How (not) to write a sequel to Lord of the Rings (New Statesman)

Adapted from a live performance, I explain why you shouldn’t write a sequel to Lord of the Rings, with reference to various people who’ve tried and failed in different ways.

How (not) to write a sequel to Lord of the Rings

Let’s start at the end: “‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.” And with that, thousand-page long fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings is finally over – J.R.R. Tolkien drops the mic, and the history of Middle Earth is done.

14 things we learned from a list of every bus stop in London (CityMetric)

Another part of an irregular series in which I attempt to drive myself mad using huge databases about public infrastructure:

14 things we learned from a list of every bus stop in London

If you visited one per day, for some reason, it would take you nearly 54 years. I’ve just worked out that statistically I’d probably be dead before I finished, so I’m not going to bother. There are 1,759 stops labelled “A” in the capital.

The Best Day For Your Big Day (Distilled/Bloomingdale’s)

What’s the perfect day to get married on? If you live in the USA, I’ve worked it out (maybe).

I crunched data about the typical weather for each calendar date in different US cities, which was then used to power a tool to find the day with closest to ideal weather conditions for a wedding.

Best Wedding Dates in 2017 & 2018 by State (US) – Bloomingdale’s

Want to take down the stress of picking the perfect wedding date? Bloomingdale’s can help! Check out our new interactive WEDDING WEATHER PLANNER!

A celebration of 70 years of Walkers trying to sell you crisps in truly bizarre ways (New Statesman)

The New Statesman asked me to write about crisps, so I went on YouTube instead:

A celebration of 70 years of Walkers trying to sell you crisps in truly bizarre ways

2018 marks 70 years since Walkers, a butcher’s firm from Leicester, decided to beat post-war rationing by slicing potatoes instead of meat, and ended up creating the most popular brand of crisps in the UK. And while there have been dozen of variations of flavour and tweaks to the recipe, they’re still basically just the same old crisps.

How a 17th century war, the Queen and a desperate Swiss TV executive led to Eurovision (New Statesman)

The story of the origin of Eurovision, via Talented Mr Ripley fan-fiction for some reason:

How a 17th century war, the Queen and a desperate Swiss TV executive led to Eurovision

Did you know: there’s a scene in the film The Talented Mr Ripley where, if you squint, you can see the Eurovision Song Contest being born? Admittedly you to have squint really very hard indeed, because it was made by Anthony Minghella, and not say, me.

No, China isn’t Black Mirror – social credit scores are more complex and sinister than that (New Statesman)

No, China isn’t Black Mirror – social credit scores are more complex and sinister than that

What a gift Charlie Brooker’s dystopian series has been to journalists: any time a reporter covers a story about even vaguely dystopian technology, the main thing they have to do is determine which episode of Black Mirror it’s like, saving everyone the bother of finding out what’s really going on.