Filtered, week of 12 Oct 2020
I'm out of practice at this. Bear with me.
I'm doing some work with a government department at the moment, reviewing the accessibility of their digital services as part of recent changes in accessibility regulations. It's been quite the nostalgic experience - I used to do this stuff full time at a design agency years ago, working with charities and government, reviewing designs and code, and writing accessibility statements.
There's a difference between understanding accessibility in principle and the detail of implementation and it's been a nice refresher on the latter. I feel like I'm learning again - and there hasn't been enough of that lately.
The somewhat dispiriting message for me from doing these reviews is just how few digital teams take their markup seriously. That's not a criticism of one particular government department, but of how we — this industry — think about building things in the right way.
It's long been this way of course, but the lack of care around well-formed markup makes me yearn for the days when ‘Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional’ was a badge of honour.
Front-end development is a craft.
I've been re-watching ‘The Fall’ on Netflix, a brutal succession of assaults, abductions and murders, apparently as some kind of light relief from all of this. It's still better than watching the news.
I don't think I was conscious first time round just how much of the series revolves around looking at and watching Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson. Every male character in the series seems to spend their time watching her. But you are too. The shots linger a fraction too long for comfort turning you, it can feel, from viewer to voyeur, mirroring the way Spector observes his victims. Anderson brings an incredible stillness to the role.
Andrew O'Hagan has a new book out: Mayflies. He's been doing a turn at a few of the now-online book festivals. I was chatting to one of my longest-standing friends about our shared obsession with O'Hagan, not just as a writer but what he represents to us.
The three of us share some of the same cultural background (there's a bit of West of Scotland code for you). I suspect we also share some of the things we resented about Scotland and Scottishness and found freedom from in London. I think, in our own ways, that struggle resolved itself amicably a long time ago. We've changed (a bit), Scotland has changed (a lot).
But I think O'Hagan also represents a very particular way of 'being Scottish' that I just love. Erudite, lyrical, political. And he's just so bloody handsome.
I have good days and bad days. Good hours, bad hours. Days when this smaller, world of fewer possibilities seems simpler and more manageable. And then there are these days when you're just on repeat, finding any variation in your routine to remind yourself that you're still here.
Early in lockdown, I couldn't face running. It took whole months to re-find my routine. But the last four weeks have been my most consistent in some time, four days a week when I can escape these walls and my own head for a while and re-emerge lighter and a little more alive.
Autumn is such good running weather too: it rewards exertion, warming frozen fingers, replaces the dull metronomic thud of footfall with crisp leaves catching your every step. Actual joy.
My intended running goals for the year are way off now, but I'm finding satisfaction in slowly narrowing the gap between what I hoped I'd achieve and what I have. This has, despite it all, been a year of running I've only ever bettered once. So there's that.