Pick of the Week #5

Looking for some more pics? Check out the back catalogue: #1, #2, #3 and #4.

Film: Arrival (currently £1.99 to rent on Amazon)

Great science fiction manages to reflect on the now and say so much about the human experience. Arrival isn’t just a great science fiction movie, it’s one of the finest science fiction movies in the 21st Century. When gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations across the world, Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is called in to lead an elite team of investigators. A slow-burn thriller that is profound and beautiful. To say any more would spoil it, so go watch it!

TV: Inside No.9

An anthology of dark and twisted tales – all 31 episodes are currently free to watch on BBC iPlayer.  Each episode is stand-alone, you can pick and choose the premise that takes your fancy. Each features creators Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, but there’s a revolving door of incredible guests stars who need to be seen to be believed. This is a show so well written, you’ll start watching and can’t believe it took you so long…

Book: Andi Osho – Asking For A Friend (currently 99p on Amazon Kindle)

Andi Osho is a fantastic comedian I’ve loved for years, her humour is self-deprecating yet warm which works really well in his book – which is her writing debut.  It’s the story of three friends (on is in her 40s, the other in her 30s and the third in her 20s). They met at a comedy improv class ten years ago and became the very best of friends – the ride or die kind) They decide to tackle their love life disasters head on by ditching the dating apps and actually ask people out in real life…but only for each other. What could possibly go wrong? A laugh-out-loud romcom that shows that friendship is just as important as romantic love.

Music: Lady Percy by King Charles

One of the things I love most about Spotify is how I used to create a playlist that summed up my favourite tracks of each month, more often than not those songs become entwined with what was going on and how I felt at the time. This track is from my May 2012 playlist, a summer I look back on with a lot of sepia-toned warmess and nostalgia – summed up by this track.

Pick of the Week #4

Looking for some more pics? Check out the back catalogue: #1, #2 and #3.

Book: When The World Was Ours by Liz Kessler

This was one of the most powerful novels I’ve read in a long time. Very much inspired by a real story, we follow three young friends in 1936 Vienna. They’re 9 years old and their friendship is the most important thing in their lives, they have no idea of the darkness spreading across Europe that will cause their lives to go in drastically different directions. A masterpiece.

TV: Dead Pixels (All4)

Channel 4 just dropped all of series 2 on All4, which means you’ve now got 12 episodes of this really charming show to watch. It’s a sitcom about three gamers that’s as addictive as the game they’re playing. Although there’s a lot of poking fun at their obsessive gaming, it really does come from a place of affection as opposed to laughing at fandoms. It’s so well performed and with a script that’s as sharp & quotable as The It Crowd.

Film: Three Identical Strangers (All4)

Aged 19, Bobby Sharfran arrived for his very first day at college. Every single person he came across greeted him like an old friend, calling him by the wrong name and showing immense surprise that ‘he’d changed his mind and decided to come back for the new academic year.’ And that’s how Bobby found out he had a twin brother – the first of many incredible, shocking, and dark discoveries. An incredible documentary that has to be seen to be believed.

Song: Don’t Leave Me This Way by The Communards

The past week, I’ve really gone down a rabbit hole of 80s’ music. There’s something about that time period where the music really captured the same mood of now  – a desperation to find light within the darkness, how music can spark joy when it is most needed. That’s why I’ve gone for this banger, which I dream of once again booging away to on a dance floor – the aisles of my local Tesco really don’t count…

Pick of the Week #3

TV: Married at First Sight Australia Season Six (All4)

In all honesty, I think this show is the only thing getting me through Lockdown 3.0. My daily routine is watching an episode at 7.30pm on E4 and I’m not sure how I’d cope without it. The show follows 12 couples who literally met for the first time at the alter – after being paired up by ‘experts using ‘science’. There’s no way I can do what follows any justice by describing it to you, the dramas that occur are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. This is total must-see television.

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

When Graham runs into Elspeth, his first wife, after leaving her over a decade ago for Audra, his now-second wife, he finds his already overloaded life of day-to-day difficulties and delights of marriage and raising a child with Asperger’s is given another layer to worry about – How can anyone love two such different women? Did he make the right choice? Is there a right choice? Funny, feelgood and addictive reading.

End of Watch (BBC)

There are countless buddy-cop action movies, but this one really is a bit different. Longtime LAPD partners and friends, Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) patrol one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Los Angeles. When they run afoul of a vicious Mexican cartel, their lives and those of their loved ones are under threat like never before. The really impressive thing about this one is how it’s shot, placing you firmly in the action.

Mitski – Your Best American Girl

In July 2019 I was in a pretty grim place mentally. On one walk home I had Spotify on shuffle and this track, from the soundtrack of I film I love – Hearts Beat Loud – came on. I’d not really listened to it before, but it was everything I needed to listen to in that precise moment – a song about identity, self-expectation and self-acceptance.  It builds and soars, as jagged as it is graceful, starting off indie and going into punk with synths. Musical catharsis at it’s most pure.

What David Bowie Meant To Me

I first wrote this piece on the day David Bowie died, the January 10th 2016. I planned to share it again on what would have been his birthday, January 8th, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Now I’ve relocated it, I’m sharing again as it’s one of the pieces I’m most proud of – mainly as it’s so heartfelt and personal. Enjoy!

What David Bowie meant to me. I know there’s going to be hundreds of these, thousands even, that was the power of the man. But I equally feel the need to remember and thank the man I never knew who made such an impact on my life.

My first memory of hearing his music was in the car (the origin of most of my musical findings) aged 9 on the journey from Eastbourne to Legoland. My dad put on what we’ve since identified to be a cassette of ‘Best of Bowie 1969/1974. That moment of hearing ‘Rebel Rebel’ for the first time. My confusion at who he was singing about, his alternating of pronouns. The fact that even though I didn’t know the words (and wouldn’t for years to come) I could still sing along with the chorus, ‘Doo doo doo-doo doo doo.” I demanded that we listen to it on the way home too.

That was it for a few years. My musical allegiances (for better or worse) were with the often-barren wasteland of Top 40. A brief stint of loyalty to dance music concluding ‘coincidently’ with my growing fear of school. I hated it. Even the thought of school filled me with total and utter dread (the irony that I’m now a school teacher is not lost on me!) I feigned sickness, pretending all manner of illnesses so that I didn’t have to go into school. My attendance during year 11 dropped to 60%. Only now do I realise I wasn’t faking illness, but the fact illness could be mental and not just physical was an unknown entity. That’s when Bowie, in the form of Ziggy Stardust, reappeared.

He looked just as a strange as I felt I did, and he had the same hair colour as me! I could plug into his music and be transported, healed by his words and drift away to a world that scared me a little less than the one I lived in.A musical obsession started to form as I delved deeper into his back catalogue and idolised every song, quote and image I discovered. I even renamed (and have kept) my phone’s bluetooth as Major Tom and my laptop as Ground Control. At University when my taste started to remould, and my a petulance for the 1950s emerged, there was The Thin White Duke. A late-in-life discovery of Labyrinth soon after.

Then came the first six months of 2014. They were the darkest days I had ever felt and they had come out of nowhere. It felt like an inescapable black cloud was above me, carrying around an incomprehensible weight on my shoulders, leaving me as an empty void. A shell of my former self. I was desperate. Scared. Hopeless. That’s when Bowie proved he still had more to give me- calling out “You’re not alone” during ‘Rock and Roll Suicide’. Recovering from that time in my life wasn’t made easier by that song, nothing can make that internal battle ‘easier’, but it was a bright speck, a light in a world that seemed so dark and so lonely.

So yes, I feel bitter and sad. Angry even, that I’ll never get to see him perform. The ‘what would I do if I met David Bowie’ fantasy no longer has the same relevancy or potency. But his music is still here. His art is still here. And I’m beyond thankful that I’m lucky enough to have found an artist who I connected with so strongly, who emboldened me when I felt that I couldn’t go on. Whose music possess the power to send me to the dancefloor no matter how sober I am or how empty the dancefloor is. We may have lost a legend but I, we, haven’t lost that legacy.

Dating Bio

A burst of inspiration made me decide to write a dating profile that most accurately represents me. Enjoy! Applications will be considered and very much appreciated.

Vacancy available for wintertime crush turned romantic interest. Option is available for the role to be undertaken virtually, until an in-person option is possible.

The potential love interest (who, from hereon in, will be referred to as PLI) you are applying to date is 6ft, has red hair, wears primarily vintage clothing, works in a secondary school and is obsessed with all things pop culture – primarily, but not exclusively, books, tv, music and films.

Things you should know about PLI:

  • Has a nifty ability to guess the song from just a few seconds of hearing, but also has an annoying habit of then announcing the name and artist to whomever they are with – even if that person has no interest in this information.
  • Is a massive fan of puns. Particularly bad puns. Has decided to keep track of their top five for reasons unknown.
  • Loves to Cross Stitch, has an impressive collection of crafting materials and constantly has all manner of them strewn about.
  • Is rarely spotted without at least one book on their person.
  • Is at their happiest in their natural habitat – cinemas and bookshops. However, PLI is also known to enjoy spending long nights at the pub with their nearest and dearest. The same applies for going to the theatre and comedy shows.
  • Is drawn to finding and trying the weirdest snacks possible. Has an usual compulsion to try blue food where possible – again, there is little apparent reasoning for this.

Should your application be successful, please bear in mind the following things that PLI must avoid at all costs (in order of causing most peril to PLI):

  • Wax Models
  • Bananas
  • Penicillin
  • Spiders

Thank you for reading this job description and for considering applying for the role. PLI looks forward to hearing from you and commencing a love affair for the ages.

100 Days of Covid

As one of the leading minds in the field of overthinking, I’d given a lot of thought to if/when I caught Covid-19. I’d run through all sorts of scenarios and had – eventually – deescalated myself to the thought that if I did catch it, I’d push through it. I’d be ill but, statistically speaking, I should be alright. Ish. I was 28, walked to and from work (amounting to about an hour a day), had just started doing 3 dance classes a week (turns out 80s aerobics was the answer) and had no underlying health conditions. I hadn’t quite accounted for my knack of being the odd one out, the un/lucky one who stumbles into drama and situations that ‘probably’ shouldn’t be possible.

It started off feeling hay fever. I was near certain that was it was – it was the same kind of itchiness around the eyes and nose. Not uncommon for me, so I popped a couple of Loratadine (a specific type I have to take due to allergies that caused my face to swell up on one memorable occasion – see, I’m already proving my earlier point) and went to bed. It was a Sunday night so any not-feeling-right could be written off as the Dread.

I woke up in the early hours with the kind of sore throat that could only be described as having swallowed glass, that was the extent of the burning – as if something was ribbing at my throat. After taking some painkillers and spending several hours on failed attempts to go back to sleep, I called in sick – although I barely had a voice to leave the message explaining my absence.

 Then a runny nose joined proceedings. Brilliant. I spent hours googling Covid symptoms, but runny noses and sore throats were varying (low) degrees on the ‘uncommon symptoms’ scale.  I’d just have to roll with it.

Cut to the early hours of Tuesday and I wasn’t getting any better. In fact, I was pretty sure things were getting worse. My incredible awful habit of googling symptoms resulted in no answers and no peace. That was when the coughing started. An unwelcome arrival that has truly outstayed it’s welcome, as I still have it – I can say with some certainty and authority that 100 days straight of coughing sounds as painful as it feels, but I’ll get to that later.  

That was when I started to get a bit scared, more so on what the right thing to do would be. I’d spent the past 24 hours doing random taste and smell tests to check everything was in working order (can safely say there was a reason we left behind the cinnamon challenge in 2012). But surely, as the advice seemed to be, it was better to get tested just in case? It took eight attempts at filling in the labyrinthian form to finally get a message beyond ‘no tests available’, although attempts 8 and 9 offered me a testing centre 5 miles away – even though I’d already ticked the ‘I don’t have access to a car box.’ Attempt 10 offered me a testing centre a 30 min walk away. Over the past 100 days, there are real stand-out snapshot moments that I can think about again and just feel with every fibre of my being. That walk is one of them (a walk I did at the quietist time possible, and I avoided crossing paths with a single person). I genuinely don’t know how I got to the testing centre, at this point my body was aching, I was sweating all over yet was bitterly cold to my bones, and I was now really scared.

I’d researched the test, watched the video and read as many instructions guides and top tips I could find. The testing centre was empty, with me being the only person being tested the entire time I was there. I wanted to get it all done quickly – as observed my the person appointed to oversee my test who said ‘It’s almost like you don’t want to be here, how speedy you are!’ Any ‘duh!-ness’ I felt entitled to feel in response swiftly evaporated when he explained where in my throat had to put the swab and I asked ‘Not the dangly-dang that swings in the back of my throat?’ I don’t think he twigged the unintended WAP reference…

The rest of Tuesday and Wednesday passed by. One minute I was sure I was getting better, and the result would unquestionably be negative. The next I’d be certain that I was in fact quite ill, more so that I wanted to admit. Yes, I was definitely very tired, but the my ever-permanent wave of anxiety had been dialled to 11.

Thursday morning resulted in the text message informing me that I had tested positive for Covid-19. To describe it as a shock would be an understatement. The next 10 days are a bit of haze. I was beyond tired, now fully aware of what fatigued meant and felt like. I was permi-frustrated, at being stuck in my room and having ‘failed’ by getting sick. I was scared that I could have passed it onto anyone I’d come into contact with the prior week, which provided a weighty amount of guilt that was only lifted by hearing the few who counted as close contacts – including my housemate – had all tested negative. I’d have bursts of energy, when I’d feel fine and normal. But then, within the same hour, I could find myself unable to lift my head from the pillow.

That was when the really brutal coughing took up residence. It genuinely bogles my brain at how much phlegm (yellow, occasionally green – as I have been asked my medical professionals countless times at this point. It’s a deep cough (no daintiness for me!), it’s painful and it’s winding. Persistent is an understatement, omnipresent and omnipotent would do it slightly better justice. And, as recently as last week, it has resulted in violent vomiting.  It destroyed my sleep habits and has limited my life in ways previously beyond my comprehension.

After 10 days you’re told you’re no longer contagious and can go back to work. And, while I didn’t fell ‘well’ in any sense of the word, I thought I was ‘enough’. One major thing should have happened during this time, which would in near-certainty delayed my decision to return to work.  It was the fact my doctor should have been notified of my positive test result and been in touch to help create a care plan, or at the very least just check-in. Having been the first person I knew to get sick, I didn’t know of this fact. I presumed everyone who had Covid still felt a bit rough afterwards, but just got on with it.

I have many fatal flaws, one of which is my ability to just get on with things when everything indicates that that really shouldn’t be the case. I’m scarily adaptable to my surroundings if I’m doing what I’ve convinces myself is the ‘right thing to do’. (This does make me the human embodiment of the ‘this is fine’ meme with the dog sat in the chair surrounded by fire…) I went back to work, for 8 days. 8 days which increasingly shrank in length as I was getting weaker and more out-of-sorts. I’d returned to work knowing my newly imposed limitations in terms of walking around, how little I could do physically and how brain fog was impeding on finishing far too many sentences and trains of thought. The coughing increased and took over, the frequency of which I lost my breath and just couldn’t get it back became truly terrifying.

I was sent home by my line manager. Entering my flat at 11.30am on a weekday, I felt like a failure. I was clearly unfit for purpose. Another one of my fatal flaws is my adamant certainty and fear that I am not enough, this all -played wonderfully into that neurosis… At this point I had worked myself up into what can euphemistically describe as ‘quite a state’ and brought on a panic attack. The combination of psychologically being unable to breathe meets physically being unable to breath was a paralysing clash of the titans. All I knew was I needed medical help urgently. I talked myself out of calling 999 and went with 111, although I was reluctant to do even that as I felt like I didn’t want to be an inconvenience (third neurosis identified, writing this really is therapeutic it turns out…)

In retrospect, I find it rather darkly hilarious thinking back to that phone call, trying to speak when I couldn’t quite breathe – I promise I didn’t feel that way at the time. At all. It wouldn’t be the last time I’d call 111 – although it would be the most productive – and yet I remain baffled than anyone with a respiratory disorder has to describe their symptoms multiple times to different people. When every breath feels previous, wasting it on repeating the same answers to different people as there’s no centralised system for recording the responses is one of the many, many ludicrous things I’ve found over these months.

A call back from a local GP, who announced titbit about how my GP should have been in contact previously, resulted in my own GP giving me a call. He prescribed an inhaler, antibiotics and a sick note for the following 10 days – with the disclaimer that there was very little advice for them with what to do with patients suffering from Covid. He was, however the first person to describe me as having Long Covid. I would later ask him to look into the highly published research into Long Covid Clincs, he found and referred me to one – it took 3 weeks to get the referral from the hospital and my attempt to book informed me of the 18-week waitlist but to ‘call us on this number if you don’t hear from us by December 11th.’ I gave them a call on December 15, only to be told by a firm but frazzled nurse that they will get in touch with me in late Jan. (Side note: When reporting a fact back like this to your GP, avoid thoughtlessly accompanying it with the phrase ‘And if I’m still sick by then, I don’t know what I’ll do. It led to some difficult questions…)

After confirming with the doctor that it was safe for me and anyone I came into contact with, I returned home to my parent’s house. The past month had been terrifying on my own. It’s an understatement to say I had no energy to cook for myself, or even really look after myself. My convalescence had started at the hotel of mum and dad.

Then the Sunday night happened. That’s another snapshot moment, but I desperately don’t want to dwell on this one. It was the sickest I felt and the lowest, I was also adamant things really weren’t right. My mum stayed up all night with me, sleep was impossible. I was chucked from pillar-to-post by 111, answering the same questions to multiple people and getting no closer to actual medical advice. Come 8am I was put through to a wonderful and warm receptionist at a drop-in clinic, she put me through to the GP who told me in no uncertain terms to go to A&E immediately.

I distinctly remember the fear of not wanting to go in, as I didn’t believe I’d leave hospital. At the very least, I who knew when I’d return home. There was also the uncertainty of what I would see in hospital, I had all manner of visions of how awful the scene awaiting me would be.  The receptionists at A&E were uncertain how to categorise me so popped me in the Covid ward – alarmingly yet understandably named The Red Zone. I was escorted by a nurse to a bed which had protective curtains pulled closely tight. My fellow patients, I overhead, were 83-year-old Arthur and 95-year-old Constance.

I had an attentive doctor, busy but kind nurses, who ensured I had all my vitals checked. Lots of blood work, a chest xray and two ECG – the first resulted in concerns over the state of my heart, the second warnings from the doctor to look after my heart. The snapshot from the day I spent there, after being deemed okay enough to go home but only under the proviso I took great care, is during the chest xray. The radiographer brought a portable X-ray to my bed, setting it all up she then asked if ‘I was wearing an underwired bra.’ As I was, she politely turned around as I performed the nifty taking your bra off under your shirt trick that is instilled in anyone who ever had to use a communal changing room during secondary school pe. Except, I hadn’t adjusted my vest top back and so my right breast flopped out of the top. She ducked, almost for cover, in an attempt to protect my modesty. At this point I gave precisely zero shits about anything, I was beyond shame at that point, and just heaved it back into my top.

This wouldn’t be the last time that area of my body would make a performance. About a month later I would go onto sprain that very same breast due to coughing so much – yes, apparently that is a thing. I’m sure there’s a scientific term for the specific muscle I pulled, but my amused doctor diagnosed it well enough during a phone call when I described it as the ‘side boob.’

If I were to describe the past 100 days in chapters, in terms of mood & symptoms, post-A&E visit until now are pretty much the same chapter. It’s also experiencing this chapter that most made me want to write about it all. Having Covid, and it’s Long Covid variant, has taken over my life. In fact it pretty much blew most of it up. This year has seen everyone’s lives become smaller in most ways – limiting what we can do, where we can go and who we can do it with. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to get smaller than that, yet it has. For most of the past 100 days, the aftereffects of Covid have been the prevailing thought dictating almost everything. I’m permanently fatigued with achievable physical activity minimal. My lungs are vocal in their contribution, almost audible in their answering ‘No, you’re not able to do that.’ In answer to everything.  I have to negotiate, plan and prioritise – what needs to be done, can it wait, if I do that now I won’t be able to do that later.

I have brain fog, that comes in unpredictable hazes of varying degrees of depth. Last week I forgot the word for ‘dye’ so had to ask the bemused shop assistant where I could ‘Find the substance that turns clothing from one colour to another’ – a verbose if needlessly complicated sentence….

I’m also angry. I’m angry all of the time and with a ferocity I never thought possible. I’m angry that I’m no longer a resident in my own body, but a tenant restricted with all manner of rules and limited capacity. I’m angry that I have no idea when I can undertake a short walk without needing to sit down for hours afterwards and also not risk a vomit-inducing coughing fit. I’m angry that I’ve had new symptoms develop the past few weeks where my joints ache and my muscles sting. I’m angry that I can sit in a chair and feel some semblance of normality yet moving to another destination can be winding and require recovery time – even if the ‘journey’ was just a slow walk down corridor or hallway. Not to mention the fact I can’t remember the last time I saw a flight of stairs as anything other as a Herculean test of strength and wills.

I’m beyond thankful that there are hundreds of way it could have been worse, and that this is the hand I got dealt – a brutal one but there are others in far worse positions. I’m thankful for the amazing family and friends who stepped in – from messages to check-in through to cards and gifts in the post to supply my seemingly endless craving of snacks. I’m thankful I’ve only had to worry about getting myself better, with no dependents who rely on me.

And yet, more than anything, I just really want my life back. I want to feel like me again, not an assemblance of symptoms and broken parts that is barely held together. 100 days of Covid has been 100 days of feeling as if I’ve been stamped as ‘Unfit for Purpose’. In amongst all of this physical pain, I feel like I’d lost myself in the process. To quote my beloved The Ramones, I just really Wanna Be Well.

Tv Tuesday #4

One sentence summary – 3 suggestions of tv shows you may have missed and will probably love. Are you not entertained? Give #1, #2, #3 a try.

Yonderland (2013-2016 : 22 x 25 mins : Sky/Now TV )

If you love/d Horrible Histories and love Ghosts, then this one is for you. Blending fantasy and comedy, with puppets (and ‘everybody loves puppets’!) we follow married mum-of-two Debbie (Martha Howe-Douglas) as she finds out she is The Chosen One of a far away land hidden in her cupboard – a role which comes with all sorts of duties including saving Yonder Land itself. The whole HH gang are present and accounted for (Simon Farnaby, Mathew Baynton, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond) in this witty and warm tv series. Sidenote: If this video was an intrinsic part of your teenage awakening – as it was for me – please do let me know…

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015-2019 : 64 x 42 minutes : Netflix)

‘I was/ Working hard at a New York job/ Making dough, but it made me blue/ One day, I was crying a lot/ And so I decided to move to/ West Covina, California/ Brand-new pals and new career/ It happens to be where Josh lives/ But that’s not why I’m here…’ And with that, the lyrics of the opening theme song, you’ve got the gist of this show – except you have no idea of the heartbreaking joy that awaits you. Co-creator, co-write and lead  Rachel Bloom does a phenomenal job of conveying so much of what it means to be a 21st Century woman. The story starts with Rebecca Bunch (Bloom) moving to the aforementioned West Covina to ‘not’ follow her old boyfriend, but it’s about so much more – plus incredibly well written and accurate songs about the gender disparity in getting ready, confusing relationship dynamics, <a href="http://<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/brzZQBSVMX0&quot; frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>facing your fears, <a href="http://<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uic_3vlI5BE&quot; frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>mental health and heavy boobs. Oh, and this total banger.

GameFace (2017-2019 : 12 x 24 minutes : All4)

Created and co-written by lead Roisin Conaty, we follow her character Marcella as she deals with all manner of life rejections – love and career – where the only constant is her driving lessons with Jon (Damien Molony). A funny and sweet love story plays out, using some familiar romcom tropes in a slightly more realistic and believable manner. The final episode of series 2 has one of my favourite pieces of dialogue in recent televisual history.

TV Tuesday #3

If you are also binging on good telly as a surviving mechanism for the unholy trinity that is it getting dark at 4pm, crappy weather and Lockdown 2.0 – I hope this series helps. Each week I’ll pick a trio of tv delights which you may not have seen before. Or you may have seen them before and I tempt you into a rewatch. There’s no rhyme or reason to each week’s picks, just things I spot on my streaming site travels that tickle my fancy. Here’s editions #1 and #2 if you’re in need of even more to choose from.

Crashing (2016 : 6 x 30 mins : Netflix/All4)

Last week I talked about Michela Cole’s fantastic sophomore project Chewing Gum. This week I’m talking about Phoebe Waller-Bridge‘s tv debut as writer-director. Crashing is a comedy series following the lives of six 20- and 30-somethings living together as property guardians of a large, disused hospital. And it is superb. Fans of Fleabag will see lots of now-familiar tropes within it, particularly in how Waller-Bridge manages to explore relationships in such a bittersweetly-nihilistically-hopeful manner. Such a shame it only had one series, but so good that we got that at all. I have such fondness for this show, and I really do urge you to give it a go.

Try this if you like: Fresh Meat, Fleabag, Lovesick, This Way Up, Derry Girls

Outcry (2020 : 5 x 70 mins : SkyGo/ NowTv)

Showtime really know how to put on a good tv miniseries, and this one is no exception. This five-part documentary series examines the gripping story of high school football star Greg Kelley who was arrested, convicted and jailed for sexual assault of a 4-year-old boy, and his supporters’ quest for truth and justice. I’m loathe to go into too-much detail as to why this makes for such compelling watching – such is my want not to spoil things. What I will say, this will have you hooked, horrified and outraged throughout and long after watching.

Try this if you like: The Vow, Defending Jacob, When They See Us, The Jinx

In The Flesh (2013-2014 : 9 x 60 mins : BBC iPlayer)

BBC3 regularly gets ridden off rather snobbishly with all manner of presumptions made about it’s content. If you’re in any doubt to the wonderful shows it has made and continues to produce, then rectify it with this. Four years after the Rising, the government starts to rehabilitate the Undead for reentry into society, including teenager Kieren Walker, who returns to his small Lancashire village to face a hostile reception, as well as his own demons. Whilst a zombie drama, this is more human than something like The Walking Dead – it’s quieter, more drama than action although not without a tense sequence it tends to focus more on the aftermath. Bitterly profound and immensely beautiful.

Try this if you like: Being Human, The Returned, The Fades, London Spy

Something-To-Watch Saturday #6 : Halloween Edition

Six weeks in and it’s time for the first themed edition. With 7 days to go to Halloween, here’s 7 films to set the mood. If Halloween isn’t for you, check out the previous five editions here #1 #2 #3 #4 #5.

What We Do In The Shadows (2014 – 86 mins – Amazon Prime)

‘I go for a look which I call “dead but delicious”…’ One of last week’s picks was Taika Waititi‘s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, an adventure romp involving a rebellious kid and his foster father going on the run in the New Zealand bush. This was Waiti’s preceding film, co-directed with Jemaine Clement. An endlessly entertaining mockumentary about an illusive household of vampire roommates. Time for first watch if you’ve not seen it already or, if you have, then it’s time for another rewatch. Then, you’ve got two series of the tv spin-off to follow-up with (20 episodes all on BBC iPlayer). Always remember, ‘werewolves not swearwolves’.

Cabin In The Woods (2011 – 95 mins – Amazon Prime)

Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for, discovering the truth behind the cabin in the woods. Think you’ve seen all those tropes done before? Not like this you haven’t… The script, by writers Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, is wonderfully knowing and satirical. The end result is an immensely entertaining (and occasionally frightening) ride.

Ghost Stories (2017 – 98 mins – BBC iPlayer)

Based on the stage show, also by writer-director duo Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, Ghost Stories is a creepy slow-burn about skeptical professor Phillip Goodman (Nyman) as he embarks on a trip to the terrifying after being given a file with details of three unexplained cases of apparitions. Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse and Alex Lawther are the three men who test Phillip’s beliefs and push him to the very edge.

Addams Family Values (1993 – 94 mins – Netflix)

Although this is the sequel (with 1991 The Addams Family also on Netflix), this one has slightly more bite and has an even bigger place in my heart as we follow the eponymous Family try to rescue their beloved Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) from his gold-digging new love, a black widow named Debbie (a scene-stealing Joan Cusack). Morticia (Anjelica Huston) and Gomez (Raul Julia) continue to be couple goals for the ages. A fantasy comedy suitable for all ages.

Corpse Bride (2005 – 77 mins – Netflix/ Amazon Prime)

This week’s underrated romcom slot goes to a wonderful animated necrophiliac musical directed by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson. When a shy groom (Johnny Depp) practices his wedding vows in the inadvertent presence of a deceased young woman (Helena Bonham Carter), she rises from the grave assuming he has married her. The animation is exquisite, the songs captivating and the macabre story is told with just the right amount of sweet and spook.

Hereditary (2018 – 127 mins – Netflix)

I first saw this with my friend Sarah at Sundance London, months before release and knowing nothing about it. My most distinct memory of watching it was turning to Sarah, at what was probably mid-way through, and whispering ‘When will this all be over..?!?’ Not because it’s a bad film, but because I was really feckin’ scared! Fantastically performed, well told and packed full of hauntingly tense sequences.

A Quiet Place (2018 – 90 mins – Netflix)

Another one of those films that makes me nostalgic for sold-out cinema screens packed full of people truly immersed in the film experience. This one truly relied on an audience adhering to an unspoken (lol) code of making no noise during the film. If you were lucky enough to have that happen, this would have been such a magnificent experience. It holds up on the small screen too, just as entertainingly scary as it was on release. The sequel was due to come out in the UK March 20th 2020 but has been pushed back to April 23rd 2021, making it one of the many unmissable films that await us next year.

Something-To-Watch Saturday #5

Are you new around here? Then let me catch you up. Every Saturday I’ll be publishing a list of 7 movie suggestions of films from various streaming sites, saving you time and decision-making by helping you decide what to watch. Like what you see, then just leave a comment. Want even more suggestions? Check out issues #1, #2, #3 and #4.

The Princess Bride (1987 – 98 mins – Amazon Prime)

To start with, I’m chucking out the big guns. My favourite film of all-time. If you know me, you know this fact already – you’ve probably heard me harp on about it enough. A film that is as funny as it is charming as it is romantic. This is a film perfect for every mood, with truly medical qualities. Here’s a piece I wrote for Den Of Geek about why I love it so much.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014 – 113 mins – Amazon Prime)

Easily one of the finest science fiction movies of the past decade, think Groundhog Day meets Independence Day – where a soldier (Tom Cruise) fighting aliens gets to relive the same day over and over again, the day restarting every time he dies. His fellow soldier (Emily Blunt), may just be the answer to saving both he and the entire world.

Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016 – 101 – Amazon Prime)

I first saw this movie at Genesis Cinema (East London), a month prior to it’s release – in screen 4 with an audience made up of folk from New Zealand and Australia. It was the perfect audience for such a hysterically funny film. A comedy adventure film set when a national manhunt is ordered for a rebellious kid Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) and his foster uncle Hec (Sam Neill) who go missing in the wild New Zealand bush. ‘ I didn’t choose the skuxx life, the skuxx life chose me.’

Man Up (2015 – 88 mins – BBC iPlayer)

This week’s underseen romantic comedy slot goes to this gem of a Brit flick. Nancy (Lake Bell) is in her mid-30s, fed up of being single but also fed up of her friend’s awful attempts at set-ups. After literally bumping into Jack (Simon Pegg), who believes she’s the woman he’s meant to be headed on a date with, Nancy decides not to correct him and go on the date. A night they’ll never forget soon follows. Wonderfully written by Tess Morris, this is a seriously funny film with a fantastic ensemble cast. Adhering to romcom tropes, yet playing wonderfully with them, any film that has a dance-off to this tuuuune has me sold.

Southside With You (2016 – 84 mins – BBC iPlayer)

Sometimes, when present day politics terrifies me (aka, most days) I think about the Barack Obama era, with the same degree of nostalgia one would an ex partner who you ended things with on mutually respecting yet loving terms. Should you be the same, this is an indie gem for you. It’s a fictionalised account of the first date between Barack (Parker Sawyers) and Michelle (Tika Sumpter). Understated, charming and really endearing.

The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019 – 119 mins – Amazon Prime)

Armando Iannucci deciding to follow up the scathing satire The Death of Stalin with a Dickens adaptation felt like something of a choice. Thankfully, we any doubts were kicked away within the film’s opening moments. From then on it’s a charming and hilarious riot of laugher, that had me grinning like the Cheshire Cat the entire time. Dev Patel is the eponymous David in a riches-to-rags-to-riches-to-rags tale starring Peter Capaldi, Gwendoline Christie, Morfydd Clark, Daisy May Cooper, Hugh Laurie, Anna Maxwell Martin, Tilda Swinton, Paul Whitehouse, Ben Whishaw and Benedict Wong. Click here to read my film review.

Life, Animated (2016 – 92 mins – Netflix)

If you were to ask me the oddly specific question, ‘What are you favourite five documentaries of all time?’, this would definitely be making an appearance. A story that hits me on a personal level (as I mention here), we follow Owen Suskind as he gets ready to leave his family home and move away to live on his home for the first time. It’s a situation his parents’ would never have foreseen when he stopped suddenly speaking aged 3 and a diagnosis of autism soon followed. This is a film about the magic of parents and of Disney – two powerful forces that should never be underestimated.