What is this?
I am a journalist and novelist called Justin (or The Guyliner, long story), and my newsletter is a series of content formats, or strands if you like, so I’m writing something different every time. It’s a Substack featured publication which may well mean that it’s… good? I don’t know.
I think one email a week is more than enough for anybody, so that’s all I send. These content strands take it in turns to be the featured email of the week – there’s no fixed order or rota so some may come round more often than others. Here’s what I’m writing:
The truth about everything*
My original newsletter format, running since summer 2017. It’s an essay on… whatever. Perhaps inspired by something happening in the world right now, or a sparked memory. Just a new, fresh bit of writing from me.
Highlights: Cherry blossom | Routines | Connections | Losing Paul O’Grady
I used to struggle to make it past the pilot of any TV show, but I’m getting better. In Ejector seat, I dissect the first episode of a show, and assess whether it’s worth checking out the rest, or, use the ejector seat and parachute out of there. I’ll review new shows, assess old favourites for a rewatch, or one-offs that should (or shouldn’t) be picked up for a series.
Highlights: The Last of Us | Absolutely Fabulous
A look at what’s been happening in the world, or to me, in 3–5 mini essays.
I previously trialled Moodring on the Twitter Notes function when that looked like it was going to be the future, but then Twitter turned into the Death Star.
Highlights: I wish you well | Lockdown madness | Reading
My reviews/analyses/recaps of the Guardian’s Blind Date columns have been really popular over the years (thank you for reading) and I often get asked if to review other columns – not always dating ones. So that’s what Word c•unt (rhymes with mount, not blunt) will do: pick out a column from a national newspaper or magazine and have a closer look at it, discuss what it’s saying. Not in a horrible way. Just… in a way.
For the sake of my mental health, I won’t cover transphobic or homophobic columns (halves my scope there, doesn’t it), unless it’s a news story so huge it becomes unavoidable.
Highlights: Adrian Chiles | Readers’ tips pages in women’s weeklies.
I will happily take nominations for future reviews from readers.
The Madonna Diaries
My writing on Madonna almost always get really positive feedback, yet I haven’t written much about her music. So, in the Madonna Diaries, I’ll delve randomly into her back catalogue, take out a song, and discuss its impact, not just on me, because I am not that interesting, but on others, both at the time and since. I won’t focus on how the song came about – a podcast called Inside the Groove already does that very well – but will probably look at the artwork and video (if it’s a single) and cover my own memories of that period and the song itself.
Highlights: Papa Don’t Preach | Material Girl | Like a Prayer