What I did do on Friday

  • Quite a lot of laundry
  • A couple of hours on the phone to my dad in NZ
  • Grocery shopping (well, grocery and Heavy Rain)
  • Hot smoked salmon salad and Blue Roses on Spotify
  • Brief Encounter and some crying (at the film, not just generally)
  • Ironing and more ironing
  • About half an hour of Heavy Rain and some origami
  • Thai with the original Gin Lovelies and the Husbands & Boyfriends
  • More grocery shopping, this time tipsy

What to do?

I have Friday off (getting rid of some overtime). A whole day to myself with very little planned. I do need to call my dad in the morning and I do need to go to Tesco and I do need to do some tidying and probably make the bed in the spare room for my parents’ visit this weekend.

Other options:

  • Buy Heavy Rain. Play Heavy Rain
  • Watch the rest of Brief Encounter that I recorded last weekend
  • Take myself out for lunch – or arrange to meet someone for lunch…
  • Read a whole book
  • Go to the cinema, see a film and get popcorn (salty mixed with sweet, please)
  • Bake something nice
  • Get a massage / facial

What to do?

Stuck on repeat

I have a particular habit when I’m listening to a new album. I’ll very quickly establish my favourite tracks and subsequently listen to those on repeat…for several weeks, sometimes months. And eventually something will cause me to return to the rest of the album: a song popping up on shuffle, perhaps, or the inability to skip through songs due to a phone call or other interruption. This can sometimes be great, as my first example demonstrates…

First example:

A while ago, I bought the Wild Beasts album, ‘Two Dancers’ on the strength of one song (‘All The King’s Men’) and quickly established my favourite tracks (the aforementioned ‘All The King’s Men’ and ‘We Still Got The Taste Dancing On Our Tongues’). And, as these things inevitably go, I listened to these two records (stopping only to add a third: ‘Hooting & Howling’) on repeat for roughly two months. Until a late night drive home from a gig in Bristol¬†without my iPod forced me to listen to the only CD I could reach from my glovebox… Wild Beasts’ ‘Two Dancers’. Not only is the whole album pretty great but it has just the most awesome track on it that I’d missed all this time! Seriously, ‘This Is Our Lot‘ is just a great, great song.

So, my habit can sometimes lead to happy discoveries. But it’s also frustrating, as my second example shows.

Second example:

Yesterday, I bought the Marina & the Diamonds album. It’s a pretty good pop record. But by the time I was on the bus home from work today, I’d narrowed down the album to my few favourites (‘I Am Not A Robot’, ‘Mowgli’s Road‘, ‘Hollywood’ and ‘The Outsider’) and was listening to nothing else. Previous experience suggests that I will do so eventually but, for the time being, it is really very frustrating. I’ve paid for an album, but force of habit means that I’m getting a fraction of what I’ve paid for. I annoy myself sometimes.

Is this normal behaviour?

A first time for everything

On Saturday evening, we were invited to dinner with our friends James & Gina, who have decided to make more of an effort having friends round – something we should probably do too. Leigh joined us as well and we had a thoroughly good evening, with delicious food and great conversation.

The conversation eventually came round to the fact that Chris has never made a cup of tea from start to finish in his life and that, as someone verging on a hot drink addiction, this pains me somewhat. So, James proposed a tea-making workshop and, under his expert supervision, Chris made me a cracking cup of builder’s tea (because that’s how I like it). Apparently, there were some mysterious ‘shortcuts’ involved but neither party is currently sharing those…

On my love affair with radio

I cannot imagine my life without radio.

As a young teenager, I listened religiously to Dr. Fox’s UK Top 40, stopping and starting my tape cassette player at just the right time to catch my favourite chart songs. Every Sunday. Nothing unusual there. But it developed into a daily obsession as I grew older and began to worship Steve Lamacq, taping instead the increasingly obscure bands I’d read about in Melody Maker and the NME. The highlight of my teenage years was Lamacq reading out my ‘Fantasy Festival’ although I can’t remember the detail of my dream lineup…only that it probably involved the Pixies…probably as headliners.

I stopped listening to Radio 1 a long time ago as I simply can’t cope with the ‘personalities’ that hype up every Next Big Thing with alarming enthusiasm (although I enjoyed Colin Murray towards the end of his R1 stint). I sometimes dabble with 6Music, particularly Guy Garvey’s delightfully charming Sunday night show and Adam & Joe’s delightfully shambolic Saturday mornings. I also listen to Kermode and Mayo’s fabulous film review podcast from BBC 5 Live.

My true love is now Radio 4.

I adore the variety, the fact that I can turn on my beloved DAB radio and hear something interesting, whether or not I’d imagined that I would or could be interested. I like the comedy, the fact that it is smart and sometimes surprising, a far cry from the crude, competitive comedy typified by TV programmes such as Mock The Week. I am constantly bowled over by the ability of certain programmes to move me to tears. I am – I am not ashamed to say – simply hooked on The Archers.

Perhaps the best way to explain it is to describe some of my Radio 4 highlights:

  • ‘Jon Ronson On…’ is never anything less than fascinating, because ordinary people are so fascinating. But it has the most wonderfully creepy quality, like you’re being let in on a secret that you shouldn’t be hearing or that has remained long unspoken. I remember the night I listened to the episode on uncontrollable responses and could barely sleep for the sense of menace I experienced hearing the story of a 7/7 survivor falling foul of conspiracy theorists. Incredible radio. And I’ve just discovered that you can listen to every single episode here.
  • ‘All Bar Luke’ makes me laugh until I cry. The show is all about Tim Key’s high-pitched, nervous giggle which captures beautifully Luke’s utter social ineptness. My Wednesday nights are empty without it.
  • ‘Desert Island Discs’ can be somewhat hit and miss, although I really do love Kirsty Young’s interviewing style, which just gets better every week (I have such a girl crush on Kirsty Young). But when it’s good, it’s very, very good and the recent interview with Mary Portas was a real highlight. Her description of the moment she bumped into her estranged stepmother, who had left her homeless, penniless and with younger siblings in her teenage years was simply heartbreaking.
  • ‘In Our Time’ is another hit and miss programme but one which always challenges and often surprises me. Go on. Search the archive and be amazed by vast array of subjects and knowledge.
  • I have no idea what programme this was on but Radio 4 recently broadcast an interview with a man who had been ‘locked’ in a coma for many many years. I was driving into town and sobbing, it was so terrifying.

I could go on. About Woman’s Hour and Just A Minute and The Archers and the Today Programme and BH and the World Tonight and the Book At Bedtime and Listen Against and Cowards and You & Yours and anything that involves Charlotte Green’s voice and, oh, what’s that programme with the man interviewing people on trains?