Saturday August 20, 2022 – La Minute Monocle

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And we are back. If you’ve read this column in the past two weeks, you’ll be pleased to know that the return journey from Mallorca to London (with a ferry and the Channel Tunnel in the mix) is over. I’ll admit, as the adventures go, this isn’t quite Amundsen-at-the-South-Pole territory, but not flying really made it special. And, despite driving occasionally, no divorce papers were filed (although when I cut the sidewalk leaving a gas station just past Narbonne, there was a time when all bets were off open). And on that – gas stations, not whether I should have added an ejection seat when ordering the car – thanks to the reader Michel-Pierre, who emailed a welcome detailed instruction on the services where stop. His recommendation was to use only Total stations. We tried to take his advice but on a Saturday in August, when half of France seemed to be going to or coming from a beach, gite or campsite, even the Total stops felt like the Glastonbury festival the last day. But let’s move on.

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Petri Burtsoff, our correspondent in Helsinki, was in London this week and came to work for a day at Midori House. At lunchtime, our editor Josh Fehnert, Monocle 24 host and producer Markus Hippi (who is also a Finn) and I took Petri to lunch. All three are gentlemen of stature – tall, broad-shouldered; you’d want them on your rugby team, but maybe less on your interpretive dance troupe. (In the meantime, with my short stature, I’d be lucky to get a club mascot position.) When we arrived, I said hello to the butler, who scanned my guests and greeted me. said, “We’re going to need a bigger table today, sir. Some people might have taken offense to this but I thought he made a very wise call and it was a lot of fun. But if he had brought me a booster seat, maybe my joy would have been diminished.

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We also had James Chambers, our Asia Editor who is normally based in Hong Kong, in the office all week. It is his first trip to the UK since the outbreak of coronavirus and he has brought his wife and son, who were born in lockdown, with him to see his parents in Wales. In Europe, we just forget how parts of Asia are still struggling with draconian – and politically expedient – ​​pandemic restrictions. Anyway, all that uninterrupted time in HK had an effect on James. First, he invested in a lot of weather-resistant technical fiber clothing; he looked like a giant bag of chips as he walked around the office. Second, he went a little HK on top video calls. So James was offended this week when he made a call in the street, saying good night to his son, and a woman crossed the road and scolded him: “You are a very rude man.” Well, we think she was objecting to the call – maybe it was her attire that was spoiling her peaceful walk.

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We are working on our annual activity, contractors. One of the stories we’re looking for is about people running two very different businesses – the kind of vibe of the builder who’s also a cookie baron. We’re not just talking about side hustles, but about people with the type of brain that allows them to do very different things or maybe means they need do very different things. And this week, a potential writer came to me and made me think even harder about whether it’s better to do one thing well or to do a lot of things well. He’s run branding agencies and been a managing director, but now, at under 50, he spends part of the week freelancing on big projects he loves, one day a week volunteering for a famous gardener (before starting a gardening course) and, on Saturdays, works as a saleswoman in a place related to gardening. He said he wanted to make his professional life “plural,” a term I had never heard used in this context. It’s an accurate description of what a lot of people wonder and get around. It’s not a reluctance to work hard, far from it – just the feeling that people maybe want to use all their skills and passions.

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And going out into the world, even at Monocle, we still couldn’t connect like before, but finally I’m going back to the United States. I filled out my ESTA form this week and saw the section where you can list all your social media accounts for the first time. It is optional. But for how long ? Although if there are more likes for my dog’s photos…

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