The man who sold his own back. Plus: America’s last disco ball maker; obese bees and the power of pink


I have now been freelance for a year and one of the things I get asked most is what it’s like. People often wonder whether I get lonely; if it’s difficult to find enough work; and how I manage my time. So here, for what they’re worth, are some of my freelancer headlines.

Time, obviously, is crucial. One of the best things about being freelance is being the master of my own time. I can make appointments in the middle of the day, take my dog for a walk whenever I like, and take my laptop and notes and work from anywhere I choose. A downside to this mastery is the realisation, especially when your job now consists of doing lots of little bitty things with no set place to do them, that your time is an extremely precious resource. Commuting is a bore, but so too is traipsing around to five different 1-hour appointments all over London that somehow manage to eat an entire day.

I also love the freedom from office politics and the chance to decide, day-to-day, what I’d like my job to look like. I don’t get lonely, and if I want to work with people around then I go to a cafe or library. But of course there are downsides: I sometimes feel out of the editorial loops that I used to rely on to spark ideas and energy. Work comes in agonising clumps: nothing for weeks and then a glut of commissions that leave me jabbing dementedly at my keyboard into the night. And, if I send in a pitch or piece and don’t hear back, I find myself struggling not to regress into the mentality of a teenager texting their first crush. (Why haven’t they replied? Did they get it? Maybe there was a glitch on their email server…?)

A remedy to many of these problems is meeting up regularly with peers, which is one of the many reasons that I’m delighted to be involved with Always Take Notes. If any of the above chimes with you, or if you feel I might need a stern talking to for spouting self-indulgent rubbish, then please do come along to one of our events. They take place on the first Tuesday of each month in London and feature a Q&A with someone in the industry and a chance to chat to all manner of writers, journalists, publishers, editors and agents. And if you turn up to next week’s event you’ll have a chance to wish me luck for my wedding, which is taking place next month.

Below, as ever, are a selection of things that caught my eye this month and some of the pieces that I’ve worked on. Enjoy.

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The tattooed man who sold his own back

Oliver Sachs and the island of the colourblind

When Trump’s handshake met its match

The megalomaniac in Speedos“: how Bikram Choudhury lost control of the yoga empire that bears his name

The best books erode the personhood of their readers

Male bumblebees are becoming infected with a parasite that makes them too fat to mate

America’s last disco ball maker

Why barns are painted red: the answer takes in the furthest reaches of the universe and nuclear fusion

Meet Shakespeare’s many co-authors

A retirement home in Mexico City for sex workers

Your social media habit is costing you 200 books each year

OPERATOR: 911—what’s your emergency?  ROBERT: Hi, I…uh…I work from home

And finally: I discussed the power of pink with Woman’s Hour, whether it is possible to ever own a colour with Monocle 24 and whether colour is purely subjective for RA Magazine

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