Some treats for your ears……and your eyes

Hello friends! I hope you are well. As a little thank you for all the positive and supportive messages I received after my last post, I thought I would round up some of my favourite popular culture recommendations for you to enjoy.  I have perfect podcasts, radio, TV and film to brighten up a miserable January. Escape Brexit, Trump and the fact that the Gilmore Girls revival was a huge disappointment and immerse yourself in this little lot.

Podcast, radio, TV and film recommendations for a dreary January
I am going to start with something that I know I’ve recommended before, but it is being repeated from the beginning on Radio 4 extra and I have been re-listening. It turns out that Cabin Pressure is as funny on a second listen as it was the first time. A radio sitcom based in a small charter airline, run by mostly useless staff, Cabin Pressure still makes me laugh out loud. I actually thing it’s  irrelevant what it’s about, the actors are Stephanie Cole, Roger Allum (he of Sarah and duck fame, as well as many other great dramas – I love him!) John Finnemore, who also writes it and is fabulous and the brilliant, pre-fame, Benedict Cumberbatch and they are just a brilliant ensemble. Comedy is such a subjective thing and people often turn their noses up at radio comedy, but I urge you to give this a try. 

Eight years ago I was just starting my maternity leave. Due to lots of owed holiday I had a lovely, long maternity leave before Mini Mck arrived and I clearly remember sitting in my armchair, cosy and warm, on a dark January day, watching Barack Obama’s Inauguration. I cried happy tears and rested my hands on my swollen belly, with a sense of hope. *sigh* Such a contrast to the emotion I feel about the upcoming inauguration ceremony and I know that many of you feel the same. So, I was delighted to stumble upon Malcom Gladwell talking about Trump’s victory and what it means for the future this week. It’s only fifteen minutes long and if you feel as I do, please listen. It is unerringly positive and hopeful, in a way that makes sense and that I haven’t heard from anyone else. 

Finally for your listening pleasure I am going to give another mention to Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode’s film review podcast. I love listening to their wittering and even though I rarely go to the cinema I love hearing about what is out there. I’ve recently joined my WI’s film club. An outing to the cinema once a month for those of us who like films, but don’t always get to go or have people to go with. It’s been lovely to be able to make good suggestions for what we see and to be able to get back to the cinema. 

Speaking of which. Have you been to see La La Land? PLEASE do. I went last night and it was such a treat. Sublime sprang to my mind in the first fifteen minutes. There were some bits that I want to change, but that has not taken away from the fact that I still loved it. An absolutely perfect way to spend a couple of hours, especially when the news is never-endingly depressing. Think Singin’ in the Rain with a modern twist and a lovely chemistry between the two leads. I really hope it wins big at the Oscars, rather than the usual epics that take themselves far too seriously. La la loved it! 

A couple of weeks ago I happened to catch the last ten minutes of The World’s Most Extrodinary Houses and immediately though how much my eldest would love it. He has a bit of a thing for houses and his last google search is often Mansions or something similar. He is very creative, but also has a real flair for maths. I think he’d quite like to be an architect really. It has become our favourite family viewing on a Saturday Afternoon. Both the boys are transfixed and it is perfect if you like to be nosy in other people’s houses. This week’s episode is Coastal Houses, but you can still find the first tow on iplayer. 

So, there you have some lovely things to immerse yourself in on a dreary January evening. There’s only one that you have to leave the house for and I promise you that one will be worth getting wrapped up warm for. 

A ramble and some treats for your ears

Hello friends. How are you all? If you are anything like me, you are probably feeling a little world-weary and fragile this week, after the news from America. The boys now understand a lot more of what they hear in the news and Mini Mck even discusses this stuff with his friends at school, so I have been fielding lots of questions this week. Having to explain to my five year old that of course he can be friends with Child X, even though they have a different colour skin and that yes, he can marry a man when he grows up, if he wants to, because we have the right values of love and friendship, unlike others who are stuck in fearful hate, is a bit heartbreaking if I’m honest. 

On the other hand, the same five year old has also informed me this week that he would like to be President and he would be kind and make the right choices. He also said it would be a good idea if we visited countries that had nice Presidents in the future, so that’s a trip to Canada on the cards, right? I have to admit that the look of bafflement on their faces, when I simplistically explained that the new US Presidient only really likes white people, gave me a warm glow. They just could not wrap their tiny heads around why someone would think like that. 

Anyway, I have some lovely blog posts I need to point you in the direction of, but I shall save those for another day, even though it will make them out of date and instead I thought you might appreciate some treats for your ears. This one is for all of you that need to turn off the news and surround yourself with stories and things that will make you smile and laugh. I think we all need some of that right now, so here are some of the things I’ve been listening to recently. 


Radio 4 seems to have had a bit of an Alan Bennett season in the last couple of weeks, with the utterly sublime reading by the author of his latest diaries. There is nothing more comforting than listening to Bennett witter on about the small things in his life and also his witty take on the wider world. This was followed by a great interview between him and Andrew Marr on Start the Week. I love Start the Week, even when I don’t really understand what they’re talking about. I can feel it literally stretching my brain and making it better, so I’d always recommend it for a listen. 

I was utterly gripped by a podcast that had been recommended to me by my friend, Heather. Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder was such interesting and fantastic story telling. Even though the actual crime was committed thirty years ago, it is still highely relevant today and related to lots of current and even future events. I listened to all ten episodes in about three days. If you were a fan of Seriel, this one could be for you. 

The Guilty Feminist is a new one to me, in fact I only discovered it this week, after someone mentioned it on Twitter and it is truly fabulous. Funny, clever and will have you nodding along and possibly shouting “Hell, Yes!” in parts. I think, this week in particular, I needed something that celebrates women and their fabulousness. It’s definitely going to be one of my must listens from now on. 

Another thing we all could do with this week is our faith in politics, particularly American politics and there’s no better place for that than The West Wing. I’ve been a fan ever since it was on Channel 4 when it first came out. You know, when we used to watch TV week by week at the time it was on and I’ve seen all of it several times since then. The West Wing Weekly is for West Wing nerds to relive this classic TV drama and they have some great interviews too. If you haven’t ever seen The West Wing, might I suggest that now would be an awesome time to start. Put your cynicism aside for 45 minutes and try and pretend that Martin Sheen is the actual President of the United States. 

Finally, a quick word about a couple of friends who have excellent podcasts that you should always be listening to. Kat has returned for the second season of the Blogtacular Podcast, with an interview with Instagram superstar, Sara from Me and Orla. Kate from A Playful Day is also releasing episodes at the moment and this is always a lovely listen, especially in the darker months. It’s a real curl up with a cuppa and blanket kind of podcast. 

So, there we are friends. Some rays of light to soothe you in these fractious times. I hope there is something new for you or at least something you haven’t checked in with for a while. 

Until next time xxxx

Mummy Limited’s Listening Pleasure: The Guest Edition

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I have been terribly remiss at radio recommendations recently, mainly because I haven’t been listening that much. For some reason I crave music at the moment, played loudly with the door open. Perhaps it’s a summer thing, or perhaps it’s a lack of energy thing. Music seems to make me more productive. 

One of the best thing about making recommendations is getting them back and I am delighted to pass my blog over to my fabulous friend, Victoria, today. The student has become the teacher, as these days it is often her telling me what to listen to, not the other way around. If you don’t already, you should also read her blog. Every post is gold.

 

I feel both honoured and a sense of rightness to be writing a listening pleasure post for Emily.  Without her gentle nudging in the right direction, I wouldn’t be the Radio 4 fan that I am, I’d still be one of those people who says I like it in theory but why a rubbish drama always playing when I switch on?  With Emily’s guidance and the judicious use of the iPlayer app, I’m now a fully fledged addict and feel fully qualified to recommend programmes.
First up is The Man Who Saves Life Stories.  This is the kind of programme which makes my heart sing, a perfect little piece of social history. The man in question is a curator at the British Museum who collects diaries as a hobby.  He’s become famous for collecting diaries so people have started to send them to him.  He’s got so many he can no longer fit them in his house so he’s looking to set up a national archive.  The programme follows him as he searches for a home for his collection, but we also get lots of lovely diary snippets and a discussion about the importance of social history.
Another fascinating peek into the lives of others is The Blonde Women of India.  It’s about British women who’ve made their homes in the Indian sub-continent, not as ex-pats, but as fully integrated members of Indian families.  It examines what it’s like to completely take on another culture, which satisfies my travel itch, plus you get to nosy into other people’s marriages.  It’s only half an hour long, but I’d have happily listened for much longer.
I tried to listen to my last choice but my internet connection kept dropping off, so I was mostly frustrated. But I’m still going to recommend it because it’s got a lot of potential.  I love the Food Programme, and have spent many a happy half hour listening to programmes about butter or sourdough bread.  This episode is called Bereavement and Food and it promises to explore the healing power of food and how it can help to remember and recapture memories of those who have died. 
 
I hope you enjoy my recommendations. The baton has been well and truly passed. Will you be next?

Mummy Limited’s Listening Pleasure – The girl crush edition

I’ve had a bit of good fortune in the radio department recently. Mckdaddy turned 40 a couple of weeks ago (how?) and his lovely sister treated him to a iphone dock with speakers that charges your phone as you listen. So, I now have access to iplayer, in my kitchen, in scrummy stereo. It is just bliss, all my favourites while I cook tea and even better, dramas and plays while I do weekend cooking

Anyway, I actually managed to listen to this particular gem ‘live’, I am not quite sure how that happened, but I’m not complaining. 
One of my girl crushes, as you may already know, is writer, Catilin Moran. I was almost beside myself when I saw her having coffee, at the Royal Festival Hall in London, especially when she confirmed it was her in a tweet. I loved her book ‘How to be a Woman’, which made me simultaneously feel militant and laugh out loud. This interview made me want to read it all over again, which I probably will. 
Chain Reaction is an half hour comedy interview show, where one famous person is interviewed by another and then the following week becomes the interviewer to someone else. Like a chain, geddit?
This week the lovely, if somewhat croaky Tim Minchin interviewed Caitlin Moran and it was every bit as good as I’d hoped and this Friday night Moran will be interviewing Jennifer Saunders, which will also be worth a listen and as this is a Friday Night Comedy you can get it as a podcast, in case you haven’t got time to listen this week.
Enjoy!
p.s – I also found that Stephen Fry is back on the radio talking about language in Fry’s English Delight. It’s delightful.

Mummy Limited’s listening pleasure – The bonus edition

I have the radio on for a large part of the day to dip in and out of and I often wonder what makes something worthy of writing a blog post. When does something go beyond mildly interesting to the point where I want to tell you about it. 

It’s the piece that makes me turn up the radio or listen again so that I can fully take it in without the distraction of small children. This week it was finding myself not getting out of my car at the supermarket so that I could listen to a little bit more of Fatima Whitbread talking about her childhood spent mainly in children’s homes, in the same five minutes as Frank Partnoy was talking about his book, Wait – The Useful Art of Procrastination’, surely a must read for those of us who spend many hours in the procrastinators paradise that is the Internet and particularly Twitter. 


Midweek, on Wednesday morning at 9am and repeated in the evening, is nearly always a good listen, it always has an interesting mix of guests that you would never normally hear in the usual round of people plugging their products on TV or on the radio. It’s available as a podcast, as well as on iplayer, so you should be able to get this for longer than a week too.

If you can’t though, you only have until Wednesday and so here are a couple of recommendations for this week of things returning to Radio 4 that I love and will definitely be listening to. Firstly The Long View returns today. It’s a great mix of history and current affairs where Jonathan Friedland of The Guardian compares a recent event with one in history and chats to experts and commentators. There is usually the added bonus of a great actor reading historical bits too, you may suddenly find Prunella Scales or Andrew Sachs popping up. 

The second series that returns this week is Old Harry’s Game, written and starring Andy Hamilton, it’s a sitcom about the devil. He wrote Drop the Dead Donkey and more recently Outnumbered, so needless to say, it’s funny. It returns on Thursday at 6:30pm

Let me know what you thought, if you manage to listen. As ever, I am in no way sponsored by the BBC and this is just stuff I wanted to tell you about. Enjoy.

Mummy Limited’s Listening Pleasure: Pottering to randomness

I haven’t been doing much radio listening recently. I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems that every time I catch part of something interesting which I intend to go back to, I never get the chance. Life is busy, I guess.

However, last Wednesday while Mini Mck was at nursery and Nano Mck was sleeping, I was doing one of my favourite things, pottering in the house, with the back door open and Radio 4 on.

I caught part of something that is now in it’s second series and I remember hearing some of the first and being totally diverted by it.

Don’t Log Off is a series of interviews that Alan Dein has done with people he has connected with through Facebook and Skype. I love the randomness of this programme and the fantastic mixture of the minutiae of people’s lives together with the high level of craziness that is on the Internet. There really are plenty of oddballs pervading the World Wide Web, not us obviously.

It was followed by a really gentle and amusing drama starring June Whitfield, as part of A Month of June. The episode that I caught is no longer on iPlayer, but this week’s is. I haven’t heard it, but it’s got June Whitfield and Barbara Windsor in it. What more do you need to know?

Enjoy