The TW+ guide to…

The Eighty-Eight

Appearance: British jazz cutie Jamie Cullum has obviously been inspired by TW+ to produce an “occasional magazine” that he hopes “will spark the fire of intrigue in us all”.

So why is TW+ interested? The first issue of The Eighty-Eight, “curated” by Cullum, has what he describes as a number of random curiosities — what we would call articles. However, the one that made us look closer was “a curious history of seafaring”.

What does Jamie know about seafaring? Other articles are more up his street, so to speak, such as those on silent film soundtracks, how the icons of jazz made their mark on menswear and Jamie’s obsession with sneakers.

So, why seafaring? Well, Jamie says: “The magazine isn’t about me necessarily, but about things that I’m interested in.” And he adds: “Not many people know that I did English literature and typography, so I got to indulge my passion for fonts and design.”

But what do fonts have to do with the sea? Jamie also says he wanted to involve his friends who are journalists or writers, including Sophie Dahl. One of the contributors, Tom Tivnan, who was employed as features editor of The Bookseller to “sex up” its content, wrote an article headlined Rum, Sodomy and the Lash.

Ah. So what we are really talking about is sex and drunkenness? Yes. Tivnan’s article lingers on conditions in the 18th and 19th centuries, when he says a sailor was likely to be a grizzled seadog “pickled after his daily ration of rum, teetering off the rigging and plunging into the drink”.

But where is the sex in that? In port, when “hundreds of lubricious, pox-scarred whores [were] piling into a newly-anchored ship to wildly copulate in the open with the cheering crew”.

Say, I’ve just realised. Sophie Dahl — isn’t she Jamie’s wife? Yes — and the grand-daughter of children’s author Roald Dahl has had careers as a 6ft, size-14 model, a TV cook (she was known as the Delicious Miss Dahl) and writer.

Do say: Did you know that Sophie and Jamie have moved into Roald’s old house?

Don’t say: Are the couple likely to remake Jamie and the Giant Peach?

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