Favourite Things

This is a response to a request from Jenny Rowbury (here) for people to compile lists of their favourite things, which will hopefully bring a smile as she marks nine years of suffering with a chronic illness.


I think books in general are my favourite things; I even spend quite a bit of time in bookshops when I’m on holiday!  Here are some of my favourites, things that I read over and over again, in no particular order:

  • The Bible – especially the Psalms, Gospels, and Letters.  I find the Psalms in particular a source of comfort, and in the worst times of my own illness they are often the only part of the Bible that I read, and usually in a version such as the New Living Translation.
  • The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien – first read it over 40 years ago, in four evenings flat.
  • The Harry Potter books by JK Rowling; again, this becomes an “easy reading” option.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – 200 years old this year; took me several goes to finish it for the first time, but now I re-read it quite often.
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre.
  • The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks, part of his “Culture” series.
  • The State of Me, bu Nasim Marie Jafry – an excellent novel on what it’s like to live with ME.
  • A Year Lost and Found by Michael Mayne; again about living with ME, and a search for meaning when such an illness strikes.
  • The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett; current favourites is Going Postal.
  • Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome, from the “Swallows and Amazons” series, usually read once a year in winter.
  • Possession by AS Byatt, which I never read without wanting more of the poetry excerpts, wishing they were real poems.


I tend not to go to the cinema much these days, so these are on DVDs; again, ones I watch time and again:

  • The Harry Potter films
  • A Few Good Men
  • The X-Men films, especially First Class.
  • Some of the Star Trek series, especially First Contact and the new re-boot.


Currently or recently, things that I make sure I’m in to watch and record if I’m out:

  • Dr. Who (Matt Smith my favourite)
  • Poirot with David Suchet (now come to an end, sadly)
  • Many of the Scandinavian dramas, especially The Killing, Borgen, and The Bridge
  • Current repeats of Foyle’s War
  • Some quiz programmes, especially University Challenge, Only Connect, and Pointless.

And on DVD:

  • The West Wing
  • Marple with Joan Hickson


  • I listen mainly to BBC Radio 3, and like attempting the daily brainteaser on weekdays, sometimes even getting the right answer!
  • My favourite composer is Dvorak, and my favourite compositions are his String Quartets.
  • I also listen to some folk music, my favourite singer being Kate Rusby.
  • I like classical and acoustic guitar, especially Leo Kottke.
  • I enjoy some musicals, with my absolute favourite being Les Miserables (seen 3 times in theatres, film once in cinema, have DVD, CDs; will sing along unless forcibly restrained).


  • I have a collection of teddy bears, quite a few made by my wife Ruth, who created them under the name of Wellwood Bears.
  • I like doing cryptic crosswords, with the Times Jumbo being my favourite.
  • I like SuDoKu, but concentrate on the Killer version where you have to add up numbers in odd-shaped boxes as well as arrange them; the harder, the better.
  • I play the guitar a bit (mainly chord accompaniment to songs), but not for long these days as it makes my arms ache.
  • I enjoy bird-watching, although again this is limited these days.  However, I’m quite happy to be a “bad birdwatcher” (book by Simon Barnes): see a bird, enjoy it.
  • I play a few simple computer games, these days mainly on my Tablet, especially Backgammon and a patience game called Blockade.

And finally, I am finding Twitter very enjoyable: social media for the anti-social!

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3 Responses to Favourite Things

  1. Veronica Jones says:

    You mention birdwatching and that it is limited these days and I wondered if you knew about Garden Birdwatch, organised by the British Trust for Ornithology http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw

    I have been severely affected by ME since 1997 and joined back then and it has added a lot to my enjoyment of birdwatching (and other wildlife) in the garden. It is very satisfying to think that while I am just lying in bed looking out of the window I am contributing to science, so I do recommend it! Von

    Sent from my iPad


    • acd347 says:

      Thanks, Von – I wasn’t aware of this. I have sometimes taken part in the RSPB birdwatch, but this tends to be just one hour on a particular weekend, and my chosen hour has often been bird-free! I may give the BTO one a go.

      • Veronica jones says:

        Don’t forget they are also interested if you don’t see any birds in the time as that is how they know if numbers are declining.
        Good luck with the BTO!

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