I’ve recently finished work experience at a local entertainment magazine in South Wales, where I was able to write loads of articles about things that were happening next month. That said, it was the “art issue”, which means I knew very little about what I was writing: I’m definitely the kind of person who accidentally pees in the toilet-shaped art installation. In line with this idea of sharing entertainment, though, I thought I would share some of the entertaining things I’ve been doing or consuming recently because I’m self-indulgent enough to think that “The Meg Issue” would’ve been far more entertaining than the art one.
I basically only discovered that podcasts exist this year. Primarily, I listen to them while I run. I know that might not sound that great and people usually listen to music to keep the momentum of their feet with the beat, but I basically reached a point where I was saying: “Hmm. How peculiar. I have been running for roughly three thousand years, and yet this three-minute song hasn’t finished?” Whereas, when I’m listening to podcasts, I’m concentrating on the content. So, here’s what I’ve been listening to.
Desert Island Discs, for anyone who’s been stranded on a desert island for the larger part of the last 70 years, is a BBC Radio 4 programme that’s been around since 1942. It’s a series of interviews where anyone who’s ever been anyone is asked which songs they would take with them if they were to be stranded on a desert island. They can also take the complete works of Shakespeare, the Bible – which some have opted to use as toilet paper – any book of their choice and one luxury item. Simon Cowell took a mirror, “because I’d miss me”. Yeah, I know, serves me right for listening to Simon Cowell. It’s a fantastic structure for an interview: it’s interspersed with the chosen music samples (which is sometimes great when running because the likes of Freddie Flintoff choose Jonny Cash’s Ring of Fire, but sometimes difficult because one can’t always keep a spring in their step during a concerto in E minor). It brings out the weird and wonderful stories in people.
The High Low is a weekly pop-culture/news podcast hosted by Dolly Alderton (journalist and author of Everything I Know About Love) and freelance writer Pandora Sykes. The idea is that they talk about the high and low brow elements of feminist culture and modern life, insisting that “life is best consumed with a mix of the trivial and the political”. I think it’s fantastic. They’re posh, white and privileged, which is not something I haven’t thought about a lot while trying to decide how I feel about the podcast in general. But it’s not something they’re trying to hide, either. I enjoy and respect their self-awareness, and at no point do they attempt to speak for anyone but themselves. They also give great podcast and book recommendations.
My taste in series is completely undefinable. I’m quite easily entertained on this front and I’ll swap between episodes of Vampire Diaries and Black Mirror and think nothing of it. Therefore, my recommendations aren’t anything to take seriously. That’s why I thought I’d share a series that I would not recommend because it’s really saying something if even I won’t watch it.
Insatiable is quite terrible. I reckon I was satiated within the first 35 seconds of watching it. Naturally, I still watched the entire first season, because that’s just the caliber of binge-consumer I am, but I have no intention of watching the next season (which, to be frank, I’d be very surprised to see funded). The premise is (not) simple: Fat Girl punches a homeless person who then sues her (classic age-old television trope…?), homeless person punches her back and breaks her jaw (???), broken jaw results in her going on a liquid diet and losing loads of weight, Fat Girl is now Newly Skinny Girl who nobody recognises, Newly Skinny Girl tries to set the homeless man who sued her on fire after seducing him (I’m not making this up) and then when that doesn’t work, she enters beauty pageants to get revenge on all the people who made her feel shitty while she was fat. And this all happens in the first couple of episodes so it’s not even a major plot spoiler.
I’ve actually been finding a lot of time for reading lately, which is weird because my primary reason for not reading in the past has been “there just isn’t enough time!” and I’m definitely busier now than I was then. What I found was that there’s always enough time to read a couple of pages of a book before bed and that I had this weird preoccupation with not starting something I couldn’t finish quickly, or plodding through books I was hating but insisting on finishing. This isn’t highschool anymore – there really is no time limit and you don’t have to finish every book. That said, I hate leaving books unfinished, so I’ve become quite rigorous in my selection process to stop that from happening. I’ve started an Instagram account for book reviews, where I balance books I’ve read on my pretty throw-cushions so it looks like I’ve got a professional background and write a few words on the book. I’ve got barely any followers (one of which is this very insistent guy trying to get me to buy into his t-shirt printing company), so I’d love it if you followed me!
Roald Dahl’s Adult Short Stories: I’ve read two of these often-overlooked short story collections – Kiss Kiss and Switch Bitch. Whatever Dahl knew about kids that helped him hit the nail every time, he knew the adult equivalent, too. They appeal to our inner child. They’re as mischievously interwoven as his children’s books, only they’re about more sinister, sordid, sexual things. Some of them were published in The New Yorker, some in Playboy, and they’re all hilariously ridiculous.
Born a Crime: This autobiographical page-turner is as funny and insightful as you’d expect from the award-winning, Daily Show host, South African comedian, Trevor Noah. He discusses his childhood being born a crime – where Apartheid laws forbid couples of different races having children. The book is neither a ramble of his own life stories nor a history manual, but rather balanced and informative, seamlessly swapping from history to explain the context of the events he’s describing without being overbearing or assuming too much prior knowledge, to his personalised, humorous experiences that were not detachable from that history.
A few more things I can highly recommend: The Couch to 5k running programme (it has a set of podcasts, too, which are great!) I recently ran a 10k having started the C25K at the beginning of this year, from absolutely no level of fitness; the Linda McCartney vegetarian 1/4lb burgers are a delicious meat alternative that don’t just taste like puré synthetic meat; Brecon Gin from Penderyn Distillery (but also now Tesco) is delicious – the distillery is at the end of a hiking trail that I would not recommend AT ALL; and lastly, The Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Watford, London. I doubt I need to explain that one.