Sellout. That was really good, I really enjoyed The Sellout, I think because it has got such a specific… I don’t even know what the word for it would be. It’s got such a specific way of organising itself in terms of speech patterns and like, the way it deploys humour. I don’t think I was on board with the full-on politic of it, I don’t think that was for me to be on board with. But I think I enjoyed the pace and the rhythm and the syntax of it, I really liked that. I don’t know how to describe it - shall I read out the back of the book?
G: Yeah, read it out. I also… I read the first few chapters and then didn’t read anything for like, two years. Not because of that book, I just lost the capacity to read.
Z: Okay, so. This says it is “a biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing, and the race trial that sends him to the supreme court. Born in Dickens on the Southern outskirts of Los Angeles, the narrator of The Sellout spent his childhood as the subject in his father’s racially-charged psychological studies. He is told that his father’s work will lead to a memoir that will solve their financial woes. But when his father is killed in a drive-by shooting he discovers there was never a memoir - all that’s left is a bill for a drive-thru funeral. What’s more, Dickens has literally been wiped off the map to save California from further embarrassment. Fuelled by despair, the narrator sets out to right this wrong with the most outrageous action conceivable - reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the supreme court.” It’s kind of like, this absurdist farce. I feel like reading this was, at the time, quite timely. It feels like a timely book to read because it touches on weird gentrification, the politics of urban settlement, let’s put it that way. The racialised politic of urban settlement.
G: Very clever!
Z: I know! I thought it was quite good, I liked it, it tickled me in parts I was not used to having my brain tickled. I hadn’t read last year that much and those two were like, a nice re-entry into being a person that reads.
G: Well done, well done for that.
Z: Thank you. I’ve read some others that I was iffy on, because… I say iffy, I started reading Roxanne Gay–
G: Right, I know this is going to be a really bad question, but who is she? I see her name on the internet and I see people get really angry about her but I don’t know who she is.
Z: I don’t really know either! She wrote Difficult Women. I think she’s just an American writer and white liberal women love her.
G: I thought she was British, so that’s new to me.
Z: I think she’s American. But I read Difficult Women and I didn’t finish it because I didn’t like it.
G: You win some, you lose some.
Z: I really didn’t like the way that she wrote. That sounds like such a superficial thing to say, but I just- do you find this, as a writer, that you get really stuck on the way people write things?
G: Yeah, 100%! That is why I don’t read stuff! It just kills me.
Z: I feel better about that now. I’ve started at least three books that I’ve not been able to finish.
G: Do you know what, I don’t think anyone should ever feel guilty about that. About any culture, in any form. There’s just some stuff that you’re not going to like because of these superficial reasons, the way it sounds… there’s a lot of music that Michael loves, and I can kind of see why he likes it, but the sound of the person’s voice will drive me mad. I’m talking specifically about the Dirty Projectors. He will hear this because he’s going to transcribe it. I don’t like the way the person’s voice sounds! Similarly, some YouTubers, the way they edit things, or the way certain artists put things together, I’m just like, it’s not for me, and that’s fine.
Z: I love turning a film off half way through. There’s no greater power than that. But for some reason, not finishing a book feels rude to me. I don’t feel that way about anything else.
G: It’s not rude, it’s fine. It’s just-
Z: I feel uncultured, like swine!
G: You’re literally a critic, you can’t be uncultured, it’s probably impossible. There’s some things, it’s just never going to vibe, and that’s fine. It’s just not going to click.
Z: Yeah OK, I feel better about it now. I didn’t finish reading that by Roxanne Gay. I don’t know if I’m on board with her, I don’t get it. But then again, it’s not for me so fine. Didn’t finish reading Pond by Claire Louise Bennett, which was a book of short stories. Quite bad.
G: It is what it is!
G: Someone would probably give it a 10.
Z: And that’s fine! If that’s your bag that’s fine. I just think it was a bit- I don’t know if I like any Fitzcarraldo editions. They’ve just done a really nice basic template for covers.
G: That you’re fooled by?
Z: Yep! Also, the first Fitzcarraldo one I bought, I got sucked in by the cover, and it was Daisy Hildyard’s The Second Body. That was the best thing I’ve read in my entire life. I loved it, I’ve never liked a book so much.
G: Why did you love it?
Z: Oh god, I don’t know. I feel like, it writes in this space between fiction and non-fiction, in this way that you can’t quite tell. I read another one of her books over lockdown called Hunters In The Snow, that is in a similar way, so I think it’s completely on purpose and engineered. It’s this wonderful friction between the two things, I really enjoyed that. The Second Body is about the idea that humans, as a kind of animal, have two different bodies. One of them is this human body that is affected by modernist thinking, it’s this single, inviolable, individual, like… it’s governed by rational laws and it’s predictable in the sense that humans are predictable. And then humans have a second body which is an animal body, this chaotic, natural body that’s not really material, it’s also affect, but it’s- climate change, stuff like that. It’s both an animal, abject self and then also an immaterial, climatological self. I’m explaining it really badly, but it’s really good.
G: I trust you. I’ll never read it. I’m sitting here thinking like, besides Capital FM, what did I actually do over lockdown, with culture? I don’t have the type of brain that people like DJs do or film buffs, who can remember the names of every director or every song and artist… I don’t have that. Most of the time I’ll do something and it’ll just go out the other end, it’ll pass through. It was like drive-thru culture and then it’s gone. I can’t remember what I did. I think I watched a lot of YouTube.
Z: Oh, let’s talk about who we’ve been watching on YouTube. Because I love this, you’ve got some great YouTube recommendations, mate.
G: Right, so. I love YouTube. It’s just the fastest, best way and the algorithm is pretty reliable on it, even though it’s got such an agenda to just keep you there and keep you watching things. Videos that are over ten minutes get pushed to the front of the queue. I feel like the types of videos I’m watching are getting longer and longer. At the moment, my favourite YouTuber is someone called Rambalac, so this stranger records videos with a Steadicam on walks around Japan. Like, 58-minute videos, hour-and-a-half, two hours, he just walks.
Z: This makes so much sense.
G: They will be like, walking to and from a train station, or walking around some markets, and honestly it is fulfilling the want of travel. What I enjoy when I go anywhere is going off the beaten track a little bit, just going for a walk all day until your legs hurt, but you’ve seen loads of stuff and stopped off at random places for food that you don’t recognise, and then you try and find your way home with your phone running out, and you’ve got fun pictures… I love that. He’s doing that and he’s filming it! He’s filming just that moment, he’s not filming the insides of anywhere or the big events or big moments. It’s just all the moments in between of walking to and from places. He’s just on his own, it’s pretty silent except the background noise of streets and sometimes it’s really fun, he stops off at a vending machine and gets a little drink. I love that. I feel so… it’s one of those things, I don’t just watch it on its own. I’ll be doing something like answering emails or doing whatever work we need to do. It’s really good at the moment actually to watch them while I’m editing these podcasts because I don’t need sound and it’s nice to look up from the laptop for a minute and just watch someone in a fun place and then get back to work. I really like his videos. I don’t know who he is though. That’s part of it, the mystery. You never see his reflection in stuff. I think he’s quite careful.
Z: Oh my god yeah, so that you can project.
G: I tried googling him to figure out who it was, but I don’t want to know. It’s fine.
Z: I think that would ruin it. This makes so much sense.
G: I’m pretty sure he’s not British. I’m pretty sure he’s not Japanese… I think he’s from somewhere in Europe. That’s the vibe… I don’t know. He’s my number one recommendation.
Z: That makes a lot of sense with you as a person. Not in like a Gabrielle pop-culture Esther Perel way… in like, I can see how YouTube has got there from your algorithms.
G: Oh yeah, because this is the next drug after all of the claw machine videos that I watched. There’s a couple from South Korea and they just visit different places in Japan, Korea and China and just do claw machines. And the videos are like, 10, 20 minutes long. I love them so much. It makes sense - YouTube knows I’ll just watch anything.
Z: I feel like that kind of content, it’s not really a genre but like, calming, low stakes, uneventful, long videos.
G: Slow TV, it’s called Slow TV.
Z: That’s it. I love that. I cannot sleep without that. I’ll put my laptop on my windowsill and just have it playing. I can’t really see it or hear it but I know it’s there.
G: Ahhh. That’s lovely.
Z: Isn’t that lonely? That’s so sad.
G: I mean, you’ve not found your Victorian wife yet, so….
Z: I’ve not found a gentleman to take me on a turn about the grounds. So I need to watch slow TV. I’ve got a slow TV one and it’s really weird and obscure…
G: Go on.
Z: So there is a community on YouTube known as the planner community.
G: The what?
G: Oh, I know where this is going.
Z: There are different camps, so there’s like, the bullet journals, some of them have this fancy Japanese traveller’s notebook, but then some of them, the Americans, have a Kikki K planner, or one of those ring-bound planners. And they have got the best fucking stickers… because that’s how they organise their day. It’s this mix between planning and scrap-booking, and they buy these expensive fucking sticker sheet sets where they stick it on and they’ve just got like, they’ll have the planner, and it’ll be a one week spread across two pages. And they have a box and you put the box down, and then the little header for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday… you put stickers on the page to make a planner, and you decorate the planner. And you have little stickers for like, oh, I had coffee today. Why would you need a sticker for that! Three stickers a day, please! It’s a really nice balance between complete mundanity, like, so boring…bored out of your mind boring slow…and like, stickers.
G: I’m really interested in that part of content creation where vloggers became a thing, and would vlog some of their really interesting lives, and then some vloggers would essentially run out of the interesting things, and would vlog about vlogging. They’d say, I don’t really know what to make videos about, but I’m going to make them anyway. And then their content becomes really similar, or they get up and do their morning routine and then edit last week’s video and then finish today’s and that’s it… It’s such a strange, it folds back in on itself a bit. My question to you, as someone who is a voyeur of the planner community, is - do these planner people run out of things to plan, because planning is all they do?
Z: It’s really interesting that you say that because my favourite woman, Elle Fowler, is it Elle? Or her sister? Do you remember-
G: Do I remember! I don’t follow the planner community.
Z: No, but there were two sisters - Blair and Elle Fowler - and they were like, early beauty vloggers. They bought every single Mac eyeshadow, they’re American. Shane Dawson did a video with Blair Fowler, I think it was. They were early Youtube - they’ve been around for a long time. They were the first influencers to kind of do product placement, or do brand deals. They got lambasted for it a bit. I love that, lambasted. But I don’t know where Blair Fowler’s gone, and Elle Fowler now runs one of these planner sticker shops. She has like a whole team of graphic designers and illustrators and people who print these things off and package them. She’s a business mogul from selling planner stickers.
G: But even if she is a planner mogul, does she still plan things?
G: What does she plan?
Z: Gab, it’s so weird. She has multiple planners, it’s insane. It’s actually insane. One of her planners is a show planner, so that she can show you the sticker sets that she’s got in. Like, oh, this is a new set of glitzy blue, fuckin', Hawaiian themed… she’ll plan it out, she’ll plan a fake week.
G: How many stickers have you ordered?
Z: I’m not invested in this. I don’t want to be a member of the planner community because I think they’re crazy.
G: It sounds like a cult.
Z: Right? It sounds not normal.
G: Because right, cults start by like - look at this way of life, this will really help you. And you’re thinking, oh maybe this would really help me, I want to be a part of this. Then they start getting all your money, and your time, and your sense of identity. Cult.
Z: All of a sudden you’re a sticker saleswoman, a representative for the planner community, and you’re an ambassador…
G: You’re an affiliate of Blair Fowler.
Z: Elle Fowler, she’s the older one.
G: Elle Fowler!
Z: She’s got a show planner, and then she’s got like, a nice keepsake planner where she’ll put pictures. It’s more than a scrapbook, it’s a record of her life that she’s made nice, so it’s like journaling but without the words. You use stickers as little symbols. Like I got married this day, I got engaged on Tuesday, so I bought the engagement set, and it’s got a little ring sticker.
Z: Not ahh! That’s deranged!
G: So expensive.
Z: Can you imagine! You have to buy- even if you don’t want anyone else’s stickers, you want to make your own. You have to buy a sticker printer!
G: Sticker printer sounds like a fun thing to own, not gonna lie.
Z: Yeah, maybe we should buy a sticker printer.
Z: No, no. No, not getting involved.
G: Shall we do like a quick-fire round before we close off of things that could see you through lockdown? Let’s just fast bounce between them. You go first.
Z: Okay… The 1975.
G: Dua Lipa’s new album.
Z: Wuthering Heights!
G: Erm… one sec, let me think. Sailing La Vagabonde, on YouTube.
Z: Sailor Moon.
Z: Oh that’s a good one. Tap Tap Fish.
G: Call of Duty.
Z: Is this pop culture only?
G: No, just what saw you through.
Z: Mashed potato!
Z: I love a bit of mash.
G: Ooh - Jus-rol pain au chocolat that you can make yourself. Do you know the ones I mean?
Z: Yeah, because they’re vegan!
G: Ooh! Yeah. Love them. I’ve eaten a lot of them.
Z: Oh my God, I’m sweating. Yoga with Adriene.
G: Couch to 5k.
Z: This is unfair, because you’re just saying your equivalent of the ones I’m saying.
G: I know.
Z: Is this why you made me go first? Hold on, oh my god, I don’t know. I’ve run out. Give me a genre.
G: I’ll go next - Coronamas. Which was - at the very beginning, me and my cousins did a Secret Santa in April to buy each other some presents to cheer each other up.
Z: What did you get?
G: I got some scrunchies and a yoga mat and a holographic make-up case that I still use to this day. And I gave a game, a download code for a game. We had a £20 limit and it was just nice. We should do it again, I think.
Z: You should. There were two rounds of self-employed income support so you should have two rounds of Coronamas.
G: That’s so depressing.
Z: My one is waterproof shower speakers.
G: Ooh! Very good.
Z: Hour long showers. Podcast.
Z: I know.
G: Laptop stand.
G: It’s not like, a good thing, but hear me out. I’ve typed so much this year, that the pain in my hand hurts so much. Recently I got a wireless keyboard, wireless mouse, laptop stand and some compression things for my wrist. All of it has changed, it has fixed me. It’s really good. If I’d have known how long this was going to last for I would have known to just make sure I had a good working from home set up. Lockdown 2 though, I’m sorted now.
Z: It’s never too late, at least you know now. We’re in this for the long haul I think.
G: I know.
Z: My one is, oh it’s just disappeared, what was it? Tumblr. That was it. That’s not my equivalent of a laptop stand at all. Yeah, Tumblr, loved it.
G: Discord. Love Discord at the moment. Hate twitter and Instagram… I don’t hate them. Basically I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix which is like a one hour documentary about how these things are just rotting our brains and changing the fabric of reality for every individual because we primarily live virtually rather than face to face. That’s like more true than ever in lockdown, especially for the younger generations. So like, just to be careful of that. If you Google “climate change is” in different countries, it shows different suggestions for autofill. So that makes me stressed. It’s like, on the documentary it really showed that Wikipedia - although when we were in school, we were told never to look at Wikipedia, because anyone can write on it and it might not be real - it just proved that it is actually the least biased thing on the internet because it is so well-moderated. So yeah, this maybe, lockdown has killed social media for me and I’m preferring to withdraw a little bit and places like Discord seem to be nicer and more- you can form a community around something that you want to form a community around, and then chat about it. It’s a different pace. There’s no adverts, no scrolling, it’s just better. It reminds me of old times on the internet.
Z: I was saying, because I’m on Discord as well, I was saying to Gab the other week it feels like MSN. Old school internet rather than new internet.
G: So much better.
Z: I have one left.
G: Go on!
Z: It’s about my slippers.
G: Oh god, are you going to show me your slippers again? This is an audio medium and nobody can see them.
Z: I’m going to describe them. I just want to give a shout out to Etsy because I’ve been ordering things off Etsy, even though they’re ridiculous. I as a person have very cold hands and feet. Bad circulation.
G: You do.
Z: It’s just awful. I can’t really walk around the house with just socks on. Fluffy as they may be, my feet will freeze and I will be deeply uncomfortable. If there is anything off with my body I won’t write, because I will use any excuse to faff about and put it off and be like oh well, I can’t write, my wrists hurt and I will have to sort that out first. So I’ve got to make sure that I am at the peak of comfort - but not too comfortable, I have to strike a balance. So I can’t wear my big fluffy pink home slippers because then I’ll be too comfortable, I’ll think it’s time to relax. So I’ve bought a separate fancy pair of work slippers for during the day. Then I’ll go to the gym or go out for a run, come back and change into my night time at home slippers.
G: OK. So you’re currently wearing your working slippers, because we’re on a podcast? I get you.
Z: They are suedette, they are a camelly, beigey brown, and they’re little moccasins! And they don’t have a little rubber sole so when I run about the house, I make a little…can you hear that? I make a sweet tapping sound like a beautiful cat. I’m obsessed with them. They’ve got a woolly sheepskin wool lining, I feel so fancy. £20 well spent.
G: On that note - thank you for listening to this week’s weird episode of The White Pube podcast.
Z: This was so chaotic.
G: We’re still finding our feet, it’s fine! Chaos is fun. I was speaking to someone recently about how a lot of podcasts feel a bit awkward because the people don’t get on and they’re just doing it for a job - I don’t think that’s the case here.
Z: I think, arguably, we might be over familiar. We might have the opposite of that problem. People might be listening like, why are they creasing at the idea of Gabrielle bungee jumping? That sounds incredibly normal.
G: It was funny. But yeah, I feel like that’s not a problem here. I feel like people enjoy the episodes. We’ve got many more planned, including a funding episode, and some other things that I can’t remember right now!
Z: We’re going to show you our art.
G: We’re going to show you our art that we made in the past! That’ll be a good episode. That’ll be the next one we record. If you want to follow The White Pube we are just @thewhitepube on the internet, all of our reviews and essays are on thewhitepube.com and we are amazingly, reader supported via Patreon. So thank you to all out patrons if you’re listening - we love you, we really don’t take any of you for granted, you’ve changed our lives. I’ve moved out because of Patreon and we’re really happy so thank you very much. Have a good day wherever you are and thank you for listening.
Z: Play the outro!