Auld Lang Syne

Well, it's that time of year again. Out with the old, in with the new. I've seen a few people listing their resolutions (all good ones) so thought if I do mine I might stick to them this year. I do feel like something needs to change.

  1. Cook more. Cook better. Eat less. Eat better
  2. Go swimming at least once a week. Go for a walk at lunchtime
  3. Stop giving myself a hard time about everything. Do something about it instead
  4. Do something else/more with my postcards
  5. Turn I like and Nothing To See Here into the sites they really could be
  6. Get more freelance work (all offers gratefully received)
  7. Make more/owe less money
  8. Get a book published
  9. Seriously chuck out all the crap I have lying around
  10. Always have good shoes and a good haircut

Some will be easier than others but I'll try them all. All the best for you and yours. Have a great 2009!

Might be a bit short notice, but Channel 4 are showing Thunderbird 6, the second Thunderbirds film from 1968 tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7.10am. This is a sublimely stylish film, great to watch even if you're not a Thunderbirds fan. The opening sequence (above) sets the tone. It looks beautiful and has a great Barry Gray soundtrack. Well worth getting up early for.

Going through all my photos on Flickr made me realise how much I didn't write about. So instead of a best of 2008, here's some exclusive, never seen before photos (unless you've seen them on Flickr, although I've uploaded some special, like).

Graphical

January - There are hardly any pictures from January. It's always too dark. So here's an outtake from a lunchtime walk along the Broomielaw. Gotta love that big fat font.

Stark Chemist, Gatehouse of Fleet

February - To Dumfries and Galloway, which is good for spotting old shopfronts. This chemists in Gatehouse of Fleet features in the Wicker Man.

03-tunnocks.jpg

March - A photographic ramble through The Barras.

Knap beach

April - A smashing holiday to Somerset/South Wales. This is my new favourite beach at The Knap near Barry Island. Another one for the Beaches set.

Richmond Park Model Boat Club

May - The Richmond Park Model Boat Club (Gorbals side of Glasgow Green) for their open day. They have a little model of the Finnieston Crane and everything.

Hello World

June - Nothing in June went unblogged so here's the ray from Deep Sea World in South Queensferry again. Because I like him.

07-strathaven.jpg

July - A ride on the miniature railway in Strathaven.

Crystal Palace dinosaur

August - A week in that London. We had a lovely afternoon going to The Horniman Museum then wandering about Crystal Palace looking at the dinosaurs.

Rock fish fingers

September - Rock fish fingers in Brighton. I'd never seen the like, only bacon and eggs round our way. So exotic!

India of Inchinnan

October - India of Inchinnan, a beautiful Art Deco factory near Glasgow Airport. It's on a long list of things to write about for Nothing To See Here.

All Greatness Stands Firm in the Storm

November - All Greatness Stands Firm in The Storm, a sculpture by Ian Hamilton Finlay on one of the old bridges over the Clyde.

Nicer

December - It's been another good year. Let's hope 2009 is even nicer.

Happy holidays and all the best for 2009.

Lost and found

I've read a lot of good things about Lost and Found, an animated short film showing on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day on Channel 4. It's an adaptation of Oliver Jeffers' children's book, made by Studio AKA who have a solid track record of great animation. I'm hoping the Christmas madness subsides long enough to watch it. View the trailer or read more at Creative Review.

Thanks to the wonder of last.fm*, I know exactly what I listened to in 2008. I'm too old to care about the music papers, have given up on 6music (apart from Adam and Joe) and have relied on last.fm and Twitter as musical radar.

Most listened to bands

  1. Belle and Sebastian
  2. Stereolab
  3. Blur
  4. The Smiths
  5. The Beach Boys
  6. The Beatles
  7. The Beta Band
  8. The Byrds
  9. The Kinks
  10. The Young Knives

Do more band names begin with a B than any other letter? It seems like quite a conservative list, but most of those bands have been serving me well for 20 years, no need to change now.

Most listened to songs

  1. The Young Knives – Rollerskater
  2. Boney M. – Rasputin
  3. Interpol – Length of Love
  4. Erlend Øye – Sheltered Life
  5. The Beatles – Fixing a Hole
  6. Stereolab – Wow and Flutter
  7. The Dandy Warhols – Everyday Should Be A Holiday
  8. Erlend Øye – A While Ago and Recently
  9. Belle and Sebastian – White Collar Boy
  10. Fleet Foxes – Quiet Houses
  11. Paul McCartney & Wings – Jet
  12. Radiohead – Backdrifts

You could get a good party started with that playlist. There's something in there for everyone. So all year the only new bands I've listened to are Fleet Foxes, Neon Neon, The Shortwave Set and Friendly Fires. Plus new albums by old artists Elbow, Glen Campbell and Grace Jones. The rest of 2008's musical output has totally passed me by. What did I miss?

* Please be my friend. I like seeing what other people are listening to.

I asked what was good on telly back in January and was grateful for some recommendations. This year I watched less tv than ever before, but what I watched I really liked. As there's already enough misery in the world I mainly stick to comedies and the odd reality tv show. I feel like I should apologise for that, but hey, life's too short. This is what I watched in 2008, in no particular order:

  • Reality: The Apprentice (totally hooked on this), Dragon's Den, X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, Masterchef, Celebrity Masterchef, Come Dine With Me, The Restaurant - the competitive food programme was a rich seam of family entertainment; couldn't get attached to anyone in X-Factor after Laura got kicked out. A travesty, I tell you.
  • Comedy: The In-Betweeners, Outnumbered, The IT Crowd, Flight of the Conchords, The Mighty Boosh, Arrested Development, Peep Show, Gavin and Stacey, Benidorm, Lead Balloon, 30 Rock, Big Bang Theory, No Heroes - particularly the first three. I laughed more at The In-Betweeners than anything for a very long time.
  • Drama: Ugly Betty, Doctor Who, Hotel Babylon, Skins - not sure if they count as drama because they're not particularly serious. That's as dramatic as it got though.
  • Documentaries: Magnetic North, The Department Store, Wonderland, the Jamie Oliver "pass it on" thing and some other things on BBC4 probably.
  • Kids: Sorry I've Got No Head, The Slammer, Hedz (on CBBC) - these are all great family shows
  • Culture/Commentary/Current affairs(?): Harry Hill's TV Burp, Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe, Have I Got News For You?, The Culture Show.

Not watched: soaps, property programmes, Big Brother, costume dramas - not that they're bad I just didn't watch them.
Started but not finished: The Wire, Mad Men. I lost interest in Mad Men near the end of the first series. It was bringing down my Sunday night. After so many recommendations from you lot I enjoyed the first series of The Wire but got stuck at the start of series 2. You're all going to tell me to stick with it, aren't you?

Any surprises there? Anything missing? What did you enjoy?

Introduction: Timeline

2008 has been a funny old year for me. Nothing really bad happened, nothing really good happened. Nothing major changed: same house, same job, same number of kids. No one close to me was born or died (obviously people were born and died, but I didn't know them). So I feel a bit flat, having a year that I'm not going to remember for anything in particular. I've resolved to make 2009 amazing though, and am formulating plans to grab it by the scruff of the neck and shake it 'til something good falls out.

Anyway, there's always I like, which is a pleasure. That's a good thing about a blog - once I started looking back through the archives it seemed like a good year after all. They're all good years, really. I haven't had as much time as I'd like to write it so will cram some things into what's left of 2008.


This Is Where We Live from 4th Estate on Vimeo.

This has been well blogged already, for good reason, but if you haven't seen it, This is where we live is a lovely little film made entirely from books. It celebrates the 25th birthday of 4th Estate, so even better, they're all 4th Estate books. There's more about the making of it on the website, beautifully put together by Apt.

Visual aid

I got sent a great book, Visual Aid: Stuff You've Forgotten, Things You Never Thought You Knew and Lessons You Didn't Quite Get Around to Learning by Draught Associates (Black Dog). It's full of lovely diagrams and informatics on all kinds of subjects, exactly as the title says. Flicking through it I learnt some useful things about hats, poker hands, planets and the relative size of fictional spaceships. It's broad enough for kids but smart enough for adults. Useful as a last-minute present for the design-conscious or the hard to please.

Jug of Tea RIP

This is all that remains of Morecambe's iconic Jug of Tea stand. Now demolished, along with its upstanding companion The Arena Funfair in the name of civic improvements. The Jug of Tea Flickr pool has been renamed accordingly. We shall never see its like again, sob.

How are you all doing with Christmas? Done your shopping? Waiting 'til Christmas Eve? Sick of the whole thing? I am almost done so normal non-Christmassy service should be resumed soon, but until then let's get down to the business of Christmas decorations.

RSPB glass birds

Above: Hand-painted bird Christmas decorations from the RSPB. £9.99 for six (via Wee Birdy).

lupin-puddings.jpg

Next up, felt Christmas pudding decorations from Lupin. $12.75 for 2.

Cross-stitched Christmas decoration

And finally, cross-stiched decorations from Fluffplanet, available in a few different designs. 3 for £2. Total bargain. I bought loads of these, they're great.

Floppy disk tags

From Feel Fuzzy (again), floppy disk gift tags. I bet Maurice Moss uses these for his Christmas presents.

There have been so many lovely Oliver Postgate tributes today that it hardly seems necessary to add another, but at the same time, how could I not? I like the way that every talking head has gone straight for their favourite Small Film, which pinpoints their age within a couple of years or so. It's Ivor the Engine that means most to me. I remember Bagpuss vividly, but Gabriel, Professor Yaffle, Madeleine and the others were an odd bunch. The noises The Clangers made drove my mum mad, so they were never on, but everyone in da house loved Ivor. He was so gentle and so green. From youtube, here's the first episode.

Fitzpatrick's Temperance Bar, Rawtenstall

I (finally) wrote up a visit to Fitzpatrick's Temperance Bar in Rawtenstall for Nothing To See Here. It's Britain's oldest original surviving temperance (non-alcoholic) bar. We went there earlier this year on the way back from Somerset and it was really interesting. I can still taste the glass of Blood Tonic I had, in a good way. I really enjoyed researching this and finding out all about the Temperance Movement. It's a fascinating piece of social history.

I like postcards

A timely reminder that I like postcards make a perfect stocking filler at £3 for a set of 8. Any orders before Christmas come with a free I like badge.

Feel Fuzzy map tags

I was at Made in the Shade again yesterday and have a new favourite stall, Feel Fuzzy. They sell delightful things made from old children's books and games, plus some other bits and pieces (like very handy gift tags) made from vintage paper products. It reminded me of Lark and all their lovely things.

I also got a button bag from Asking for Trouble (for my niece, to keep her crafting things in), a notebook covered in vintage embroidery from Leah Halliday and some more of Clare Nicolson's lavender birdies because I can't resist them. Overall, I was a bit disappointed because some of the stalls I liked last time weren't there. Still, it's a grand day out and it's on again today from 12-5 at The Lighthouse.

Narrative

Good news. Dear departed Hitherto, Glasgow's fabbest shop has risen from the ashes and returned as Narrative. It opens tonight in the CCA on Sauchiehall Street and will be trading for a few weeks until Christmas. Open til 7 most nights, it's a great place for fabulous artistic goodness and unique Christmas pressies.

Airside calendar 2009

If you're stuck for a Christmas gift, or just want to treat yourself check out the Airside 2009 calendar. I've bought one of these every year for I don't know how long and it brightens up my desk no end. There's a great illustration for every fortnight. The Airside website is a good guide to the house style.


The North Wind Blew South from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

This is a delightful little tilt-shift time-lapse film of Sydney and around. The soundtrack, The North Wind Blew South by Headless Heroes really sets it off. If you like this, there are some more films of Sydney harbour, and an awesome display of teeny monster trucks. All by Keith Loutit (thanks Paul).

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