The Public Information Films That Scared Seventies Children for Life

“Public information films – or PIFs to the aficionado – still exist today. We have seen them recently with regards to Covid; government advice on washing our hands, wearing masks and being careful of hugging our friends.

But next to the PIFs of the heyday of the genre, these touchy-feely, nicey-nicey televised messages are like comparing the Teletubbies with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”



Source: The Independent
Published: Aug 27, 2021
Length: 13 minutes (3,424 words)

‘I Took Part in the Psilocybin Trial and It Changed My Life’

“I had seen an alternative reality, another way of being, and knew beyond anything I’d known before that day that life is extraordinary. And in that moment I felt happier, more alive, and more Me than I imagined was possible.”

Source: The Independent
Published: May 31, 2021
Length: 22 minutes (5,663 words)

‘What Do They Do For Us?’: Why I Love Wasps and You Should Too

“But, given the importance of natural pollinators to our food security and the apparent declines of well-recognised pollinators like bees and hover flies, now would be a good time to start taking wasp pollination a bit more seriously.”


Source: The Independent
Published: May 15, 2021
Length: 13 minutes (3,378 words)

Why Did We Go Bald? The Love and Loss of Human Hair

“Hairlessness, to put it baldly, was sexy. And a relatively hairless partner would be more likely to produce a less hairy younger generation. Soon the hair was dropping off us at a rate of knots.”

Source: The Independent
Published: Apr 6, 2021
Length: 17 minutes (4,336 words)

Remote Working: What the UK’s Last Lighthouse Keepers Can Teach Us About Isolation

“As the former keeper of one of the UK’s most remote lighthouses, his work has been a unique training ground for lockdown. Only with more elemental havoc.”

Source: The Independent
Published: Feb 23, 2021
Length: 9 minutes (2,437 words)

The Birdman of the Tower of London and the Missing Ravens

“It’s a very small world, he says, raven-keeping, “and being quirky is part and parcel of it, because it’s so full on”.”

Source: The Independent
Published: Jan 21, 2021
Length: 19 minutes (4,982 words)

‘Talk About First World Problems’: What Would the Pandemic Have Been Like in 2005?

How would he have handled a pandemic? It’s hard to imagine him getting involved in the sort of denialism, laced with conspiracy theory and a dash of anti-Chinese racism, that the Trump administration has fostered.”

Source: The Independent
Published: Dec 20, 2020
Length: 11 minutes (2,900 words)

Michele Kirsch: My Life As a Cleaner in London

Michele Kirsch on working as a cleaner in London, England, and the fascinating, unspoken social rules that keep a cleaner-cleanee relationship “shipshape and Bristol-fashion.”

Source: The Independent
Published: Oct 25, 2015
Length: 9 minutes (2,481 words)

How Noma Took Tokyo

The Copenhagen-based restaurant Noma is regularly rated as the world’s best; Tokyo is the gourmet capital of the world, with more Michelin stars than any other city. For five overwhelming and intense weeks, Noma came to Tokyo, with a waiting list of 60,000 diners. But could a restaurant renowned for its “local” focus succeed in a foreign city?

Source: The Independent
Published: Feb 15, 2015
Length: 8 minutes (2,035 words)

My Elf Self

Sedaris recalls his time working as a Macy’s elf during the holiday season:

“Today was the official opening day of SantaLand and I worked as a Magic Window Elf, a Santa Elf and an Usher Elf. The Magic Window is located in the adult ‘Quick Peep’ queue. My job was to say, ‘Step on the Magic Star and look through the window, and you can see Santa!’ I was at the Magic Window for 15 minutes before a man approached me and said, ‘You look so fucking stupid.’

“I have to admit that he had a point. But still, I wanted to say that at least I get paid to look stupid, that he gives it away for free. But I can’t say things like that because I’m supposed to be merry.

“So instead I said, ‘Thank you!'”

Source: The Independent
Published: Dec 9, 1995
Length: 11 minutes (2,921 words)