Other Journalism & Radio

The Daily Telegraph

For 116 weeks, between January 2003 and March 2005, I produced an exclusive Miscellany column for the ‘Weekend’ section of the Saturday Telegraph. The column featured crisp new miscellany not before published. Below are a couple of samples from this series (the archive of which is not online).

   

The Guardian

The Guardian serialised the first two editions of the British Almanac – devoting the cover of G2 and ten inside pages to the book.

Reader’s Digest

Having taken photographs for Reader’s Digest in the past, including a cover portrait of PM Tony Blair, it was a pleasure later to be asked to write for the magazine. I created two columns for the Digest, the first (2008–2009) was an Almanac spread relevant to each month; the second (2010–2011) was a series of ‘Snap Schotts’ featuring a newsy statistical nugget. Examples of each of these columns are below:

   

Condé Nast Traveller

For two years between October 2004 and September 2006, I wrote a column for the British edition of Condé Nast Traveller (note the two “l”s; the US edition is Traveler). These columns covered a range of travel-related Miscellany, from the causes of sea-sickness to advice on how to pack. Below are a few examples:

      

Condé Nast Portfolio

Condé Nast Portfolio asked me to design the front-of-book calendar page which listed salient business events for the coming month. I created a bespoke, modular grid which took advantage of every pica of space and allowed for the greatest degree of flexibility. Rather than populate my prototype design with “lorem ipsum” blurb, I filled the text-boxes with jokes to accompany my dummy clip art. My editors enjoyed the jokes, and I ended up writing the column each month for the all-too-short life of the magazine (2007–2009). Below is the grid that I designed, and an example of its employment.

     

In 2008, as the financial crunch bit, I transformed one of my column entries into the magazine’s Christmas card, aided by my editor Todd Pruzan. To the tune of Auld Lang Syne, the ditty ran:

Should auld investments be forgot,

And hedged against the Yen?

Should auld deposits be defunct,

And never seen again?

For auld lang syne, my dear,

We’ll stuff the mattress full of cash,

For the sake of auld lang syne.

 

American Express Black Ink

In 2007 I was asked to create a bespoke Miscellany series for Black Ink – the quarterly magazine published by American Express for holders of “the notorious Black Card” – i.e., “ultra-high-net-worth individuals.” Below is a sample of Schott’s Assemblage:

Vanity Fair

I have written a couple of pieces for Vanity Fair, including this Oscar Miscellany compiled for the magazine’s 2007 ‘Hollywood edition’:

Time Out London

In December 2006 I was asked to contribute to Time Out London‘s special “list” edition. Here are my London lists:

Radio

After ink on paper, radio is my favourite medium – and it is an ideal fit for Miscellany. Below are some of the radio pieces I have written and presented for Radio 4. Sadly, though, because of BBC licensing restrictions, none are currently online.

The Rise of the Footnote
April 2008
produced by Nicola Barranger

“A light-hearted look at the history of the footnote in western literature, from the scribbled notes in the margin of a manuscript to multi-layered systems such as Wikipedia, an online environment where any piece of text can be a footnote to any other.”

Oulipo
November 2009
produced by Bob Dickinson

“Founded in 1960 and still in existence, Oulipo create work by imposing playful restrictions the way a text will be produced. Oulipo stands for Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle, meaning Workshop for Potential Literature. In this humourous history of the French literary group, Ben discovers that recently, Oulipo have even made a bridgehead into English-speaking territory.”

Almanacs: The Oldest Guide
to Everything

July 2010
produced by Tamsin Hughes

“At their height, apart from the bible, almanacs were the bestselling books on the market, with over 400,000 sold annually … Combining the characteristics of calendar, self-help manual & pocket encyclopaedia, almanacs contained utilitarian information on just about everything: feast days, when to sow crops, let blood, how to write an IOU, even advice on amateur surgery and DIY abortion. They also included dramatic astrological prophesies about the likelihood of plague, famine and war. Passages were read to boost soldiers’ morale in battle and by MPs in the House of Commons.”

Font or Cheese

In December 2010, I had the honour to play a radio version of “Font or Cheese” against Sheila Dillon from Radio 4′s Food Programme. A snippet of our match – umpired by the great Harriet Cass – featured on Stephen Fry’s “Fry’s English Delight” special on word games.