Friday Notes || No.23

On medieval fashion & my thoughts on the new year

Hello, and welcome to Friday Notes. This week’s edition of Friday Notes is all about a weird medieval fashion trend for pointy shoes and my thoughts on the coming year.

I’d like to take a moment to wish you a very happy new year. I’m sure that for many of you, the end of 2020 and start of 2021 feel a little bittersweet. We’re all still in the midst of a global pandemic, and for my socialist and/or remainer friends in the UK, we also have the grief of coming to terms with the loss of our European citizenship. Many if not all of us - no matter where we are in the world - are starting the new year with a heavy weight on our shoulders, and initially I don’t think the new year will look or feel too different to the old one. That said, I remain hopeful. With time, we will come through the other side of the pandemic, and be able to start rebuilding our lives and communities. We are in a stronger position than we were twelve months ago, with vaccines and established physical distancing practices in place, even though case numbers are higher than they ever have been and we are currently in the eye of the storm.

As for Brexit, I will always be a European, even if I am no longer a citizen of the European Union. I believe in a united Europe, in collaboration, cooperation and the European Project, even if my country has foolishly fallen for populism and nationalism and turned its back on Europe for the time being. Without the imagined bogeyman of Europe to blame for all of England’s woes, my hope is that we will finally do some soul searching and realise that our problems lie closer to home in the hands of our elected officials. We have ‘taken back control’ from Europe only to hand it to a government intent on bypassing parliament, the judiciary and media scrutiny. So much for power of the people. But enough of that for the time being. Sometimes I need to take a break from politics, for the sake of my own mental health.

Friday Notes is my weekly newsletter round-up of my own work together with a curated list of the essays, articles, music, web comics, videos, films and books I enjoy each week, online and off. I hope you find something that interests you.

What I've been enjoying this week

1. In Medieval Europe for the best part of a century, super pointy, highly impractical shoes were the height of fashion. This piece in Atlas Obscura explains how the craze got started and why it endured for as long as it did.

2. Artist and illustrator Cécile made Daruma out of salt dough as gifts for family and friends. I hadn’t heard of Daruma dolls before, so enjoyed reading up about the traditions associated with them. I also have plans to play with some salt dough myself in the coming weeks.

3. Ed and I have been rewatching Watchmen this week. We don’t have a TV or any of the subscriptions like Netflix or Sky, so we’re pretty out of touch when it comes to recent TV series, but somehow heard about Watchmen at the time it was released. We bought the DVD box set earlier this week which comes with some bonus materials like interviews and extra scenes. One of my favourite things about Watchmen is the soundtrack, composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. I’m a fan of Nine Inch Nails and Trent’s other musical ventures, and I think it was through details of the soundtrack that I first heard about Watchmen. If you haven’t seen it - and even if you aren’t usually a fan of superhero comics and films - I really recommend you give it a chance. It turns the stereotypical white men in pants narrative on its head.

4. It somehow escaped me when it was first released, but I bought a copy of Thrice’s 2018 album ‘Palms’ this week and really enjoyed it. Each album of theirs is experimental and has a slightly different sound, but always distinctively ‘Thrice’. Ed and I went to their ‘farewell’ tour in London in 2012 and haven’t had a chance to see them live since, even though this is their second album since they came back from hiatus. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see them play once live shows are back.

If you’re new to Thrice, can I recommend a couple of my favourite songs of theirs to get you started? The titular ‘Beggars’ from 2009’s album and ‘Black Honey’ from 2016’s ‘To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere’. The video for ‘Black Honey’ is really good, too. These two songs will give you an idea of Thrice’s lyrical themes and sound and why I love them so much! Thrice aren’t explicitly a Christian band, but Dustin Kensrue’s Christian faith underpins a lot of his lyrics, and many of their songs are social and political commentaries, as is so much of punk and (melodic- / post-) hardcore as genres.

New from me this week

1. My December ‘Etched Behind Eyelids’ blogpost. I need to edit December’s video still, so I’ll update the blog post once I’ve finished that.

That's all for this week, thanks for reading.

See you next Friday!


If you're reading this for the first time, hello, my name is Stéphanie. I'm a documentary photographer, filmmaker and writer, and I live in Birmingham in the UK. I hold a PhD in environmental social science from the University of Birmingham, and write about art, society, politics and the environment.

You can find out more about me and my work at these other places on the web:

Portfolio Website | Personal Blog | Flickr | Vimeo | YouTube | Instagram