What Razor LOVES: September 2019

We’re an eclectic bunch at team Razor.

Each month, we’ll share with the world a flavour of what’s caught our attention and influenced our thinking and conversations in the office.


Chloë F
I’ve just finished a book called The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold. Each chapter is a biography of each of his five victims. Crucially, she puts the flesh back on their bones. Her premise is that they’ve been undermined and disrespected by the passage of history which has focused on the mystery of the Ripper and labelled his victims as merely sex workers (in fact, only two of them were). The picture she paints of the squalid, desperate lives of these women is fascinating. And of course, truly tragic.

There’s something so satisfying about an old item of clothing or a piece of furniture being given a new lease of life; even more so now that waste reduction is such a hot topic. Sadly, I don’t have a shed at home to potter away in but I’m making more of an effort to repair or repurpose smaller items around my flat. One of the happiest hashtags I follow on Instagram is #TheRepairShop and, if you’ve ever watched the TV show, you’ll understand why I find it so heart-warming. I could wax lyrical about this programme but I’d encourage you to read this recent Guardian article about it instead. If you’ve never watched an episode, do give it a try. It’s wonderful.

It’s been back to school for me, this September, to (re)learn German at CityLit. I let my near-fluency slide over the last *ahem* years but it’s all slowly coming back to me thanks to a brilliant tutor. CityLit has such a great adult education curriculum; I learned to sew there and briefly dabbled in a spot of Russian. I can’t recommend going back to school at CityLit highly enough!

I know I’m late to the party but I was totally blown away watching Hamilton a few weeks ago and I’ve been chewing everyone’s ears off about it since! As a theatre lover, who wouldn’t usually opt for a musical, I was sceptical; but Hamilton is hands down the best show I’ve ever seen! I love how surprising, witty and clever it is and I truly admire Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ability to bring a (potentially dull) historical story to the stage in such a sensational way. I’ve still got the soundtrack on repeat!

Inspired by our recent Razor VR experience in East London, I’ve become engrossed in the hypothesis that we’re living in a simulated reality. Elon Musk is probably the most highbrow believer and puts our chances of living in ‘base reality’ as one in a billion. According to this hypothesis, it’s far more probable that we’re living in a simulation. This idea has blown my mind!

We’ve turned to board games at home in a bid to watch less TV. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders is a big hit and proving to be quite addictive. We’re really enjoying putting on different character accents and solving crimes! (Editor’s note: Pleeease bring this game into the office, Lindsay!)

I’m interested in how food and drinks can be modified to help benefit the environment. Soy products have been on the rise in recent times, but we now have a tastier game changer…the love of my life; chocolate! Swiss chocolatier, Barry Callebaut, unveiled a new recipe that includes the entire cocoa fruit (cacao) as opposed to just the beans. Typically, 70% of the fruit is wasted during the chocolate-making process and, as we seek lower sugar content and less harm to the environment, this seems like the perfect solution – one that could also enhance juices, smoothies, deserts and bakery products. I really hope this trend catches on!

FOOD: Bigger than the Plate

The kids recently went back to school and it didn’t seem fair to me that they get to crack on with that heady job of learning while all us oldies have is a more crowded commute.

To celebrate September, and to do some learning, the Razors went on a field trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum to feast on its latest exhibition, FOOD: Bigger than the Plate.

I love the V&A. I love wandering past all the ‘old stuff’ and into a space that, over the years, has given me McQueen, Kylie, Princess Diana, Bowie, and cruise ships. They’re nothing if not eclectic over there. 

What did I learn?
That pineapple fabric is pretty cool, that I need to watch more YouTube (Italian Grandmas Try Olive Garden For The First Time had me hooting in hallowed halls), that chickens are fabulous and complicated, and that the people who get our food to our plates – from cake to carrot – deserve all of our respect. 

Like any good schoolmistress, I naturally doled out some homework after our visit. Here’s what the team had to say:

“I was fascinated by the ingenuity of others and their desire to find ways to be more sustainable (who knew you could make cups and saucers out of used coffee grounds?!). With all the talk of global warming and how we’re ruining our planet, it was comforting to see many examples of people trying to make a difference. (It made me feel like I should do something too!) I also really enjoyed the video reel on how food is produced and farmed all around the world. I’d genuinely never given any thought as to how my iceberg lettuce is harvested and prepped to be sold. I often think about technology and the potential for it to render humans obsolete, so it was quite refreshing to see examples of humans and technology working together in food production.”

Chloe B
“I really enjoyed the exhibition. There’s something that stuck with me from the moment we walked in: 60% of the world still doesn’t have access to clean water. I had no idea it was that much and it’s already made me stop being so wasteful with tap water. I’m a big hypocrite when it comes to eating meat (I love eating it but can’t bear to think about the process behind it) so watching the video reel of a mass production line was pretty disturbing. It might not be enough to put me off meat for good but it’s definitely made me want to make my food choices more carfeully.”

“I thought the digital farming aspect was fascinating. Using computer robotic systems to adjust and monitor climate, energy and plant growth inside a specialised growing chamber really blew my mind. Creating varying climatic conditions for different products opens up agricultural research to the digital generation and could allow for more products to be grown here rather than imported from different countries. It was scary, but comforting, to see how the digital world could farm products locally and help reduce climate change. I like to think of my food being grown organically but if this method could help to reduce the global impact of exportation then why not? The marriage of farming and technology is a beautiful concept and I think it should be adopted everywhere. I also enjoyed LOCI Food Lab where you personally select what makes a great food system and they make an hors d’oeuvre snack tailored just for you. Yum!”

“This exhibition made me think how little I know (or think) about where my food comes from; and that I totally take for granted how accessible it is. I’m out a fair bit during the week which means I’m often guilty of food wastage. I actually stopped myself buying an iceberg lettuce the other day having had my eyes opened to the laborious process from field to supermarket. The final exhibit is LOCI Food Lab where we got to try a canapé of sustainable food which I found surprisingly enjoyable and made me feel positive about the future of food!”

“My general expectation was that I’d come away from this exhibition with some new ideas to help change my behaviours. What I hadn’t banked on was how charming it would also be. FOOD: Bigger than the Plate is as entertaining as it is informative. I could go on about almost every exhibit for hours, but my favourite part was a 13-minute silent loop of short video clips showing the sinister truths of food production (not just obligatory abattoir scenes but the crop-dusting and crop-picking too). When we see these kind of clips on TV there’s usually a narrator stealing focus. This time, the images did all the talking, leaving me with plenty of food for thought.”

Here’s to being well and truly back at school! (If we’ve whetted your appetite, the exhibition will be on until Sunday 20th October.)