As is traditional at this time of year, I have been reflecting on the things I have achieved and enjoyed through the last 12 months. Today, a tour of things I have enjoyed. Achievements is more of an essay than a cute list to scroll down while you’re meant to be proofing the end of year report, and will come next week.
Obviously, this does not include intangible stuff like “time spent with loved ones” and “staring at the moon with a 20 year old scotch and a heart full of dreams” because ain’t no one going to click on affiliate links for that. (I jest. I am not a professional enough blogger to use affiliate links.) But yeah this is all stuff you can buy or download or whatever.
OH MY GOD this is BRILLIANT. My favourite Marvel thing ever, and I really love superhero stuff. What I like most about Jessica Jones is the unashamed feminist subtext (obvs) and also the baddie. He is amazingly sinister and richly painted and creepily familiar to anyone who has ever had any kind of dealings with a Nice Guys Of OKCupid style slimeball. Also, the productions values are ace and the pacing is spot on.
The Great Pottery Throwdown
I love this pottery programme more than its sister show Bake Off and that is really saying something. It has the same raw emotional narrative of “I am striving to do the thing! I am really trying so hard! But maybe I will fail?!?” that makes Bake Off so compelling, but somehow a little more charm. One of the judges, Keith Brymer Jones, dresses like an old school seaside nightclub entertainer and cries whenever he’s struck by the raw beauty of ceramics. Also, pottery has SO much more scope for innuendo than baking. Go and look of a youtube video of pulling a handle *snigger*.
Don’t Starve (ipad edition)
I kind of hate this game, but I’ve been consistently playing it for four months, so here it is. You play Wilson, a cartoon man abandoned in a wilderness and warned not to starve. Starving isn’t even the half of it! You get left in the dark without a light, you die. You piss off some spiders, they attack you, you die. You steal an egg to attempt to avoid starving, it’s mother pecks you to bloody pieces, you die. FFS! Maddening and compulsive.
Over the last couple of years I have developed a bit of a quiet love for board games, and this is my FAVOURITE AND BEST this year. It’s a deck building game, which means you pick cards to go in your personal stash and they keep coming round. You have to choose wisely and balance their effects so that your end game is not screwed in some way. I LOVE it. Much to Paul’s horror I do not really like Netrunner, a more popular deck building game, because I can’t get my head around the mechanics and I keep losing. Maybe I will have another crack at it as a Christmas treat for him.
Next year I want Pandemic: Legacy, which is about a germ trying to destroy the world and you have to stop it over an epic 13 playthroughs. Sounds AMAZING.
Well, this is lame as all hell, I know. But I spend a lot of time writing, and so word processing is important. This native mac application syncs across devices well, works beautifully on ipad and has a fullscreen mode for laptop and that’s all I really need. Sorry : (
Richard Herring is a longtime favourite of mine and I think his podcast is BLOODY great. It’s the only one I listen to with anything approaching consistency even though yes I have heard This American Life and I agree it’s very good sure, but I like this more. Each week Richard interviews a fellow comedian, who range from people you’ve never heard of to Stephen Fry. This has become a true commuting friend. Start with this week’s, it’s Eddie Izzard and it’s SO good.
The Shock Of The Fall
I realise this was written a while ago, but I only read it pretty recently. This is a wonderful first person account of schizophrenia and a touching, startling story. It is incredibly readable but also surprisingly challenging, which are my two highest criteria in fiction.
The Fair Fight
By Anna Freeman, who I know from Poetry, The Fair Fight is a bloody brilliant novel. An immersive historical fiction set in Bristol’s ladies’ boxing scene, The Fair Fight is beautifully written, gripping and brutal.
This is the inspiration for my latest flurry of blogging, and especially my style. I love Hannah because she is unashamedly eclectic (at time of writing, her two latest posts are a heartfelt account of getting diagnosed with PCOS, and a load of photos of her in party dresses) and also she is incredibly open. I like glossy blogs and I read them and enjoy them, but I firmly feel there is no point in writing on the internet (or anywhere, to be honest) if you will not give a bit of yourself away. I read her every lunchtime while I have my microwaved leftovers and, like all the best lifestyle writers, she’s started to feel like a friend.
Esther Walker used to run my favourite blog, Recipe Rifle, where she’d bitch about her kids for a few hundred words then stick a recipe on the end as an incidental tidbit. I loved it. But then she shut it down (D: D: D:) and started On The Spike, which is also good but I still miss the recipes.
This Pixar offering sounds weird as all hell but it works PERFECTLY. Our protagonists are the emotions living an a little girl’s head. Did you ever read Numskulls in the Beano? It’s like that, but starring Amy Poehler. Touching and funny and incredibly high concept for 8 year olds, an instant classic.
Guys I know it doesn’t look it but this film is SO FUNNY and also scary as hell. I heart Guillermo del Toro for bringing me Pan’s Labyrinth, but even I admit his output is patchy as all hell. This is a true return to form though – deliciously shot and deeply satisfying. I saw it on halloween in a former music hall but if you’re not as much of an arse as me you can get it on dvd from February.
I’ve been reviewing for a local website for a few years now and it’s bloody great. Every week they email you a list of FREE STUFF TO SEE and you just say what you want and you get it! Um, as long as no one else wants it. Anyway, it’s been such a nice way of recapturing that attitude I had as a student that I’d pretty much go to see ANYTHING, because crap music is better than no music – and I think I was right about that.
Check out my favourite (most ridiculously biased) review here.
This definitely deserves a post of its own, but in brief – this year, I have felt comfortable in my body and happy and safe around food for about 90-95% of the time. That is more happy and comfortable and safe than I can ever remember being about this, even in childhood. It costs money and time and you still have to refuse cake, sure, but for me this has genuinely changed things.
I go to a lot of festivals, which means I go to a lot of rubbish festivals. Not enough to do, not enough toilets, rubbish acts, no food choice, can’t find interesting people to hang out with… But because of its size, longevity and iconicness, Glastonbury is the least rubbish festival I’ve ever been to. You don’t really need me to tell you why Glastonbury is brilliant, but all I can say is – if you’re kind of bored of other festivals but you used to love them, give it a crack – it might revive you. In a grouping of tents as big as a city and dedicated entirely to art and fun, it feels like anything can happen.
In the middle of Patti Smith’s Sunday afternoon set, the Dalai Llama came on stage and we all sang him Happy Birthday, swaying along together, a cider in each hand.
Despite the object-heavy nature of this list, obviously the most important thing IS your time with loved ones and staring at the moon. The rest can only support it. Spend money on experiences, I say, not things, if you can.
My iPad Air 2
Such incredible battery life and graphics and I got it in rose gold omfg <3