Month notes: September 2023

Glasgow retreat, new ink, cranking my Playdate.

I’d been flirting with starting a blog throughout September, so I wrote some notes in a Google doc. For practice (and to not waste those notes) here’s a retrospective roundup of my September. 

A black ink tattoo on a forearm. It is a disjointed circle shape with thicker splodges and fronds of ink in places
Fresh ink
  • I turned 47.
  • We had a holiday in the funky cottage we like, with the hot tub and views over Pendle hill.
  • I got Covid and it wiped me out for over a week.
  • I got a tattoo – my third now. This one’s a logogram from the film Arrival, specifically the Heptapod symbol for “non-linear time”. That’s now forever on my forearm and has SDAM/aphantasia and mindfulness-related meaning for me (and is better than getting remember Sammy Jankis or find him and kill him from Memento). 
  • I went to Glasgow on a BFI Exec team retreat, for a spot of regrouping and planning having been heads-down for a while with tricky internal change. We did good group work about improving how we lead and delegate – and came away, as tends to happen at such things, with a chunky list of further group work. 
  • I’d been to Glasgow once before with GDS (on Kevin Cunnington’s daft tour of the regions, brilliantly pilloried by Simon Wilson’s stickers) but saw little of the city then. This time I got to visit the Glasgow Science Centre, which is rammed with fun things I want to go back and play with. I got to meet some lovely stakeholders from Scottish film bodies. I went to the very beautiful art deco Glasgow Film Theatre where I saw the utterly wonderful Past Lives. I drank an Irn Bru (Zero) and ate a (vegan) haggis. It rained. 
  • I toured a couple of sixth forms with my elder son. He’s happy in his current school but they don’t offer Computer Science A-Level so we’ll have to switch. 
  • My cleaner said my house is “like a show home” and she’s amazed how tidy I keep it. I feel seen – by a professional! Kept me smiling for days, this. 
  • Sarah Winters asked me to draft a foreword for a revised edition of her/CDL’s Content Design book. What an honour! I of course said yes, so now I need to recall some anecdotes or wisdom from our time together in GDS (my brain’s stored a few facts but it’s like I wasn’t even there). 
  • My excitement is building for the London Film Festival – my second as an insider. 
  • Joel had his final surgery to remove the 2 metal plates and 11 screws in his arm from a nasty break back in the spring. It’s dominated our year, and been awful for him. The NHS is amazing.


Brian. Love this sympathetic study of an anxious, solitary man finding happiness and friendship in the embrace of BFI Southbank. BFI had nothing to do with this book existing – it’s coincidentally ever so validating and heartwarming about the work we do. 

Do Interesting. A lot of inspiration in a small package, every bit as good as Russell’s previous book. (Note to self: must get back to Russell about a coffee at the Delaunay!)

This speculation on MUBI’s finances. I really like MUBI. We’re fishing in the same subscriber pond with BFI Player but have complementary propositions and we dream the same dream.  


In cinemas

Past Lives (beautiful), Theater Camp (so good!), The Creator (wasn’t for me but I’m not mad at it), a preview of The Lesson at BAFTA cos my friend Cass co-produced it (I especially enjoyed seeing Richard E Grant play drunk, which he’s so weirdly good at).

On BFI Player

Holiday, Kokomo City, Pressure (seminal, landmark work by the late Horace Ové – see the new trailer here). 

On other streamers

Another Round (I adored this), Can You Ever Forgive Me (more Richard E Grant acting drunk).

For the kids’ film studies

Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Jerry Mcguire, Con Air and Grosse Pointe Blank.

Rewatching Jerry Mcguire just before my Exec retreat made me want to write my own career-limiting mission statement – “The Things We Think But Do Not Say”. Who’s with me? Show me the service design! You had me at agile, etc.

In prep for LFF

I filled some gaps in my knowledge of films by directors headlining the festival this year: Downsizing, Carol, The Lobster. Also rewatched Dogtooth to show it to Dylan, who’s coming with me to the Poor Things gala on his 16th birthday. His review: “what did I just watch?”


Binged Hijack on Apple TV+ (old school action fun with Idris), started Dreaming Whilst Black on BBC (v good dramedy with v good message), finished The Sixth Commandment (creepy con man thing) and the finale of Project Runway All Stars (one day you’re in, the next day you’re out). Also working through Extras, Look Around You and Black Books with the kids.


Video games

A Playdate handheld gaming thing. It's small, yellow and it has a crank
A Playdate

Pikmin 4 on the Nintendo Switch. Love this game so much – its concept of dandori resonates with me. Literally playing to my strengths!

FF7 Remake on PS4 – paused this for Pikmin but keen to get back to it.

Cranking my Playdate. I ordered this curious gizmo nearly a year ago when I saw it in Pushing Buttons, and it’s finally arrived. It’s weird and wonderful, with a developer community making quirky mini-game titles akin to the creative heyday of the ZX Spectrum. Plus an initial Season of curated games gets pushed to the device weekly. And IT’S GOT A CRANK. The product marketing is divine. 

Board games

Currently loving Azul. Had it on my shelf for a long time and initially found it hard to grasp the rules. But now I’ve got it to the table, it’s actually simple to grasp and deep to master – not to mention beatiful, tactile and addictive.


The Mercury award sent me down a Young Fathers, Ezra Collective and Jockstrap deep dive. I’m done with that now, back to my usual high rotation of electronic stuff. Of all the great tracks on the Mercury shortlisted albums, Jockstrap’s Concrete Over Water is the keeper – sends shivers through me.


Dancing in the Street without sound


“Discourse bait” 


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