As my friend looked down at her perfect little 5 year old daughter, she noticed she was squeezing her thighs. She looked up with concern in her eyes. “Mummy” she said “I’m worried that I’m going to get fat. I don’t want my thighs to get any bigger and I think my tummy is a bit fat too”. So just to remind you, when my friend’s daughter said this, she was 5 years old. 5.
My friend recalled the sick feeling she felt and how suddenly her heart started to beat hard. Whilst, this may have just been a flippant, passing comment, it filled her and me in turn, with dread and sadness. My three biggest fears I have for my daughter? Her safety, being bullied and eating disorders.
Why at 5 years old should a girl’s body shape be of concern to her? Why is she already thinking negatively about her body? And where has she got this attitude from?
In 2011, a report showed that out of 2,000 children treated for eating disorders, 98 were aged between 5-7 years (99 were aged between 8-9 years, 400 aged between 10-12 years and 1,500 aged between 13-15 years). There is as could be predicted, a larger number of girls affected than boys. Nine times as many girls were admitted than boys. The increase of children admitted to hospital with eating disorders from 2003 to 2013 was 172%. More than 90% of them were young girls. This isn’t reflective of what is truly going on as most people with eating disorders are treated in outpatient or private clinics and of course, some people aren’t treated at all. Therefore, the number of children with eating disorders is greater than what we see in reports.
So, this begs the question, what has caused this and what can we do about the disturbing increase of eating disorders in young women and children?
This article in the Guardian, suggests it is children’s exposure to the body images of celebrities. Dr Colin Michie, the chairman of the nutrition committee at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, blamed the constant availability of these images to children has increased eating disorders in them.
Social media can also be blamed. Young people are frequently posting images of themselves on social media for people to “like”. This constant need for the approval of their physical self can create an obsession with their body image, that in some cases could lead to eating disorders.
In 2015, the BBC reported that there was a sharp increase of schoolgirls at risk of emotional problems (where as boys’ risk remained stable). The Scientists behind the study reported that one of the reasons behind this is “a drive to achieve unrealistic body images perpetuated by social media and an increasing sexualisation of young women.”
The only positive aspect to the increase in cases reported is that maybe either more people are seeking help for their disorder or doctors are quicker or better at diagnosing it.
As a child, I never thought about my body shape. I was never concerned with the size of my stomach or shape of my legs. As a teenager, whilst I was obviously more conscious of my body and it’s never-ending changes (and now in my 40s, it’s still changing!), I never gave much thought to my body shape and certainly nothing ever came between me and my love for food (and here I am 20 odd years later and still food is seemingly my top priority. After my daughter of course. Maybe).
So, what was the key factor in my attitude towards my own body as child and teenager? The obvious answer could be, as mentioned above, that there was no social media in my youth and less obsession with celebrities’ bodies. Whilst there was some discourse surrounding famous women’s bodies, it was never at the disturbing levels we see today. I don’t ever remember articles in my Mum’s magazines shaming women about their bodies.
However, I firmly believe the main reason I had a healthy body image was because of my own Mother. I don’t ever remember her complaining about her body or putting herself down. The word “diet’ was never uttered by her. I only remember her once mentioning wanting to exercise more. I also never remember her comparing her body to other women’s bodies or even complimenting other women’s bodies. In fact, once on holiday I remember my brother and I teasing my Mum about her ‘spare tyre’ and my Mum just shrugging and laughing it off. I know, we sounded like such lovely & charming children. The point is my Mum was so outwardly comfortable in her own skin and at ease with her body shape, we could crack these kind of jokes around her. It’s worth noting that my Mother equally encouraged me to clear my dinner plate as much as my brother was and I was congratulated when I did so.
Also, I remember my Mum telling me that she loved her stretch marks on her stomach as they were a reminder of her children and what her marvellous had body achieved.
This is a solid point. Women’s bodies should be celebrated and not shamed. Why are people more willing to do the latter than the former? Whether it’s with regards to other people’s bodies or their own? Why don’t we hear of more New Year’s resolutions about accepting and loving our bodies rather than depriving or punishing them?
From reading and researching various articles on eating disorders in young children and through my own personal experiences, I’ve compiled a list of possible ways to prevent eating disorders in young children.
1. Avoid talking about your own weight and dieting. As mentioned above. It’s a non-brainer. What we vocalise in the home has a huge impact on young ears. Also, when we treat ourselves to a slice of cake, can we stop saying “ooh I know it’s naughty”. Cake is not naughty, it’s bloody delicious. Life is hard, eat the cake. Guilt free.
2. Don’t tease a girl about their body and/or weight. Up to 40% of girls are teased and this can double their risk of being overweight and causing eating disorders.
3. Have plenty of sit down family meals. This one is not always possible everyday, but it’s worth bearing in mind that as parents we are role models and our eating habits can influence our children’s. Personally, I fail doing this in the week, but Friday-Sunday, we always make this obligatory.
4. Explain that images of women in media are unrealistic. We should protect our children from society’s emphasis on body shape and weight. I adore the women on social media who portray their bodies realistically. The model Charli Howard who is the founder of the All Woman Project is a fantastic role model for young women. She describes herself as a body positive activist and her Instagram account features numerous realistic and untouched photos of her showing off her lumps, bumps and cellulite. She actively encourages women to learn to love all of their ‘squishy bits’ and how normal the imperfect body is. She openly talks about the misery that starving her body to be a size 6 brought her in the past and her All Woman Project works with schools running events and workshops for young girls. Another great role model for younger girls is the radio DJ Lilah Parson, who has a refreshing and healthy attitude towards her body and food. When asked recently if she was content with her body, she answered “Yes, I’m very content. I know what clothes work for my body and I’m happy and healthy. We don’t all have to look like Victoria’s Secret models. We put far too much pressure on ourselves” When she was asked what she liked about her body, she was easily able to list a few things. When she was asked to list what she didn’t like, she just answered that she tries not to be negative about her body. How wonderful to hear a young woman talk confidently about her body and with absolutely no shame. This is how it should be. In fact, women like Charli and Lilah aren’t just role models for young women, they’re role models for all women.
5. Never mention if you think a celebrity or person has a good body. This can encourage a child or young woman to compare their body with the so-called ideal body shape and it also compounds the idea that a woman’s body shape or weight is imperative.
Recently, a documentary film has been made about women’s body called Embrace (more information about this film can be found here). This is the word I have always used in association with becoming happy with one’s body. We should all embrace our bodies for what they are. Whatever their shape, size, colour, abilities or disabilities are.
For all of us to try and achieve the homogenised “ideal” body shape is utterly ridiculous, a waste of time and energy and downright dangerous.
I know too many women that have suffered from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. I guarantee that if a woman hasn’t suffered from an eating disorder they will know more than one woman that has. And now, we are witnessing an increase in eating disorders in children, this madness, this attitude towards are own bodies HAS to stop.
Love your body, it’s the only one you’ll ever get. Love your bumps, your lumps, its imperfections. Embrace your body, not just for yourself, but for our all the little girls who will grow up to be beautiful women, whatever their shape.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Charli Howard:
“This can be the year that you choose to kick old habits; this can be the year you embrace your true shape, stop giving a shit about dieting and calories and choose to be happy. Eat what you want, love your squishy bits, step away from the scales (and bad boys) and don’t let anyone or anything make you feel you’re less than perfect. I’m off to cook a hearty roast dinner with my family because I don’t give a fuck about my weight anymore and neither should you bad bitches”.
Despite its many faults (and I ain’t just talking about the rain), Britain has many strengths and I’ve always considered our humour to be its best (along with fish ‘n’ chips, how charitable we are, our Paralympics team and David Attenborough. Obvs). We are hilarious and nobody finds us as funny as we find ourselves. It’s not often us Brits can have a conversation without subtly (or even obviously) throwing a bit of humour in. In fact, if a conversation has continued for more than 5 minutes without anything humorous having been uttered then we start to break out in a cold sweat and somebody had better mutter something self-deprecating or joke about tits and willies before all hell breaks loose and British society implodes (this isn’t an exaggeration. Trust me).
The British Sitcom is an almost poetic portrayal of our unique humour. Yes, we love our irony and how can I put this- ‘piss-taking’, but our humour is often steeped in humanity and good old fashioned silliness. So, here is my list of my all time favourite British sitcoms. I’ve provided clips or a compilation of clips for each entry too for you to enjoy. Our favourite sitcoms are a very personal thing, so much so, I fully expect people to exclaim that they can’t believe I haven’t included this sitcom or that sitcom in my list or that I put a certain sitcom above another one, but it’s MY list and you know, you’ll just have to find a way of coping (Seriously though I would love to hear which are your favourites too). Deciding which of the plethora of excellent British sitcoms make my top ten has not been easy and I could have easily have done a top twenty.
Please be assured there is NO Mrs Brown’s Boys in this top 10.
(It is my no.11 though)*
10. Toast of London (2012-?)
There was an article written about Toast of London, entitled ‘The Funniest Sitcom That Nobody is Watching” and it is indeed strangely an undiscovered gem, so many have yet to unearth. If you want a wonderfully silly British sitcom, then here is a perfect example of one. Steven Toast is an old-fashioned, failing, middle-aged actor. It features an abundance of guest stars (John Hamm, Michael Ball, an alcoholic Peter Davison and not to mention a dodgy John Nettles) and is my most recent sitcom to feature on this list. So, if you haven’t watched it, I thoroughly recommend you correct this unfortunate error. The highlight of this show is when Toast’s world clashes with the world of the hipsters that he does his voice recordings with, so I’ve selected a clip which illustrates this nicely, with the great Clem Fandango for you.
9. The Young Ones (1982-1984)
My Mum wouldn’t let me watch The Young Ones when it was first on TV (I guess I was only 6-8 years old, but I do remember begging her to no avail once). However, she did my brother and I the Comic Relief single that they did with Cliff Richard (which is, incidentally, the best Comic Relief single to date). At 15, when I became obsessed with Bottom (the TV show starring Rik Mayall & Adrian Edmondson, not people’s posteriors) and maybe in some kind of defiance, I bought and absolutely loved the Young Ones double VHS. I loved its maniacal style and post-punk insanity that rarely made much sense. It all ended perfectly with them driving themselves off of a “Cliff”. Please excuse my Rik Mayall (I loved him) indulgence with the following clip.
8. The Royale Family (1998-2012)
Here is a sitcom that one minute will have you crying with laughter and then sobbing your heart out the next. We all remember the beautiful scene where Barbara brushes her ailing Mum’s Hair or the scene when Jim sits on the bathroom floor with Denise mid-labour, don’t we? Caroline Aherne was an extraordinary talent. She seemed to know how to make us all both laugh and cry in equal measure. The key to the Royale Family is its ordinariness and its familial charm. Here’s a clip of the perfect marital argument over the TV remote control.
7. Fawlty Towers (1975-1979)
Basil Fawlty was the perfect role for John Cleese. Nobody could’ve played the permanently disgruntled hotel manager on the brink of a breakdown as well as him. Not to mention his perfect physical comedy skills. His on-screen partnership with Prunella Scales as his wife, Sybil was outstanding. The pair seemed so utterly wrong for each other, it was a wonder what they saw in each other in the first place. This wonderfully farcical (and I usually hate farces) sitcom, always seemed very theatrical to me and it is of no surprise that it has now been turned into a stage show. Please enjoy this clip of Basil reaching the end of his tether yet again and Sybil not caring (yet again). A fine example of why Sybil Fawlty will always be my hero.
6. Blackadder (1982-1989)
This historical sitcom written by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, was hugely popular and featured a magnificent cast of some of our best comedy actors. An observation of Blackadder that I’ve only noticed in reason years, is how bloody sexy Blackadder was. Who could resist the ruff-clad Blackadder or the would-be-deserter Captain Blackadder? Not I now, clearly. We all remember the devastatingly poignant final moments of the final episode. They’re etched in my mind from when I first watched it with my family at 13 years old. I can still hear the whistles and Baldrick’s last claim that he has a cunning plan. I also remember Blackadder warning Hugh Laurie not to forget his stick just before they go over the top (“No, I wouldn’t want to face a machine gun without my stick” he replied). However, I wanted to show you a pure comedy clip from Blackadder and I’m sorry (completely not sorry), but my love for Rik Mayal prevails, so here’s another clip with him in for you.
5. Father Ted (1995-1998)
“Oh, but it’s an Irish sitcom”, I hear you cry. Well, I do see your point as it stars an Irish cast, was written by two Irish writers and was filmed in Ireland, BUT it is technically a British sitcom as it was made by a British television company for a British TV channel, so it’s in my top 10, so there. The genius of this show lies in Dermot Morgan playing the straight man in his role of Father Ted Crilly. The frustrations endured by his character only highlight the daftness of all the characters that surround him; the childlike and dim (but strangely sexy) Father Dougal, the perpetually inebriated Father Jack (DRINK) and the slightly unhinged Mrs Doyle (ah g’wan Father).
4. Black Books (2000-2004)
So bookshop owner, Bernard Black spends his days drinking wine, reading books and trying to ignore people. In conclusion, he’s essentially living the life I want to live. He also has a pet Manny running around doing chores for him, which is also a life goal of mine. C’mon, we could all do with a pet Manny in our lives. Black Books is set in Bloomsbury, London and considering Black’s lack of desire for customers it is a wonder how it ever managed to stay in business. Black Books won the BAFTA for best sitcom twice and features cameos from lots of the UK’s brightest sitcom stars of the time (Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes, Nick Frost, Peter Serafinowicz, Omid Djalili, Lucy Davis, Olivia Coleman and so on). Oh and did anyone else fancy Bernard Black? Just me? And what is it with me and male sitcom actors?
3. The Office (2001-2003)
What an absolute joy watching copious amounts of funny clips from the Office was. Choosing just one one was very difficult, but an excellent reminder of how funny it was. Whatever your feelings are of Ricky Gervais, I still stand by the opinion that he and Stephen Merchant were comedy writing geniuses. I’m a fan of both the British and American versions of this sitcom, but the British version is less sentimental and essentially more difficult to watch. The cringe-factor is far higher and I think it is better for it. David Brent is also a less likeable character than Michael Scott. Here illustrates the genius of Gervais and Merchant, they even manage to make an unlikeable character such as Brent likeable (it’s ok I do realise how much I’ve contradicted myself here, but bear with). You feel so much affection for this absolute dickhead. He’s literally my favourite dickhead. I would’ve even liked him as a boss. Just think of the fun you’d have had with your colleagues, mocking him behind his back. Of course I’m not one to condone such behaviour. Ahem. So here’s Brent being an absolute twat. As per. Bless him.
2. I’m Alan Partridge (1997-2002)
Talking about loveable twats, here’s another one for you. Oh Alan with your monotone voice, late night radio show, v-neck jumpers, dated hair do, questionable TV show ideas, who’s best friend is a roadside hotel barman and with your dire social skills- I love you. Partridge’s life is so empty yet full of unfortunate events and badly handled circumstances. Much like The Office, it makes you cringe at the way Partridge tries to endure life. We need characters like Partridge to remind ourselves that we’re not doing so badly ourselves and that at the very least we would have dealt with life’s blows better than Alan would have. I thank you for this Alan. At least I’m not you. At least I don’t have “Cook Pass Babtridge” written in spray paint on the side of my car.
So here it is, my all time favourite British sitcom. Much like others on my list (Fawlty Towers, The Office, The Young Ones and I’m Alan Partridge), Spaced only ran for two seasons. Two faultless seasons. Spaced was written about two people and their friends in their twenties. It was on TV at a time when myself and my friends were also in our twenties. It very much felt like Simon Pegg & Jessica Stevenson (now Hynes) had watched my friends and I, and decided to write a sitcom about us. All of the characters in this sitcom are so strong, but my favourite will always be Marsha- my spirit animal. The cinematic style, heavy cultural referencing and hilarious script cemented its popularity and left diehard fans wanting more after it ended after two seasons. I still miss it.
The one that almost made it:The Day Today (1994)
A spoof of British news broadcasting, I think now more than ever, we need the return of the Day Today. Please Chris Morris. Please. If you loved this program, here’s a rather obvious pick, but perpetually brilliant scene with Steve Coogan.
Before we get into this, let me just clarify a few things.
I am a parent.
My child has a scooter.
My child loves scootering.
I let her scooter frequently.
This is not an altogether anti-scooter piece.
I fucking HATE scooters.
In particular when scooters are allowed on busy pavements or on the school-run. Stay with me parents-who-let-their-children-scoot-on-the-school-run. I have no beef with it if they have to walk a long way and scootering is the only way some parents can get their little darling to go the distance. It’s especially fine, if they’re considerate enough to make said child/children get off their scooters once they get near the busy pavements by the school gate. I’m totally here for considerate scootering. However, it is not fine when children on scooters are weaving between hordes of people at potentially 25mph on the pavement. It is also not fine when children are so far ahead of their parents on scooters, the parents can’t really see if they’re knocking into people.
Here is the Oxford dictionary definition of the word pavement: A raised paved or asphalted path for pedestrians at the side of a road.
Here is the Oxford dictionary definition of the word pedestrian: A person walking.
Now I’m not about to suggest that children should be scootering in the road.
(Or am I?)
No…maybe…NO, I’m definitely not, BUT if a child knocks into me at speed whilst I’m WALKING on the PAVEMENT one more time, then well, I’ll probably just mumble under my breath or say something passive aggressive, but you get my point.
There is also, the danger aspect. I have seen children speed into roads on their scooters without really looking or if they have been taught to stop and wait for Mummy before crossing (kudos for this at least) then they stop so suddenly that if you’re unlucky enough to be behind them, you almost fall over them.
Also (nope I ain’t finished yet), if one lets one’s child scooter everywhere a) have they got one leg weaker than the other? b) if they’re not regularly walking to places on their own two feet, is this not detrimental to the development of both their muscles and mental approach to walking?
I have veritably seen a parent park their car, get their child out of the car, pass the child a scooter and let the child scoot no more than 20 steps to the entrance of a building. Is it an actuality that the child couldn’t have coped walking those few steps to the entrance of the building? This was also on a busy street plus the child fell off the scooter in front of me and almost knocked me over (relax, the child was fine, but that isn’t important right now).
Worst of all, are the (albeit minority of) parents who allow their children to freely scoot through the school gates and around the school playground with no regards to anyone else. It’s the attitude being perpetuated that WALKING PEDESTRIANS had better move out of the way as a child on a scooter is coming through. For me, a busy school playground is not the place to do this. It’s crowded, lots of people are walking in all different directions, toddlers are toddling about and playgrounds contain adults and children alike with different mobility issues.
Arguments I’ve heard in favour of letting your child scoot everywhere include:
“It’s healthy exercise”. Yes it is, but do you know what else is healthy exercise for your kids? FUCKING WALKING.
“It’s fun”. Correct, but do you know what else is fun? Space hoppers. Shall we let out children space-hop into school too?
“It’s helps get them to school on time”. Tough one. I don’t know, maybe…try…GETTING UP 5 MINUTES EARLIER.
Other reasons to hate scooters; I hate the way they swing round and whack you in the shins when you try to pick them up.
Also, thank God I don’t live in London anymore as some actual grown up actual adulting adults are choosing scooters as a form of transport to get to work on. I mean ACTUAL adult human beings. Scootering. To work. KILL THEM WITH FIRE.
There’s a time and a place for scooters and it’s not on busy streets, it’s not in school playgrounds and it’s not on the way to bloody work (you gigantic, inconsiderate adult-babies). People walking on the pavement should always have priority.
Right, now I’ve clearly turned into Mary Whitehouse, I’m off to complain to the council about people parking badly (I’m not even vaguely joking, readers).
See I’m not all bad, I even let my own child scooter sometimes. (NB: This is an old picture, she’s about 900yrs old now).
I’m not exaggerating when I say that music was the most important thing in my life when I was a teenager. More important than school, more important than my fast-developing body and yes even more important than my Mum’s macaroni cheese (mate, that is really saying something). Every week I had the NME, Melody Maker and Smash Hits delivered, as well as going out and buying Select, Vox and Record Mirror magazines (yeah I got a discount at the newsagents I worked at thankfully). Whilst my brother was eating, sleeping and breathing football, I was doing the same with music. It’s safe to say that music plays an important role in the socialisation of adolescents. When you think of your teenage years, you will most likely have a soundtrack that accompanies it. After seeing a friend list her favourite albums from her teenage years on Facebook, I started to consider which would be mine. Every time I thought of an album, I realised sometimes its influence on me was possibly far more important than it’s musical credibility. Therefore, these albums aren’t necessarily the best albums of my teenage years or even my favourites, but they are the albums that influenced me the most and helped shape me. Some were released before I was a teenager, but were albums that I discovered and listened to a lot in my teen years. I’ve included a Spotify playlist at the end of the best songs from each album.
Raw Like Sushi by Neneh Cherry (1989)
Neneh (remember, it rhymes with henna) was the first act to get me into hip hop music (ok I was rather partial to Walk this Way by Run DMC before then) from there I embraced the sounds of De La Soul (technically the hippies of hip-hop because they had some flowers on their album cover), Monie Love and Queen Latifah. Yes, the creme de la creme of late-80’s/early 90’s hip hop. Is this the right time to mention, that I loved Betty Boo too? Moving on…
So, I was beyond excited when on Christmas day I was presented with the Raw Like Sushi LP by my parents. I spent the rest of the day locked in my room, ignoring my family and playing the album over and over again.
A common theme with some of these albums that soundtracked my teenage years, is that both myself and my friends were equally obsessed with them. Raw Like Sushi is one of them. We would sit in each other’s bedrooms listening to it whilst “rapping” along (have you ever heard a group of 13/14 year old girls from Oxfordshire rapping? We sounded goooood). So, altogether now:
“who’s that gigolo on the street, with his hands in his pocket and his crocodile feet, hanging off the curb, looking all disturbed, at the boys from home, they all come running….”
“Chocolates, bananas, doughnuts and salami, ain’t gonna fit cos you’re full of bologna”.
Ooh nice burn, Neneh.
I remember reading an interview with Neneh in Smash Hits magazine (greatest magazine of all time) and talking about her hatred for Margaret Thatcher. Whilst, it probably wasn’t a radical point of view, it felt radical to me at that age, to hear one of my idols talk about our country leader in that way. Also, remember the storm that erupted when Neneh performed on Top of the Pops heavily pregnant? One newspaper denounced her and claimed performing whilst pregnant was bad for the unborn child. This was less than 30 years ago. I don’t believe she was trying to make a big political statement. Rather, she was just a woman who happened to be pregnant and was just “getting on with things” and I absolutely loved her for it.
I still love Neneh and have bought every album she’s produced since, but nothing will top the glorious Raw Like Sushi.
Favourite song: Buffalo Stance
Everything by Bangles
Many of you will probably remember slow dancing to Eternal Flame at the school disco with Aaron Taylor who later on that evening gifted you with the chewing gum from his mouth as you snogged by the bins*. But for me the Bangles and this album meant so much more than a slushy song one would exchange saliva to.
Imagine it’s 1989 and you’re a teenage girl that wants to be in a band with your girlfriends and you want to play your own instruments and write your own songs. Imagine that you look at the charts and your only female role models available are mainly female pop singers that have songs written for them. Then you see the Bangles on Top of the Pops doing exactly what you want to do. Here began my love/obsession with them.
I loved everything about them. Their music (I remember telling my Mum that I thought Eternal Flame was the most beautiful song I had ever heard. I was 13 okay! Leave me alone. God), their clothes ( you have no idea how many charity and vintage clothes shops I trawled trying to imitate their style), their harmonies and yes even the hair (I dreamed of having pillar box red hair a la bassist, Michael Steele). I did go on to form my own band with my girlfriends. We used to sit in each other’s bedrooms writing teen angst poetry and trying to put the words to music along with very bad guitar playing. We were awful. Then I went on to join a Bowie covers band. We were also awful and that was the end of my band member career. However, the dream of being in a band all started with my love for the Bangles. I still love them today, but I’m not sure if that’s just with nostalgic affection for the 13/14 year old me or whether I actually think they’re any good.
Favourite song: Something to Believe in
The Cole Porter Songbook by Ella Fitzgerald
Perusing my best friend’s parents’ CD collection (being the nosey cow that I am, I always did/still do this when I spot a music collection in someone’s home), I came across a couple of Ella Fitzgerald CDs of her singing Cole Porter. After much begging, my friend agreed to put these albums on for me (at the time she would have much rather listened to Carter USM). I already had one Ella album, but was desperate to hear her sing Porter. I wasn’t disappointed. This album started my infatuation with all the greatest American Jazz singers (Billie, Dinah et al), but it was Ella’s voice that captured me the most. Her effortless, natural vocal style (or as my Gran would say “she can sing lying down that one”) had a huge impact on my own vocal style. I would spend hours in my bedroom trying to emulate Ella’s voice. Needless to say it was a futile effort, as no one would ever be able to get anywhere near her talent and perfect sound, but her style would influence my singing forever.
Favourite song: Too Darn Hot
Screamadelica by Primal Scream
By 1992, my love of all things Indie was in full flow. I spent the whole summer with my best mate Ange discussing Blur in great lengths (she was in love with Damon, I was in love with Alex), accidentally starting fires in the local park and debating who would die first if we tried to strangle each other at the same time (no, we weren’t very bright teenagers). We also spent most evenings in the pub hanging out with a group of ‘boys who loved music’. The band that united them the most as a group of friends was Primal Scream. It was these friends that “introduced” me to Primal Scream. I say “introduced’ lightly as it was more like “barked-at-me-until-I-relented”. However, I was very pleased that they did. I’ve never been a fan of people telling what I should or shouldn’t be listening to, but this time these friends were right. This was one of the first albums, that I would just lie on my bed and listen to without moving or having to do anything else, other than enjoy it. I found it (and still do) an almost meditative album. I went to see Primal Scream live at Glastonbury. Myself and my tiny friends (we were all 5’4″ and under) practically got crushed and had to leave after the first song. I had scratches down my legs, one friend lost her watch that her parents gave her for her Birthday and another friend had a panic attack. For years after, the words “Primal Scream” were muttered with contempt (because it was obviously, completely their fault we thought standing in the middle of the crowd would be a good idea for us) by all of us, but secretly I would still listen to my Screamadelica album alone, my love for it resilient to our traumatic experience of trying to see it live.
Favourite song: Higher Than the Sun
Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos
As I got ready for school, cleansing my face with Anne French cleanser, spraying myself with a suffocating amount of Exclamation! perfume and listening to Simon Mayo do the breakfast show on Radio 1, I remember stopping everything that I was doing when he put a record on by Tori Amos called “Silent All These Years”. I quickly decided it was the best song that I had ever heard (yes even better than Eternal Flame) and bought the Little Earthquake album as soon my savings from my part-time job would allow. Then there was very little else that I did with my time other than listen to it and wish that one day I would be as good as a songwriter as Tori. This album imbues rawness and bravery, from the eeriness of Me & a Gun (written about Tori’s traumatic ordeal of being raped) to the sexually overt Leather to the many songs that reflected her childhood (Mother, Winter, Tear in Your Hand). This was an album that an abundance of teenage girls in the 90’s (and beyond) turned to as their anthem. It is one of a handful of albums from my teen years that I still listen to and genuinely enjoy today (and obviously sing along to at the top of my voice as I still know all of the lyrics).
Favourite song: Winter
Help! by the Beatles (1965)
I’ve documented my love for the Beatles in this blog here, but it was the Help! album that first made me fall love with the Beatles. I bought this album after watching the insane Help! film with my friends (yes it was this same film that made me fall in love with Ringo. I’ve always loved an underdog me). Whilst, this may not be my favourite Beatles album, it has some of my favourite Beatles tracks on it (Help!, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, Ticket to Ride and I’ve Just Seen a Face). I still absolutely love the Beatles to this day and it all started with this album. Do read my above blog on the Beatles if you’re a fan or want to read more.
Favourite song: Help!
Dry by PJ Harvey (1992)
“Let’s listen to this John Peel session then”, I said to myself at almost 16 years old, which basically meant “let’s change my life forever”. The moment I heard Water, I sat up alarmed, like my brain and ears had heard music that I’d been waiting for all my life. The very next day I ran to my local, independent music shop (which closed down in the 90s, but last year, a truly wonderful thing happened and it opened back up again in exactly the same spot) and bought the Dry album. Then started my life-long love of PJ Harvey that has not waned in the slightest. Every PJ Harvey gig that I went to in my teens, made me love her even more. From the nervous girl from Yeovil on stage at Glastonbury with her one earring, to the woman clad in a red dress and leopard print fur coat and shades at the Forum, to the absolutely awesome Polly in her pink jump suit, black bra and blue eye shadow completely owning the Pyramid stage, she continued to entertain, enthral and bring me joy throughout my teenage years and beyond.
It’s hard for me to articulate what PJ Harvey means to me, but know this, she is very special to me and this album will be part of me forever.
Favourite song: Dress
Like a Prayer by Madonna (1989)
Raw Like Sushi was not the only LP that I played in my bedroom over and over again on Christmas Day, 1989. Yes, not only did my parents present me with one LP, but they laid two in my palm. Double excitement!
Now before this album was released, I was already a Madonna fan. I had already learnt the lyrics to Like a Virgin off by heart, singing the song over and over without really knowing what I was singing about. My best mate & I were already obsessed with the True Blue album, drawing the conclusion that Papa Don’t Preach, La Isla Bonita and Live to Tell were some of the best pop songs every written (on reflection we were probably right) and I had of course as any self respecting girl of my age, tried to dress like her in Desperately Seeking Susan, but it was with Like a Prayer that I become a Madonna fan 4life.
I remember the excitement and buzz that surrounded the release of the Like a Prayer single and its accompanying video (I also remember staying up late one night and watching the Word where it showed a clip of the video reversed, that proved in actual FACT Madonna is singing “hear us, save us Satan”. I mean there’s absolutely no way that’s bollocks, right?). So, like Raw Like Sushi by the end of Christmas day, I had pretty much learned all of the lyrics. I also felt, I had established a deep understanding of Madonna’s inner psyche. I mean, Till Death do us Part is totally about her and Sean Penn and Promise to Try is totally about her Mum dying and that. I had her sussed and I actually thought I was probably the only person who had ever made these connections (despite the fact she went on to deny there were any autobiographical grounds to Like a Prayer. Does she think we’re stupid? Answer: probably).
It’s not unusual for a woman my age to have long-lasting love for Madonna. I’ve stuck by her through thick and thin. However, our relationship has been tested at times (see Hard Candy and Swept Away– fuck it- most of her films).
Many people don’t get her and some seem to hate her with an inexplicable passion. I don’t think I’m sticking my neck out (though I am generalising) when I say most of the time it’s straight men that don’t like her (and don’t they just love to tell you about it. That and the fact they don’t find her sexually attractive. It’s ok, I’ll make sure she gets the memo, guys. I mean, how dare a hugely successful woman show her face within the public sphere when you don’t fancy her). However, it cannot be denied that her cultural impact has been monumental. Some claim she is the greatest gay icon of all time. She has undeniably helped liberate female sexuality and the amount she has raised for AIDS charities is nothing short of admirable.
Favourite song: Like a Prayer
Rhythm Nation 1814 by Janet Jackson (1989)
When Janet Jackson released this album she said that through her music, she wanted to capture the attention of a younger audience who may have been unaware of what it meant to be socially conscious. This is exactly what she achieved with me with this concept album released in 1989, covering subjects such as racism, poverty, and education. At 13yrs old, I had to look up in the dictionary the meaning for some of the words that Jackson introduced me to, such as ‘prejudice’ and ‘bigotry’. Yes, that is how naive and ignorant I must’ve been, not forgetting privileged. Listening to this album on repeat made me quickly realise this.
Whilst, some of the songs have dated and don’t sound as great as they did when I was a teenager, there are still many fantastic songs (Rhythm Nation, Miss You Much, Black Cat, Escapade). The amount of time I spent in my bedroom trying to copy and perfect all of Janet’s dance moves to this album, I think we can all agree, were in no way wasted. I even created a stage show using the music and dance routines from this album. In my head.
Then there was the accompanying film that featured three songs from the album and told the story of two boys who pursued their dream of a musical career which was then destroyed by substance abuse and addiction (it was a fun film). I remember making my Dad sit down and watch it with me to which his response was probably along the lines of “yes very good, I better get on wth planting the runner beans now”. Still, it all added to my light bulb moment that “gosh not everyone has had the same chances as me. How thoroughly unfair”.
Janet Jackson was the first woman ever to be nominated for a Grammy for best producer, with Rhythm Nation 1814 and the album received much critical acclaim. She expected the social consciousness of the album to have a negative effect on album sales, but the album has sold over 12 million copies worldwide and was the biggest selling album in 1990 in America. Sadly, the issues that Jackson wrote about on Rhythm Nation 1814 makes the album still very relevant today.
Favourite Song: Rhythm Nation
Please enjoy this photo of my school art folder from 1990, that I recently recovered from my parents’ attic. On it, I have scribbled lyrics from Rhythm Nation 1814 and other great “artist’s” names on it. Hold on -wtf- when did I ever like U2?! I’m not even slightly embarrassed by my love for Wilson Philips though. That just makes perfect sense.
Modern Life is Rubbish by Blur (1993)
I’d played my Leisure LP to death, I was already in love with Alex James (don’t judge me), I was even one of three people who bought the Popscene single. When I went to my first Blur gig (not at a festival) at Fulham Gardens, we somehow gatecrashed their aftershow party at the Maison Rouge recording studios down the road. After drinking the free bar dry, I accosted Damon and told him how the song ‘Sing‘ from the Leisure album was my all time favourite song. He seemed disappointed in this. “Fine’ he said “but it’s our new music you should be interested in. You need to get on board with it. We’re going in a different direction and it’s going to be massive”. So, when I stumbled out of the recording studies at midnight like (actually not even vaguely like) an indie-Cinderella giddy with excitement, my mind was reeling with the prospect of Blur’s new album. Then, THEN the announcement came that they were to release a new single and album. I remember in the hour long lunch break I had at my college in Henley where I was doing my A-levels, I ran to the train station and got the train to Reading. I then ran from the train station in Reading to HMV, picked up my reserved copy of For Tomorrow, ran back to the station, got the train back to Henley, ran back to college and spent the afternoon not being able to concentrate in class knowing that I had the new Blur single in my bag. I then sat on the bus home at the end of the day, clutching and staring at the single with much anticipation and excitement. When I got home, I no doubt ignored my Mother, ran upstairs and played the single over and over again. I went from being a Blur fan to an obsessed Blur fan. A Blur loyalist if you will. A week later the album was released and I was forever in love with Blur. I bought ‘Modern Life is Rubbish‘ t-shirts and wore them with pride as I served in my local newsagent to the mirth of men who had clearly lived through the second world war and thought it was hilarious that I thought modern life was in fact rubbish. When they asked me why I thought it was rubbish, I thought it was wise not to just say “because Damon Albarn said so & he’s so pretty”, so I just mumbled something about computers.
Then, as luck would have it, posters appeared all over my college announcing that Blur were doing a warm-up gig for their Sugary Tea tour, in of all places- the night club Washington Heights in Reading (or as we liked to cleverly call it- Washington Shites). Queue more running and train journeys to Reading and back to buy tickets for the most hotly anticipated gig of my life (there was a lot of running involved for me when it came to music). Me and my three other Blur loyalist friends went to the gig and again forced ourselves into their aftershow party where (and I cringe as I write this, but it’s almost cathartic for me and maybe it will encourage other people to confess their embarrassing 90’s indie stories) I presented Alex with a poem I had written for him about stars. Oh yes. Yes, I actually did that. Now, I know I’m no Patti Boyd, but on Blur’s following album Alex did write a song for it about…stars. I know, the coincidence is too much, but I’ll happily take credit for Alex’s creative input into Parklike. You’re welcome.
We then followed them for most of the Sugary Tea tour, always standing at the front (but to one side to avoid being totally crushed. We’d learnt that valuable lesson since Primal Scream) at every gig. I even won a Melody Maker competition to interview them before their gig in Brighton (I asked them how much sugar they took in their tea. Just call me Kate Adie). This album out of all of the above albums was the most influential for me as a teenager. It made me love the country I lived in, it made me ask questions (and not just about sugary tea), it widened my music taste, and I’d even go as far to say that it made me want more out of my life. I guess you could say in many ways, it made my life definitely less rubbish, which kind of contradicted the whole album theme, I suppose.
Favourite song: For Tomorrow
The Albums That Almost Made It:
Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1. by George Michael (1990). Best song: The Stevie Wonder cover, They Won’t Go When I Go (There is not one bad song on this record. Also, ohmyGod George’s voice on this record)
Germfree Adolescents by X-Ray Spex (1978). Favourite song: Identity (Poly Styrene was a hero)
Bostin’ Steve Austin by We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna to Use it (1986). Favourite song: What’s the Point? (I wanted to be in punk days-Fuzzbox so badly. They always looked like they were having so much fun. Also, hair.)
So, that’s my most influential albums as a teenager. What were yours and why?
Some of the original LPs that I used to play in my bedroom as a teenager.
Glossing over the almighty cock-up with the best film announcement and making this a yearly tradition, here’s my collection of favourite outfits from this year’s Oscars.
Chrissy Teigen the queen of Twitter, took command of the red carpet in this gorgeous number.
Viola Davis always gets it right at award ceremonies and picked up her best supporting female actor Oscar in this stunning red dress.
Isabelle Huppert was up for best female actor in a leading role and defined ageless elegance in this sparkling outfit.
Taraji P. Henson starred in Hidden Figures, but there was no hiding her amazing figure in this va-va-voom velvet dress.
Karlie Kloss is a supermodel and looks amazing in this all in white Stella McCartney number.
Ruth Negga the Irish actress and Loving star was up for best female leading role and carried this red outfit off perfectly. She along with other red carpet stars teamed their outfits with a blue ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) ribbon. More information on the ACLU can be found here.
Auli’i Carvalho played the lead role in the excellent Disney film Moana and she looks beautiful in this white, gold lined dress
Dev Patel and his Mum Could DP get any cuter and dashing? Well yes, when he takes his Mum to the Oscars with him, he certainly can. Both of them looked joyfully fabulous.
Sunny Pawar the super cute 8 year old Indian actor and star of Lion gets my award for best dressed male.
After last week’s post, I wanted to do something lighthearted, so just for you I’ve created a bumper playlist of all my favourite love songs to celebrate the most unnecessary annual celebration. There’s 75 of them, so it should keep you going whilst you smooch and whisper sweet nothings into each other’s ears. Or if you’re like me, ignore your partner whilst you watch TV/play on your phone and stuff your face full of chocolates that you texted him to remind him to buy on his weary journey home from work. Aah who said romance is dead?
It’s an eclectic mix. As I’m a super sophisticated soul, there’s plenty of trash, some not-so-trash and some definitely-not-trash. There’s no Bryan Adams or Meatloaf, but I can’t promise that it’s Mariah-free. The strongest is moment is when it goes from Ella Fitzgerald into the Muppets.
Enjoy and remember love lifts you up where you belong and love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love. Or something.
Do you remember when we went to see Trainspotting when it first came out in 1996? We were a mere 20 years old and we went to see it at the Trocadero at the end of one of the best weekends of my life. I was living in Oxford at the time and I came to stay with you for the weekend in London. We spent the whole day drinking on Saturday with our friend Dan. The night ended with you & Dan bursting into the room I was sleeping in, singing and dancing to the Macarena and collapsing on my bed. Most people would’ve found this hugely irritating and would’ve barked at you both to piss off and leave them to sleep. But no, I just found this hugely amusing, hugged you both, waved you off as you exited (still mid-Macarena) and I fell back to sleep with a smile on my face. Then on Sunday we spent the day at Notting Hill Carnival. I know traditionally people are meant to scoff at the carnival, but I genuinely had one of the best days of my life roaming the streets of Notting Hill, fast becoming friends with people we’d never met before whilst dancing to jungle and drum ‘n’ bass with them. I remember the three of us hugging and drinking on the ground late in the evening and me thinking that I couldn’t possibly be happier. The next day, on the bank holiday before I got the bus home, we spontaneously decided to go to the cinema and watch Trainspotting. This film that so many people had been raving about. At the end of the film, I remember the two of us being in some kind of stunned silence. I remember my heart beating so hard. At the time, I don’t think I could’ve loved a film more. We left the cinema gabbling over the top of each with excitement. Trainspotting had a huge impact on us. Then, I remember very sadly saying goodbye to you and to our weekend.
Well Stephen, Trainspotting 2 or T2 is out now in the cinema. I am filled with so much excitement about it and cannot wait to go and see it. I know sitting there and watching it, I will be thinking of you. I’ve heard people say that watching T2 made them feel very nostalgic. So, when I go to see T2 and considering the nostalgia that it will unearth, made me think of you again. It made me wonder how we could have lost contact. How could I lose contact with my friend that had such a huge influence on my life and who I am today. My friend that I shared so many ridiculously fun times with.
I can never truly fathom how two such close friends can lose contact, but every year we would both move house or in my case seemingly to a different city. The internet didn’t really exist then and not many people had mobile phones, so I guess it was much easier to lose contact with friends that you didn’t live near to. When we first stopped living near each other, I would always make my yearly phone call to your lovely Mum and we’d always have a friendly chat and she would give me your new number. However, I suppose over time, I was embarrassed to keep bothering her. I of course wish more than anything that I had. Every year since we lost contact, I would search the internet hoping to find you or some reference to you. How could someone who was so sociable and had so many friends not exist anywhere on the internet? I know it happens, some people just have no desire for social media, but for some reason it just didn’t sit easily with me that you were one of them.
Finally, this year coinciding with the release of T2 and my memories of you and us, I decided to do one final search for you. I was determined to make contact with you again. Out of all my friends that I have lost contact with over the years, you are the one I always regretted losing contact with the most. I searched for your Mum on Facebook, not with the idea of contacting her, but with the hope there would be some mention of you on her page. And there was.
My growing fear had been realised. I found out that you’re no longer here Stephen and your journey here had ended abruptly and cruelly.
I felt sick when I first read about you and what had happened. I went cold all over and then I was filled with so much sadness. An almost surprising, overwhelming sadness that someone could feel so much for someone that they hadn’t seen in so many years. I found out you died 7 years after I last saw you. It was almost too much.
I remember the last time I saw you. I was living in London then. In a flat in Shepherd’s Bush where my bedroom had no window, where the washing machine was in the bathroom and the fridge in the hallway. It was above the Central Line, so every time an underground train rumbled underneath the building, our whole flat would shake. Amazingly, I stopped noticing this after about a month of living there. You were working at the BBC, which at the time was round the corner on Wood Lane. After work, one day you came over for dinner. My connoisseur cooking skills were not all together extensive at the time and I made you the grand meal of pasta & pesto. As always, we washed it down with red wine and then you were promptly sick. You were so embarrassed and couldn’t stop apologising. Our evening ended earlier than what it normally would have done and after we said goodbye, I was left with a weird, unsettling feeling. I cannot tell you why. Maybe I was just concerned that you were so easily ill after a bit of wine and pasta. Maybe I was disappointed our evening didn’t carry the usual fun and excitement or maybe, just somehow, I knew it was to be the last time I’d see you.
But Stephen, all of my other memories of you are filled with nothing, but laughter, warmth and endless chatter. Do you remember when we spent New Years Eve at your uncle’s office just off of Regent Street? We drank all of the bottles of wine that were in the staff kitchen and we heroically left our loose change thinking it would cover the costs. Your uncle was not best pleased and we were stumped with a massive bill to pay between all of us. It was worth it though. We spent most of the evening on the rooftop, putting the world to rights, shouting at passersby and somehow not freezing. It must’ve been all of that expensive wine.
There were times before when we both sill lived in Oxfordshire, where we used to go clubbing with Dan. We’d go to United Kingdom and Trade in London. Trade didn’t open until 3am, so we would have to find ways to cheaply fill the time before going. We’d hop from gay bar to gay bar in Soho until our money would almost run out. We would then trawl the streets of Clerkenwell desperately trying to come up with ideas. Then we heard the sound of loud music. We followed it to a courtyard area that resembled Fagin’s haunt in Oliver Twist, we had to balance walking across planks of wood and found this house where the loud music was coming out of, that had its front doors missing . Naturally, we went inside. The downstairs was completely empty, so we climbed up the precarious looking stairs. Upstairs in full swing was a large house party with DJs, a free bar and free food. I remember, you and I helping ourselves to cake and wine and giggling like school children (we practically almost were still) as we danced to the music. Do you remember that guy who came up to us and asked if we wanted a piece of “Miles’s Birthday cake”, to which you not-so-cleverly replied “who the fuck is Miles?”. This guy looked at us sternly and said “you’ve gate-crashed this party, haven’t you?”. “No” I said “ok yeah, but can I go to the loo before you kick us out?”. To which he shrugged and said it made no difference to him and walked off. We ended up staying at the party until after it ended, chatting to Miles and his friends. They were all lawyers and some of them had clubbed together to buy the house and were in the middle of renovating it. Somehow, between the two of us, we managed to persuade the straightest people in London to come to Trade with us. Trade stayed opened until about 10am, but by 7am I started to flag. I remember going to the toilet and the next thing I know, you and some other random guy were climbing over the toilet cubicle wall that I was in. You started shaking and shouting at me. God, I’m so sorry. I must’ve given you a fright. You clearly thought I’d collapsed when in fact, I had just popped into the toilet for a quick power nap. This is it, though, Stephen. We always looked after each other.
One of my most ridiculous memories of us was when one day we couldn’t be bothered to go to college where we were doing our A-levels, so of course we quite reasonably decided to hitch hike into London for the day instead. We had about 50p between us and we bought a loaf of bread as some kind of pathetic lunch, sat in Soho square and ate it (and fed what we couldn’t manage to the pigeons), quickly ran around Hamleys like a couple of manic 8 year olds high on E numbers and promptly hitch hiked back home to Oxfordshire.
There wasn’t just the silly memories of us as hedonistic teenagers though. There were the more profound and poignant memories. Memories that shaped us and in particular shaped you.
I remember feeling honoured that I was one of the first people you came out to.
I remember on that roof top in London on New Year’s Eve you telling me that your Father was seriously ill.
I remember finding out the news he had passed and nervously phoning you in tears to console you. In your typical fashion Stephen, you were more concerned with making me feel at ease and as always you were full of that trademark positive attitude of yours.
You taught me so much. You don’t know this, but you did. You taught me to think positively, you taught me not to judge others, you made me reach a little deeper with my thoughts, but most of all you made me grab life by the horns. If you were to have a catch phrase, it would have been “Fuck it”. Your humour, your intelligence, your warmth- I will never forget. The impact you had on my life is immeasurable.
I also remember our plans to travel around America together. We worked the whole route out and we both started saving, but like so many things life got in the way and we never made it. Except, some years later I did. I travelled the routes we wanted to take with my now husband. I’m so sad you never met him. I got together with him a year after we last saw each other. I have no doubt the two of you would have got along. I’m almost certain you would have been the best of friends.
I now wonder what happened to you that your life ended the way it did. I feel sad not just for the fact that you are no longer here, but also for the way you left. Your final time here must have been unthinkable. Was your illness short-lived or had you been suffering for years? Even when I knew you? I’m so, so sorry, Stephen.
As I write this, I am somehow filled simultaneously with both an immense amount of sadness, but equally with happiness. The happiness is there because every memory I have of you is so wonderful. We had so much fun. Too much fun maybe. Every memory of you is filled with so much laughter. I was so lucky to have you as my friend.
I hope you realise just how much you were loved and not just by me. My heart goes out to your Mum, your brother and Dan who you were so close to. It has been so painful finding out what happened to you. Maybe it would have been best off, if I hadn’t. Finding this out has reminded me of everything you gave me though, which was so much. I am richer because of you. Until we meet again my beautiful friend.
As an end note, I am sadly only too aware how this article may effect some people. With a heavy heart I list the following statistics. Men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women. That’s 76% of all suicides that are male. The biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK is suicide. That said, the suicide rate for women is currently at it’s highest since 2005. Reach out to someone, anyone if you are effected by this or reach out and talk to someone who you think might be.
The following numbers may be of help to some people:
Well, look what I’ve just thrown together, an actual playlist with all things bonfire nighty on it. I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t put Gina G’s Ooh Aah Just a Little Bit on it, but it does have the obvious ones in it (The Prodigy, The Doors, Katy Perry). Also, I’m quite pleased I managed to squeeze The Teardrop Explodes in there too. Enjoy while you “ooh” and “aah” at the pretty sky that celebrates the time when some bloke and his mates almost blew up the Houses of Parliament with the King inside and the little rascals were then tortured and burnt to death. Yay!
Last night I popped to the cinema by myself and plonked myself down with a glass of wine the size of my head to watch the new Ron Howard film The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, about the band’s touring years. Those years where girls screamed so loudly whilst they were playing that not only could nobody in the audience hear the band, but the Beatles couldn’t hear themselves play. Ringo used to have to watch John’s body movements closely, so he knew whereabouts they were in the song. The film was fascinating and was an excellent reminder of the band’s genius.
So as my feet couldn’t actually, physically stop tapping throughout the film, I thought now was as good a time as any to talk about my love for the Beatles and list my personal favourites.
My love for the Beatles was set in stone from the very beginning. I had no choice as like many people my age, my Mother was a superfan during the 60s (Paul was her favourite. Of course). I remember poring over my Mum’s vinyl collection of the Beatles and discussing with her our favourite Beatles songs (when I was a child it was Ticket to Ride). I also remember the horror I felt, when my Mum told me that in the late 70s she decided it would be a good idea to burn all of her copies of the Beatles magazines from the 60s that she owned (and of which she had every single copy) as they had no room for them in the new house. I sense this is something she quite regrets these days.
Then my love for Whitney, Madonna and all things Stock, Aiken & Waterman took over from my interest in the Beatles. Never fear, When I was 14 years old, my love for them was reignited when me and my group of friends became obsessed with them and their music. We all had a favourite. Paul was the most popular, but I myself carried a flame for Ringo. Yes that’s right. I was a 14 year old with a crush on Ringo Starr. So much so, I used to faithfully, regularly watch Thomas the Tank Engine and even went to see him play live at the Hammersmith Apollo (Ringo that is. Not Thomas). Also, our choice to go to Henley College to do our A-levels may have some how been influenced by the fact that the college was situated right next door to George Harrison’s mansion. If we were lucky we could catch a glimpse of him driving through the large gates of Friar Park in his limousine. During these dodgy-crush years, I did develop a serious love for their music that I still carry with me now. So sit back and have a listen to my top 12 (sorry I couldn’t narrow it down to ten) Beatles songs, in order.
12. I’ve Just Seen a Face (from the Help! album)
11. Dear Prudence (from the Whitealbum)
10. Penny Lane (from the Magical Mystery Tour album)
9. Lady Madonna (non-album single)
8. We Can Work it Out (non-album single)
7. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away (from the Help! album)
6. Come Together (from the Abbey Road album)
5. Here Comes the Sun (from the Abbey Road album)
4. A Day in the Life (from the Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album)
3. Norwegian Wood (this bird has flown) (from the Rubber Soul album)
I won’t dwell on it too much, but 2016 has thus far been a right bastard of a year. It has been an annus horribilis for everyone. From the multitude of unthinkable terrorism, plethora of celebrity deaths and now the fall out post-EU referendum, 2016 can well and truly suck my dick. If I had one. I find myself firing up the BBC News website with one eye closed in fear of what horrific news I will come upon. It seems to be a free fall of bad news after even more bad news. So, in some kind of pathetic attempt to try and vaguely cheer us all up, I welcome you to a news page of a different kind. One that will only deliver good news. News that doesn’t make you want to give up on humanity. News that may even bring a smile to your face. Now make yourself a cup of tea, take a deep breath and be assured that it’s not all bad shit going down right now.
Love is in the Air!
Oh yes it is indeed. Not one, but two policemen got down on one knee and proposed to their boyfriends at last weekend’s Pride celebrations in London. Luckily they both said yes. Here’s a heartwarming clip of one of the proposals. All together now. aaaaahhhhhhh.
Christmas is Finally Here!
Well it is for the folk of Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire anyway. Do you remember the devastating floods that happened over Christmas 2015? And do you remember that in particular, the town Hebden Bridge was affected by these floods in ways that were unimaginable? This meant that nobody in Hebden Bridge got to celebrate Christmas last year as their homes and businesses were completely flooded and inhabitable. Well, I’m pleased to tell you that the folk of Hebden Bridge have finally had their Christmas. On the 25th June, they had an “alternative Christmas” where residents had a sit down Christmas meal, drank mulled wine and partied to Christmas tunes on the street that had been turned into a river 6 months previously. Many businesses that have been shut since Christmas, officially reopened too letting everyone know that Hebden Bridge is indeed back up and running. Hooray!
English Sport CAN be Celebrated.
Ok, so we didn’t exactly ‘dominate’ the UEFA European Championship (to put it mildly) this year, BUT did you know that whilst we shook our heads at missed goals, actual passion etc our England rugby team were OWNING it during the Australian test series, by winning it 3-0. If anything, it should give the optimist in us, some hope for English football (bear with me). As you may recall the English rugby team gave a shameful performance at last year’s World Cup, not even making it past the group stages, but this year and with the help of new coach Eddie Jones they have completely turned it around and won both the 6 Nations and now the test series in Australia. Congratulations to the England rugby team.
This Otter Eating Food
This adorable, squealing otter eating cat food with his little paws makes me desperately want to have a one as a pet. He’ll be fine hanging out in my bath, won’t he? Everything that’s right with the world is in this clip. I LOVE HIM.
So, musically I’m not your biggest Coldplay fan, but I was moved by their tribute to British band Viola Beach during their headlining performance at Glastonbury festival last Sunday. Viola Beach were the British band who, along with their manager all tragically lost their lives when their car plunged 80ft off of a bridge into a canal in Sweden. Coldplay allowed Viola Beach to headline Glastonbury for one song, playing their music video on the big screens and playing along with the track. It was nothing short of beautiful and must have been an emotional, but wonderful moment for Viola Beach’s families.
Beautiful Children Being Beautiful
Many kids dread their sports days, especially if like me, you always came last in the races (look I’m more of long distance runner than a sprinter, OKAY!). One boy in particular dreaded his sports day this year. Daniel has cerebral palsy and told his Mum he didn’t want to join in sports day this year as he was worried that people would laugh at him for coming last again. Unbeknown to him and his Mum, all the boys in his race slowed down at Daniel’s pace and ran along side him and allowed him to cross the line first. According to his Mum, he was so happy he’d won, he burst into tears and ran for a hug with her and has been full of joy ever since. If that doesn’t go some way in restoring your faith in humanity, I’m not sure what will. Children are our future and all that.
And Lastly, Idiotic Goats
Oh we love a good goat video, don’t we? Watch these goats talking back and having a proper go at someone. This should get you smiling again.