At Smoke & Tales we often tell each other to do difficult things. It's become a kind of mantra. Our very own problem-free philosophy, to borrow a phrase from Timon & Pumba.
We don't mean specific difficult things. We rarely urge one another to read 'Infinite Jest' or learn to speak Mandarin. Who are we, after all, to say what you ought to be doing with your life? When we say those three words, we're talking about doing difficult things as a matter of habit, taking the path of more – if not 'most' – resistance. We do this because in virtually every respect the difficult things are a lot more fun.
This Issue – our third – has not been without its difficulties. The luxuries of Christmas and New Year create the perfect storm of distraction from productivity, which, though wonderful, leaves you feeling like you're starting the year in a celebration-induced haze. But it has also come together to be our strongest yet, with a batch of fresh new voices joining a few regular contributors.
This time around our Thoughts section is bristling with challenges. Alex Taylor explores the contradiction of loneliness in a city full of people, while Sarah Ponsford regales us with her favourite horror stories from Tinder. Charlie Boyle gives us his first piece for the magazine, exploring the beauty and benefits of settling into routine. Sofia Greenacre gives an honest account of what it's like pursuing the oft-impossible dream of making a living from your passion, as Ross Gillam explains the difference between a runner in London and a London Runner.
Our editors have weighed in too. Dipo Faloyin predicts that civil-war will break out should silence on the Tube stop being the norm, while Tom Owen says – completely unreasonably – that TimeOut magazine is a threat to your future happiness.
The Tales our writers have chosen to tell are as rich in voice and vision as ever. The dryly funny Tom Taylor endeavours to resurrect a dying art, while Simon Orriss gives us a charming story of misplaced misanthropy and Mercy. Adam Chociemski continues his strange and interesting life, while Annie Chisholm has graciously given us a photo essay on that most timeless of treasured places, the Southbank. Annie's photos also constitute the images you'll see here on our front page, so to her we are doubly grateful.
As always, we thank you in advance for your time. If you choose to spend it with us, we promise you'll be richly rewarded.
Dipo Faloyin and Tom Owen