5 min read

37. Delays

History bending, design work in discovery, coaching and capability
37. Delays
Photo by Erik Mclean / Unsplash

Here in the North East of England, the local metro has a quirky phrase when there are delays "train delays, Metro apologises" (which even spawned a parody Twitter account in the 2010s). It has felt like a month of delays, with a lot of travel leading to delays and just the slow trudge of January that is finally at an end.

That said, looking through my notes of the month as much as it felt like a slog I actually got a lot done! I got to attend two unconferences (UKEduCamp in Edinburgh and UKGovCamp in London, a mere week after each other, which was possibly a bit much), wrote a few blog posts and made a few diagrams, and even got to do a bit of sightseeing in London around Govcamp. I went to the Royal Court's Cowbois, The Design Museum and also Abba Voyage.

A woman with pink brown hair, fair skin with freckles and dark eyes smiles in front of a wall that say 'Designer'
At the Design Museum - I always try to recreate this picture every few years


  • Last month I mentioned getting  Dynamics in Document Design  and this month I finished it. The book has an excellent timeline of document design, relating it to both to how business writing evolved as a profession against industry and other achievements. It's also worth a look in its discussions of designing information posters and other printed material: I liked the idea of asking people in a session who they thought the author of a particular material was and what the message was that they were intending to get across.
  • I listened to Sahil Lavingia’s The Minimalist Entrepreneur: How Great Founders Do More With LessLavingia founded the creator platform Gumroad (which back in the days before I had a credit card always used get my Visa Debit card flagged for potential fraud, but I won’t hold that against Lavingia) and reflects on trying to be a unicorn, failing, and then realising that actually a profitable business was… enough. It’s a quick and easy listen and is probably a good companion piece with Scott Belky’s The Messy Middle (about his experiences with portfolio platform Behance).
  • I'm continuing to read books about histories. Janina Raminez’s Femina which looks to bring out lost female voices in medieval history — interestingly thanks to other reading on history I already knew about Marjery Kempe of Kings Lynn (then Bishop’s Lynn) and vaguely knew of the Cathars (though not from The Da Vinci Code, but, of all things, the early 2010s Walt Stillman film Damsels in Distress) but others such as various queens and nuns were new to me. It shows that women in the past were often more recognisable to us than we might think in their views and even their support from men, but also that religion was often one of the few means for women to have an education rather than be married off. It also talks about ‘overwritten’ women whose stories become filtered through others (for example the women who made and may have even authorised the making of the Bayeaux tapestry). I also finished Martin Puchner's Culture which uses examples from Egypt to George Elliot to show how key people often carefully took from and reinterpreted past cultures to inform the present.

This month in digital government and design


  • because I am old, I have only just discovered the treadmill strut trend. I tried out the Taylor Swift treadmill strut playlist and to be honest found it a bit slow. I may need to do what others have done and amend the format to add inclines or do a longer workout. Still, it helped me get over a long time fear of treadmills (I tend to use ellipticals) so in that respect it's been great.
  • my friend suggested I go to the cinema to see the Argentinian Trenque Lauquen Part 1 and 2. It’s indie filmmaking at its best: unpretentious and ingenious, with a second part that goes in a completely different direction to the first. I was reminded of William Gibson’s quote “the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed” since for every person using a smartphone there is 90s library card systems, 80s lack of seatbelts and actual gauchos.
  • I’ve been binge watching the Vanity Fair videos with actors reflecting on their career or reflection on key scenes from their career.
  • And the most wholesome meme of recent times has to be the University Challenge ‘we need jungle, I’m afraid’.