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!