Hello regular reader, this is Sam. Normally, as you know, I tend to write a lot of excessively ambitious, dream led pieces on either a) the state of theatre and how we make it better or b) the shit gig I’ve had. I appreciate that that they are very different, but they are both also a little bit dark – they centre around dissatisfaction with the status quo, or something I’ve done wrong or something else incredibly thought provoking but ultimately glum. And I’m not glum. Not all the time. That’s why today I’m writing a list of 10 things I unexpectedly like to share with you so that you can discover something new.
#1 – Seville and particularly Perroquets
I went on holiday to Spain a few months ago and it was lovely but the main talking point between me and Louise was my obsession with Perroquets (or parrots). There’s something magical about seeing a parrot in a tree, outside, not in a cage and then see it fly up into a flock of parrots as if there’s been some sort of mass escape from a pet shop. Love it. See them live in Seville.
#2 – Ben Fold’s album So There.
I really like this album, quite a bit more than his last few if I’m honest. It’s relaxing, the songs have the sort of retrospective melancholy mixed with with that really appeals to me. It’s really interesting to go through Ben Fold’s albums year by year and chart the progression from Piano Punk Pop Rock to Orchestral Ballad (and Symphony) writer.
#3 – Richard Hawley
I was taken to see Richard Hawley against my will. I didn’t know who he was, what he did or why, frankly, I should be forced to stand in a queue of people who looked like older, slightly more downbeat versions of, well, me. Turns out I can see into the future, and to accomplish this I have to go to a Richard Hawley gig. The music is great, light rock music for people who like sitting and nodding at gigs rather than jumping around like a lunatic.
#4 – Pesto chicken spaghetti
Spitroast, a takeaway near my house is a pretty brilliant thing. They sell, as I’m sure you’d guess Spitroasted Chickens (opposed to being a base for low-grade pornography). They have the usual list of a full chicken, a half chicken, the full Sunday Roast (which is huge), but then they also have Pesto Chicken Spaghetti. It’s lovely. Really good pasta, nice pesto, freshly spitroasted chicken, Parmesan and sun dried tomatoes. It’s a great takeaway and doesn’t make you feel bad 2 minutes after you’ve finished eating.
#5 – Making Focaccia
It’s really hard but I love it (said the bishop to the… ahem). I watch The Great British Bake Off and I love it. About 2 years ago I watched an episode where the technical challenge was Focaccia. Dead easy I thought, I’ll do that now. And so started my quest to make a good focaccia. So far after about 40+ attempts they have, universally turned out (or in at least 10 times, not turned out), as flat, grim, horrible tasting planks of breadwood. But it’s incredibly relaxing to make, even if the taste of my finished result makes you wince and grimace.
#6 – Hot Chocolate from Furrow
Furrow is a little cafe on Allerton Road which is an offshoot of the Baltic Bakehouse. They sell, lovely bread, delicious sticky buns (which I am eating as I write this) and also hot chocolate. It is rich and creamy and delicious. However even more satisfying is that some parents told their kid on a table over from me that he couldn’t have one, so I order one straight away to torment them. Extra cream, yes I will.
#7 – Star Wars T-shirts
I was bought a Star Wars t-shirt as part of a secret santa a few years ago and it was, by far, the best secret santa I have ever got. This t-shirt has been worn close to oblivion and has now been supplemented my my girlfriend purchasing me other ones so that I can legitimately say I now have a collection.
#8 – The words “Galling”, “Calligraphy” and “Plop”
Okay, three words which I like for different reasons. “Galling” I like because if you drop it in a conversation people look at you as if Shakespeare or Wordsworth was in their company – it lightens any sentence and makes you seem twice as smart as normal. “Calligraphy” is just a hard word to use regularly, unless you work in the pen section of WHSmiths, but when you do get to say it, it’s deeply satisfying. “Plop” is simple – imagine Rowan Atkinson, now imagine him saying “Plop”. You’re smiling now right?
#9 – Oxfam Book Shops
I like going to Oxfam book shops, yes largely there’s a lot of Dan Brown (it’s an easy way to realise that noone enjoyed reading Deception Point) and Ben Elton (Does every house in the country have 2 copies of Popcorn?) but sometimes you stumble upon a gem. Playscripts are favourites of mine because invariably they are annotated from long past amateur productions. 5 books for £10. Yes please.
#10 – Earl Grey Tea
I really like Earl Grey Tea. I think it’s because as a child my mum would make pots of tea with two bags – one regular and one Earl Grey. It reminds me of Sundays reading the newspaper before dinner – indoctrinated on flowery tea from a young age.