Top Ten Tunes- 2011

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 2011.

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

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In 2011, Prince William marries Catherine Middleton in Westminster Abbey and a public holiday was declared across the country, the last British combat veteran of the First World War, Claude Choules, dies in Australia at 110 years old, the News of the World ceases publication due to allegations of hacking mobile phones belonging to celebrities, politicians and high-profile crime victims- it had ben in circulation for 168 years, Amy Winehouse is found dead in her London home- she was 27 yrs-old, following the death of Mark Duggan who was shot dead by police rioting takes place in London and spreads across the country, police struggle to restore order and David Cameron holds a COBRA meeting, Scottish police are sent into England to help with the riots, 3 Muslim men are run over and killed whilst trying to protect their neighbourhood, a new October high temperature record is set in the UK when it experiences unusually hot weather as it reaches 30C degrees (86F) and I remember spending the day on the beach with my baby in disbelief that we could do this in October, Welsh national football team manager Gary Speed takes his own life– he was 42, Elizabeth Taylor dies at 79, an earthquake off the coast of Japan, causes a tsunami to hit Japan and triggers a nuclear disaster, Osama Bin Laden is found and killed by US Navy Seals, in Oslo an bomb explodes and shortly afterwards Anders Behring Breivik attacks and kills people at a youth camp– in total 76 people are killed and the films Bridesmaids, The Artist, The Help, The Muppets, and the final Harry Potter film- the Deathly Hallows Part 2 are released and I turn 35 years old.

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2011 for me was partly maternity leave (and me holding my baby and crying on my bed in the final days of it because I couldn’t bear to be parted from her) and after several months of returning to working, I gave up my career that I had worked so hard on for so many years (not just due to baby reasons, mainly due to health reasons), so it was quite a life changing year for many reasons. And here’s the 10 songs that soundtracked all of that. In. No. Particular. Order.

1. Born This Way by Lady Gaga

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2. Better Off Without You by Summer Camp

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3. Price Tag by Jessie J

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4. Everything Goes My Way by Metronomy

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5. Desire by Anna Calvi

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6. The Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit

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7. F**ckin’ Perfect by Pink

8. Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People

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9. Video Games by Lana Del Ray

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10. Someone Like You by Adele (This performance of Adele’s on Jools Holland is absolutely stunning)

Gang, I’ve done you a little bonus this week. It’s not part of my Top Ten, but it was released in 2011 and is such a wonderful performance by both Amy Winehouse and Tony Bennett. When, I first watched this within the documentary film Amy, I was moved to tears. It is perfect and so very lovely.

Oooh, now which one is my favourite? Obviously, Adele and Lana’s songs are beautiful. P!nk yet again makes me cry. The Lion’s Roar made me fall in love with First Aid Kit, BUT for me it’s Anna Calvi that really sticks out this week. Come on then, tell me your favourite.

See you next week for 2012!

Top Ten Tunes- 2010

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 2010. Welcome to our final decade- the 10s!

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

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Fun times.

In 2010, the UK is officially no longer in recession, Tony Blair appears at the Iraq enquiry and is questioned on his decision to take the UK into war against Iraq, American company Kraft Foods takes over British chocolate company Cadburys and the whole country collapses isn’t very happy about it, Levi Bellfield is charged with the murder of Milly Dowler who went missing 8 years ago, a Birmingham couple are charged and sentenced for starving their 7 yr-old daughter Khyra Ishaq to death, volcanic ash from Iceland causes British airports to close for 6 days, the general election takes place and results in a hung parliament, after leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg whores himself negotiates between the Conservative and Labour parties a coalition government is formed between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, David Cameron becomes the new British Prime Minister and Nick Clegg becomes the Deputy Prime Minister, 12 people are killed and 25 injured when gunman Derrick Bird goes on a killing rampage in Cumbria- he then turns the gun on himself, in the North East Roaul Moat shoots dead one person and badly injures two others– a week later a six-hour stand-off with the police and Gazza (yes Gazza) takes place as they try to talk him into giving himself up- he then also turns the gun on himself, Ed Miliband becomes the leader of the Labour Party, Prince Williams becomes engaged to Catherine Middleton, students protest against increased tuition fees and cuts to funding, fashion designer Alexander McQueen dies, the 2010 World Cup takes place in South Africa and Spain win the cup, the world’s tallest building opens in Dubai– it is 2,716ft tall, 33 miners are trapped underground in Chile– they are rescued after being underground for 69 days (I became OBSESSED with the Chilean miners and watched their rescue at 3am), the films Inception, Blue Valentine, Toy Story 3, The Social Network, Black Swan and The King’s Speech were all released, I turn 34 years old and Bessie Dye was born.

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Well, there we have it, 2010 is the year that I have struggled the most to come up with 10 songs that I genuinely love. Now, is this because it was a weak year for music OR is it because for most of the year, I was either growing a human being inside of my actual body or I was tending to my tiny, beautiful, very loud human being and trying to keep it alive whist suffering from severe sleep deprivation and leaking milk from my mammaries (am I really selling motherhood to you?). Either way, I somehow came up with 10 songs that I loved from the year my babygirl was born. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Only Girl (In the World) by Rihanna

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2. Tightrope by Janelle Monae (here’s a video of Janelle performing Tightrope at Glastonbury Festival 2011. It is a masterclass in how to give audiences their money’s worth).

3. Rill Rill by Sleigh Bells

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4. Beat the Devil’s Tattoo by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

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5. Rambling Man by Laura Marling

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6. Rolling in the Deep by Adele

7. We Used to Wait by Arcade Fire

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8. All the Lovers by Kylie Minogue

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9. Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down by Alicia Keys (yes I know the other version featured last week, but it is beautiful and I told you I’m struggling this week)

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10. I’d Do It All Again by Corinne Bailey Rae (Corinne wrote this song about her husband that died suddenly at 32 years old and every time I hear it, it devastates me)

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Hello world. My Boo at 2 weeks old (her eyes were always this wide open and she never lost that hair)

This week my favourite is Laura Marling. Don’t forget to let me know in the comments, which one is yours.

See you next week for 2011!

Top Ten Tunes- 2009

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 2009.

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008

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Retail chain Woolworths closes across the country after 100 years of business, it is announced that the UK’s economy is official in recession- the first time since 1991, Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan are sentenced to 8 years in prison for kidnapping Matthews’s daughter Shannon in a bid to claim £50,000 for her safe return after reporting her missing to the police, Slumdog Millionaire walk away with 8 awards at the Oscars and Kate Winslet wins Best Actress, Prime Minister Gordon Brown suspends Prime Minister’s Questions as a mark of respect for the death of leader of the opposition David Cameron’s six year old son, reality TV star Jade Goody dies after a 7 month battle with cervical cancer, protests are held in London ahead of the G20 summit– one person dies of a heart attack during the protests, Swine Flu hits the UK, the Telegraph publishes details of MPs’ expenses claims, the BBC publish their expenses report and cancel bonuses for their 10 most senior executives, the number of British Forces personnel killed in Afghanistan reaches 237, the highest ever UK rainfall is recorded resulting in several towns flooded and a bridge collapsing killing a police officer who was standing on it at the time, more than 80% of the UK now have internet access in their own homes, actor Natasha Richardson dies in a skiing accident, Somalian pirates attempts to hijack the MV Maersk Cargo Ship and take Captain Phillips hostage, Barak Obama is inaugurated as the 44th President of the USA, Michael Jackson dies, deadly bushfires in Victoria, Australia leave 173 people dead and 2000 homes destroyed, an earthquake in Italy kills 300 people, after a plane is struck by a flock of geese just after take-off- Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger successfully crash lands on the Hudson River, films Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Up in the Air, The Hangover, Precious, Up, Inglourious Bastards and Avatar are released and I turn 33 years old.

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The last quarter of 2009 was particularly good for me as I had started growing a little bun in my oven. Well, I say it was good. It mainly involved me vomiting, falling asleep on the sofa by 8pm every night and unsuccessfully hiding the fact that I was up the duff from my colleagues. Musically, I actually really like this year’s playlist as it contains both commercial chart songs and lesser known songs. I think this will probably be how the rest of the playlists will go. So here’s this week’s, in no particular order.

1. Bad Romance by Lady Gaga

2. Shark in the Water by VV Brown

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3. Big Bad Handsome Man by Imelda May

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4. Tenuousness by Andrew Bird

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5. Fight For This Love by Cheryl (I should probably feel slightly ashamed of putting this one in here, but do you know what? I do not. Not even slightly)

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6. Empire State of Mind by Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys

7. Never Forget by Noisettes

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8. Halo by Beyonce

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9. Eet by Regina Spektor

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10. Blood by the Middle East

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My no.1 this week is -predictably- Queen Bey, but which one is yours?

See you next week for the start of the -er- 10s (?) 2010!

Top Ten Tunes- 2008

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 2008. And can you believe we only 10 more years to do.

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007

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In 2008, Mohammed Al Fayed told an inquest into Princess Diana’s death that she and his son had been killed in a conspiracy arranged by the Royal family, Tony Blair, MI5, MI6 and the British ambassador to France, the inquest concludes a verdict of “accidental death” caused by the intoxication of Diana’s chauffeur, 9-year-old Shannon Matthews is kidnapped, the police arrest her mother and her mother’s boyfriend and charge them with organising the kidnapping for financial gain, Boris Johnson becomes the new mayor of London, Barry George is acquitted of the murder of Jill Dando, the Olympics takes place in Beijing, Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross prank call actor Andrew Sachs, which results in Brand and Ross being suspended by the BBC, Lewis Hamilton becomes the youngest ever Formula One World Champion, Fidel Castro steps down as president of Cuba after 50 years in power, writers strike in Hollywood for 3 months, Barack Obama beats John McCain in the US elections, the films The Dark Knight, Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Mamma Mia and the Reader are released and I turn 32 years old.

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Are we really on 2008? This means we only have 9 more years until we’re up to date. So this week sees the return of Bey and the first appearance of a certain American Lady. Here in no particular order, are my 10 favourites from 2008. Spotify playlist at the end.

1. American Boy by Estelle

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2. The Promise by Girls Aloud

3. Dance Wiv Me by Dizzee Rascal (featuring Calvin Harris)

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4. Poker Face by Lady Gaga

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5. Boyfriend by Alphabeat

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6. My Delirium by Ladyhawke

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7. If I Were a Boy by Beyonce

8. The Devil’s Crayon by Wild Beasts

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9. Run by Leona Lewis

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10. One Day Like This by Elbow

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But which one is my favourite? A few years ago, I would have said -hands down- Elbow. However, I have heard that song a few too many times now (it’s still a great track, so that’s why it’s here). Now, my favourite is probably….oh sod it…imma gonna go with Elbow anyway. I still love it.

See you next week for 2009!

Just Another Book Club- June Book

Please leave your comments below or within the appropriate post on my Facebook page. Please feel free to peruse other people’s comments and respond to them.

***Please be aware this is a book club discussion, so there is the possibility that my review or the comments left by others will contain spoilers***

Stay With Me

by

Ayombami Adebayo

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Synopsis

Set in 1980s Nigeria during times of political unrest, Stay With Me tells the story of Yejide and her husband Akin and their hope for a child. When a new wife for Akin is introduced at the insistence of his family, it is not view favourably by Yejide.

My Quick Review

Stay With Me covers many difficult subjects including child mortality, extra-marital sex, sexism, grief, infertility and politics. As you can imagine, this makes the book quite difficult to read on a occasion. However, the book is written with a lot of humanity and at times with humour.

The book features many strong female characters, including our protagonist Yejide. What consistently shocked me about the book was the horrific sexism deployed by the mother-in-law towards Yejide. This book is an excellent portrayal of Nigerian family culture and I learned so much from it.

I felt like the title of the book was referring more to Yejide’s children than her husband. When I first started to read the book, I thought it would be referring to their marriage, but it came clearer further into the book that it was the children that she so desperately wanted to stay with her.

This book is well-written and shows a lot of potential for author Ayobami Adebayo. It is a book about the bond of mothers with their children, about female strength, family and love.

Questions to Consider

1. Discuss the early stages of Yejide and Akin’s courtship, from both of their perspectives. What is Yejide’s initial reaction to Akin’s romantic propositions? Consider Yejide’s childhood and past that is revealed over the course of the novel. What does she seek in a romantic relationship? How does Akin provide security for her? How does Akin convince Yejide that he is trustworthy?

2. Consider the family unit as a social force in Stay with Me. How do the opinions of Akin’s family members influence his decisions? Describe the relationship between Akin and his parents. How does Akin both obey and defy the wishes of his family? How does Yejide navigate her role as a daughter-in-law?

3. In the beginning of Stay with Me, the reader is introduced to the central conflict of Yejide and Akin’s life: their infertility as a couple. How is Yejide and Akin’s childlessness seen as a reflection on the family unit? What is the burden of expectation placed on Yejide? How is she treated by Akin’s family as a result of her infertility? By the community? How do attitudes toward Yejide change once she is pregnant?

4. Discuss the road leading to Yejide’s first pregnancy. How do the social pressures to become a mother weigh on Yejide? Once Yejide learns that she is no longer Akin’s only wife, how does the urgency of her mission become more pronounced? Consider the barriers to her pregnancy, and what she learns about herself from the field remedies and the medical establishment. How does the psychological trauma that accompanies her journey weigh on her throughout the novel?

5. The tension between modern attitudes and traditional thought informs much of Stay with Me. How does Yejide and Akin’s early agreement of monogamy conflict with the prevailing social attitude? How does this create tension over the course of the novel? How does Yejide defy the wishes of her husband’s family? How does the eventual shift of parental responsibilities to Akin upend the expectations of motherhood and parenting?

6. Consider the identity of “mother,” and how understanding of that role shifts for Yejide over the course of the novel. How does the story of her mother’s death influence her worldview and her perspective on family? Discuss the relationship Yejide had with her father’s other wives. Which woman in her life, if any, provides her with an understanding of what a loving mother-child relationship looks like? Once she becomes a mother, how does her self-image change?

7. Describe Yejide’s relationship with Iya Bolu. How does Iya Bolu’s attitude toward Yejide shift over the years? When does Yejide seem to earn the most respect from Iya Bolu? When does she earn her sympathy?

8. Consider the political background of Stay with Me. How does the instability of the government undermine the health and happiness of Yejide and her family? How does the political upheaval reflect the emotional turmoil of Yejide and Akin?

9. The reveal of Akin’s medical condition is an important development in the plot. Given this revelation, would you consider Funmi’s death to be purposeful? How did you interpret his reaction to her accusation? How does Akin contend with threats to his masculinity throughout the novel?

10. Discuss the significance of the hair salon in Yejide’s life. How does it encourage her independence? How does it act as a place of gathering within their community?

11. Compare the bedtime story that Yejide tells her children with the tale that Akin shares with Rotimi as she grows. What do these stories reveal about the worldviews of both parents? What lessons are they sharing? How is it a cautionary tale between parent and child? How does it reflect Yejide’s own childhood experiences?

12. Discuss the process of mourning as depicted in Stay with Me. How does the community react to Yejide’s mourning for the loss of her first child versus her second? Discuss the general attitude towards Yejide’s depression from her family and those around her.

13. What is Akin’s relationship with his brother? How do they compete with each other? How do they jockey for the coveted spot of favored son throughout the novel? After their brawl, how does their relationship change? Do you think Dotun possessed real romantic feelings for Yejide?

14. Discuss Yejide’s reunion with Rotimi. Were you surprised by this reveal? How did you interpret Timi’s insistence on calling Yejide “Moomi”?

15. Stay with Me is a novel that challenges readers’ expectations with its surprising reveals, its secrets, and its deception. What plot development did you find to be most surprising? How does Adebayo play with the idea of expectation versus reality throughout the novel?

My order (by how much I enjoyed them), of the 6 books we read in the first half of 2018. Click on the titles for the book club reviews:

6. Sweet Pea by C J Skuse

5. Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan

3. Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo (joint 3rd place)

3. This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

2. Slade House by David Mitchell

1. Animal by Sara Pascoe

As you know, I’m dong things slightly differently with Just Another Book Club. I will now only be opening the book club discussion at the end of every 6 months, but I will be leaving a space on my Facebook page and Instagram on a monthly basis for people to discuss earlier if they so wish.

For a list of the books we are reading for the second half of 2018, click HERE

You can view my Goodreads page here