Charlotte Street Partners



Where is home?

Written by Malcolm Robertson, founding partner
16 January 2020

For many of us, this seemingly endless period of relative isolation has provided time to think about what matters and – perhaps more importantly – what does not.

I am lucky enough to live in Edinburgh, one of the world’s great cities. But I have struggled with the invisible (and hopefully temporary) borders put up around what is, for now, my home. My heart, I reflect often, resides in other – forbidden – places and to me, that matters.

In our first piece this week, Arthur Brooks reflects in The Atlantic of the warmth one feels from a place. A more academic voice might call it ‘topophilia’, but I prefer Brooks’ simpler definition.

When I’m not wrapped up in imagining being back in those places I really love, I enjoy reading about the world beyond these islands every morning, before taking a necessary – if modest – dose of the grim-tasting medicine served up closer to home.

Every week here, we try to do the same thing; provide new perspectives and interesting reflections, not just of these difficult times but of more enduring issues that will be pertinent long after the storm has passed. We hope you enjoy this week’s selection from our team.

Have a good weekend. 

1. Is where you live truly your home? 

At the moment, we’re all spending much more time in the places we live, but what does it take to truly call somewhere home? With an apparent pandemic-driven flight from the UK’s biggest cities underway, perhaps people really are discovering what this article describes as the “sheer audacity of moving for a feeling”. 

Read in The Atlantic  


2. On Justice 

In 2004, Lisa Montgomery murdered a pregnant woman and kidnapped her child. This week Montgomery, who had experienced years of abuse, was executed by the US federal government. Livingston-based criminal defence lawyer Iain Smith compares the case to Scotland’s “revolving door” justice system, where early trauma can drive its victims to drugs, alcohol and crime. Smith argues a change in government’s approach to addiction could break this vicious cycle. 

Read in Charlotte Street Partners 

3. How I survived a Chinese re-education camp for Uighurs

This is the story of Gulbahar Haitiwaji. Having spent 10 years living in France, she returned to China in 2016 to sign some papers for her former employer. For the next two years, she was dehumanised, humiliated and brainwashed in a Chinese ‘re-education’ camp for Uighurs. This is a shocking, first-hand account of monumental, systemic human rights abuse, the scale and perceived ease of which makes for an uncomfortable, but hugely important read. 

Read in The Guardian

4. A Japanese forestry firm wants to put wooden satellites into space

The space age was built on clever materials. The business end of a rocket engines is composed of Inconel, a family of heat-and-corrosion-resistant nickel-chromium alloys developed in the 1940s. But in their cleverness, men in white lab coats may have overlooked a more natural and abundant resource. Now, a Japanese company and Kyoto University have joined forces to develop what they hope will be the world’s first satellites wooden satellites by 2023. As space junk becomes a greater problem, the new wooden satellites are intended to burn up on re-entry without creating harmful substances or debris. Now, how clever is that? 

Read in The Economist 

5. British east and south east Asians fight racism during coronavirus

During the early days of the pandemic, many people of east and southeast Asian (EASA) descent closeted themselves at home, fearing racially-aggravated violence more so than the possibility of contracting Covid. Between January and June, Met Police recorded a total of 457 race-related crimes against people of ‘Oriental’ ethnicity or who self-defined as Chinese: a result of the virus being inextricably linked to China. This article explores the lesser-known impacts on EASA communities. 

Read in: The Independent 

And finally … Alone together

Friendships are a certainty that is easy to undo. What proof do we have that anyone is really our friend? Do texts count? A sufficient call-log? Birthday cards? This piece seeks to explore how our relationships have been tested by Covid and the new forms they’ve taken throughout this pandemic. It is a reminder for many of us that despite how we may feel, we are not alone. And, if we do happen to be alone, we are alone together.  

Read in Financial Times 

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