2021: A few of my favourite things

As I’m continuing to make a conscious effort to get a wide variety of entertainment into my days, I thought I should do a bit of a round-up of things other than theatre again. In the future I may include gigs in here, but many that had been rearranged to 2021 ended up getting moved again so I didn’t get to quite as many as I’d hoped – although a sneaky couple of trips to the Shepherd’s Bush Empire for Roger Taylor then the Stereophonics did bump my tally up a bit! I could also talk about all the days of cricket I got under my belt, but that may be a leap too far for some of you…

For whatever reason, I decided to rank my top 10s in order this time (last year I just mentioned my highlights in no particular order) – why make things easier for myself, eh? Basically everything on these lists is from 2021, with the exception of a couple of books (two are from 2020, another from 2019) as I felt like I needed to include them in the list; I did at least read/watch/listen to everything mentioned during 2021, so that’s really all that matters.

Books

10. No One Can Change Your Life Except for You – Laura Whitmore
9. My Child and Other Mistakes – Ellie Taylor
8. Hamilton and Me – Giles Terera
7. The Autobiography – Alastair Cook
6. My Name is Why – Lemn Sissay
5. The Five – Hallie Rubenhold
4. What Is History, Now? – Helen Carr & Suzannah Lipscomb (editors)
3. How To Kill Your Family – Bella Mackie
2. The Storyteller – Dave Grohl
1. It’s Always Summer Somewhere – Felix White

I set myself the task of reading more books by women in 2021, as I’ve been mysteriously quite shit at it recently; the majority of the books I read did end up being by men, but there were definitely more female writers in the pile – and it is a 50:50 split in my list of favourites. I couldn’t choose anything other than It’s Always Summer Somewhere as my overall favourite, though, as it is simply extraordinary’ a beautifully written memoir, and you don’t have to be a cricket fan to enjoy it.

Films

10. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
9. Judas and the Black Messiah
8. In The Heights
7. Sound of Metal
6. People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan
5. Palm Springs
4. Promising Young Woman
3. Spider-Man: No Way Home
2. Last Night in Soho
1. No Time To Die

It’s been another film-tastic year, whether in cinemas or tucked up at home. I finally boarded the Marvel train, taking advantage of a fairly free month to watch the whole MCU canon (in timeline order) in #MarvelMay – that has obviously allowed me to get a couple of new releases into this list. I also randomly started watching some Hitchcock films, and Edgar Wright has successfully managed to convert me to Sparks via The Sparks Brothers (and Annette). But I think the lunacy of going to a midnight screening of No Time To Die is what just pushed that into first place – I certainly wasn’t disappointed, and for me it was well worth the wait.

Albums

10. The Ultra Vivid Lament – Manic Street Preachers
9. Cruella OST – various
8. Pressure Machine – The Killers
7. Outsider – Roger Taylor
6. Music of the Spheres – Coldplay
5. St. Christopher – Peter Capaldi
4. Last Night in Soho OST – various
3. Assembly – Joe Strummer
2. Only Smith & Burrows Is Good Enough – Smith & Burrows
1. Coral Island – The Coral

Most of the albums I listened to in 2021 were older ones, either for a #TimsTwitterListeningParty or the direct result of Tim Burgess converting me into a proper album listener. It’s an interesting mix; I couldn’t not include two soundtracks in there, as they were just so good (70s bangers in Cruella and 60s toe-tappers in Last Night in Soho), and the rest fairly standard fare if you know my taste in music. The Coral easily won the race to number one though – I loved the t-shirt, loved the book, loved the listening party & just generally loved the album. It’s a modern classic.

Podcasts

10. Trees A Crowd
9. The Moon Under Water
8. Geraint Thomas Cycling Club
7. The Line-Up with Shaun Keaveny
6. Bad Women: The Ripper Retold
5. Sport’s Strangest Crimes: Allen Stanford – The Man Who Bought Cricket
4. Films To Be Buried With
3. You’re Dead To Me
2. Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster
1. Tailenders

I now listen to way, way too many podcasts. I can’t keep up with them. And yet… Some on the list are brand new for 2021, others have just had one (or more) series during the year to add to their back catalogue – they all count. My podcast listening habits must fry Spotify’s processors, as it is a rather eclectic collection: where else would trees, serial killers, cyclists & loosely cricket-based chat belong? 2021 was absolutely the year of Tailenders, as the live shows thankfully went unscathed (I didn’t allow myself to get excited about them because of the threat of COVID cancellations), and they accompanied me on a full-on year of cricket – it’s been a real comfort given the poor results on the field.

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