About 72 Pete

About 72 Pete

You can email me at pete@peteashton.com - I'm either great at replying or terrible, so if it's important and I don't reply in a reasonable period of time, please feel free to nudge with another email.

The following was last edited on 11 May 2024.

Pete Ashton is me and I am a 50-something person living in Birmingham, a city in the middle of an island off the north-west coast of Europe.

I've been writing on the internet on and off since 2000. This is the most recent attempt to find a platform that works for me and I have some modest plans for it.

There are currently two broad strands on this site.

72 Pete is what you might call a blog. It's the bucket for the things I want to write about or share at any given moment. You'll find its posts on the front page.

(I've written more about what "72 Pete" means below.)

A digest of these posts is sent out by email at most once a week (if I've written anything) on a Sunday, along with a selection of links to interesting stuff I've seen online and other bits and bobs. If you've been receiving my newsletters for years you're already getting this. For new subscribers, chose Pete Ashton's newsletter when you subscribe. You can also get them by RSS and I send links to Mastodon.

The Aerobic Digest is a newsletter exclusively about composting, soil health and related subjects. It was spun off as a Substack newsletter but recently brought back into the fold. Its issues are archived here.

You can get these posts by email by selecting The Aerobic Digest when you subscribe, it has it's own RSS feed and I post it to the #compost tag on Mastodon.

What is 72 Pete?

72 Pete is a reference to the year of my birth, 1972. This date had followed me around on legal documents and application forms without me having any real sense of what happened then. I was, of course, a baby in 1972, and it would take a significant amount of time before I became aware of the world, by which time 1972 was a foreign country.

I then noticed our garden table, which Fiona had gotten from an old pub restaurant, had the number 72 fixed to it.

Two metal numbers, 7 and 2, as you might find on a door marking the house number, but they're fixed to a table because it used to be in a pub garden. The table and numbers are covered in frost.
It's a sign...

It turns out 1972 was a time of great change, often cited as the year Modernism and the post-war consensus died and the the neoliberal hegemony of Thatcherism and Reganomics. As I read Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism, a book about why we can't imagine a future other than the binary choice of more of the same or post-apocalypse, I saw the year of my birth as the smoking gun, year zero for some (if not all) that is wrong with the world.

The 1972 Project was due to be my big artwork of the 2020s, a mid-life crisis rendered as a multidisciplinary artwork, but soon after I launched it the pandemic hit and my life entered a spiral.

It's 2024 and I find myself in the grips of an Autistic Burnout, the recovery from which is causing me to examine episodes of my life that were, in hindsight, directly informed by my undiagnosed neurodivergence. (I received an autism diagnosis in my late 40s but due to it not being medically disabling have been left to figure it out on my own.)

Part of my recovery is resting and not doing much, which is hard having pushed myself to do plenty over the years. I need to fill the yawning gaps with something, so why not bring back the 1972 project? Only this time it won't be a grand attempt to explain the rise of neoliberalism. It'll be something a little more personal. (While also explaining the rise of neoliberalism, because I am still who I am.)

But it's also a nice vague, loose title for a writing project which I think needs to be loose and vague. I write about stuff, some of it will congeal into themes, some won't, and that's OK.

As is the nature of these things, this page will be out of date within a week, so don't be confused if it doesn't match whatever this site has evolved into.