Browser 11: half living quarters, half pig pen

What we’re browsing, watching, reading, eating


Laura Waddell [LW]: I’ve been in a real disconnected mood recently. I wrote about hyper anxiety and logging off in my column this week. Having spent much of the festive break offline, it’s unsurprising that the only thing I have to share, this time around, is a mechanism of pure escapism. If you are bored of your own surroundings, look through someone else’s window, via Window Swap. Just one click and you could be viewing the streets of San Francisco, or overlooking someone’s garden in Bogota. Occasionally, pets make an appearance.

Apart from that, someone tweeted an enjoyable picture of barnacles wearing a hard hat.

Film & TV

Lisa Coen [LC]: We got to the end of the latest version of Star Trek Discovery and I’m devastated, despite complaining about it almost non-stop (I was hoping they’d bring back a character they seem to keep hinting about, but instead they killed off one of the best ones?!). Spoiler alert for the following: there’s something going on in the last couple of episodes, and I thought I was imagining it, but lo and behold, some nerd on Youtube has validated my suspicion that they’re paying homage to Die Hard.

LW: I’m not very good at keeping up with the latest shows but whenever I have a lot on my plate, I turn to tv that doesn’t require very much from me as a viewer. I find the whole ‘Great British’ format fatiguing if there’s too much bunting and tweeness, but I recently got into the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC iPlayer, while (badly) sewing fish out of some silver fabric I had lying around. I made two sardines, a shark, and a piranha. The final episode disappeared from iplayer just as I settled down to watch it, but I’m content with not knowing who wins.

I also put Tiny House Nation on Netflix on for background noise, and it’s a kind of nightmare rebranding of difficult living situations as aspirational, in the way ‘side hustles’ are pushed in this era of job instability and poor work/life balance. For example, one tired looking man who worked two jobs, including as a fireman, couldn’t keep up with mortgage payments so the family decided to ‘go tiny’, moving into what is essentially a tricked out trailer, complete with climbing wall on the outside for the kids. But there’s an episode with pig racers, who’ve taken their Ham Bone Express to state fairs in the US for the past 16 years. Their tour bus was half living quarters, and half pig pen, and the pigs would scratch at the wall just behind the couple’s bed so they could hear them in the night. They just wanted to live in a house without pigs. It makes for compelling, if disturbing, viewing.


LC: I got a sneaky advance copy of Roisin Kiberd’s The Disconnect (Serpent’s Tail) and I love it. Smart, sharp, often a bit too close for comfort. That’s due out in March

LW: I’ve had a good run of 2021 reads. I started with Maggie Nelson’s Jane: A Murder (Soft Skull Press), which is about the death of an aunt, four years before her own birth, and the way in which it impacted her own home life. It’s told in beautiful, inquisitive fragments of prose and poetry, alongside excerpts from Janes’s own college journal, and at the time, it was believed a local serial killer was responsible. Her follow-up, The Red Parts (Vintage), follows the trial of a new suspect, unexpectedly cropping up around the time Jane was to be published.

I also really enjoyed Notes from an Apocalypse by Mark O’Connell (Granta), which explores the world of preppers and nuclear bunkers, journeying from North Dakota to Pripyat. He’s good at skewing the colonial, patriarchal fantasies lurking in the background of this world. Our very own Sarah Davis-Goff (who is currently on maternity leave, if you’re wondering where she is) even pops up as Mark’s “publishing friend.”


LC: I’ve subscribed to the new season of Mother of Pod, which is just €4 on Broadcast. It’s the only parenting advice that’s worth hearing and it’s consistently gas.

LW: Other than Megan Thee Stallion’s album Good News, for the benefit of my slipped disc/sciatica situation I’ve been doing short walks every day, and listening to the podcast You’re Wrong About has made it much less tedious. Their episode on Losing Relatives To Fox News is particularly good, looking at why older Americans are more susceptible to misinformation.


LW: I like two coffees first thing, one after the other, so to streamline the process I bought a giant Oscar the Grouch mug that holds the volume of two normal mugs.

I am really susceptible to food cravings, where I eat a lot of a particular food over the course of a few weeks. Recently that has been Leon‘s supermarket range Aioli Mac and No Cheese Bites. A bitesize combo of chewy pasta, crispy breadcrumbs, and oozing cheese (or its vegan equivalent).

I’ve also been lusting over these beautiful rings from the jeweller Maud Treon, which are like jewelled, seaweedy, marine rock formations.

LC: Still knitting over here! I made a lot of hats over Christmas, and now I’ve decided to try colourwork. It’s really hard to get a moment to do it, so that’s why I stick mostly with hats, anything larger would take years at my ten-minute-a-day pace.

I like this article by Alexandra Hemingsley about her knitting journey. She’s also just published a new book, Somebody to Love. I’m really looking forward to reading it. I’ve read Running Like a Girl at least five times, no exaggeration.

I still get little to no pleasure from food during this god-awful pandemic. I’m putting ketchup on everything. I think I need to rekindle a love of food, so I might watch Babette’s Feast or Eat Drink Man Woman this weekend.  What’s a good foodie movie to watch? Ratatouille, perhaps.

Here’s the opening scene from Eat Drink Man Woman. Warning: it starts with a fish having a very bad time.


LC: Can I just say, since colouring books for adults have been such a hit, I predict the next thing will be play-doh for mindfulness. My toddler and I have a great time with it, and I’ve been finding it really satisfying. I’m not making anything fancy, I just love to push it through the shaper tool things. You can of course make your own salt dough and if you were especially pleased with what you had made, you can pop it in the oven on a low slow heat to immortalise it. 

In other news, I’ve decided to treat myself to a visit to a physiotherapist for an ongoing sore foot problem. She told me she’s seeing a lot of people having discomfort with the tendons in their feet due to the fact that they’re going barefoot a lot while they work from home and are therefore getting a lot less arch support than previously. I smugly informed her that my sore foot predates the pandemic and I was already failing to care for my arches, thank you. 

One Last Thing!

With new books from Mona Eltahawy, Sophie White and Niall Bourke, we’re looking forward to spring.

Check them out here.