Saturday, 25 July 2009

Guilty Pleasures

Last night, in bed, I was thinking about this post. Having done a considerable amount of t'internet dating over the past 2 years I have encountered many rogues who aim to impress with their rather highbrow, pretentious favourite books/ films/ music.

Did I really believe Rochester when he claimed his favourite book was 'Crime and Punishment'? If the swarthy rogue was faced with a 12 hour journey on a National Express bus, would that really be his first choice? I am not sure. I would have thought Razzle would have been more his cup of tea.

I dated a theatre director who initially claimed his favourite film was Jules et Jim. Later, over milky coffee, the cove sheepishly admitted his most loved movie was the rather cheesy Michael J Fox classic The Secret of My Success.

The first time I visited Senor Boldon's lair he attempted to seduce me with a shrill Edith Piaf CD. (Senor Boldon is Rochester's brother, a McDonald's executive). I don't for one moment imagine Edith Piaf's greatest hits is actually the Burger Baron's CD of choice. I don't think he comes home, exhausted from Herculean gherkin inventories and arduous Mcflurry audits, slumps on the sofa and unwinds to Non, je ne regrette rien. Little Sparrow? What a din! Copulating Seagull would be a more fitting moniker. I had to ask the Lexus Lothario to switch the CD off, the combination of the froggy caterwauling and his beloved green tea made me quite ill.

I am possibly guilty of the same thing though. In this post I aim to confess to my own guilty pleasures: the books, films, music etc that I love, but that I wouldn't necessarily confess to on a first date, for fear of ridicule.

Winner: Film
Doc Hollywood

I love this film! It is an 80s delight starring Michael J Fox and has the classic Chesney Hawkes I Am the One and Only as its soundtrack.

It is so sweet and nostalgic, it's a homage to small town America. It is the kind of charming film that James Stewart would have starred in 50 years earlier. Basically, arrogant and ambitious M.J.F. is a doctor on his way to LA to take up a lucrative post as a plastic surgeon. He ends up stranded in a small town in the Deep South, and finds himself falling in love with the kooky place and the kooky people who live there. It is a film with a big heart. It is funny and whimsical.

I love anything Deep South. Give me a book or film with a Deep South setting and I am a happy girl. The place seems so romantic to me, all those trees strewn with silvery Spanish Moss, wooden ramshackle houses with creaking porches, iced-tea, Gone with the Wind, eerie gothic literature. I'll go there one day, I hope.

Runner up
Gregory's Girl
One of my favourite films when I was growing up. It reminds me of my own school days. Claire Grogan was so cool in it. I think this film inspired me to buy my first beret, but I don't think I was ever brave enough to wear it. This was grey, grimy, strike-ruined Easington Colliery after all. Believe me, no good would come from wearing a beret in such a place.

Winner: Book
Forever Amber by Kathleen Windsor
A thrilling bodice-ripper. Quite addictive (it has to be, it is almost 1000 pages long). Published in 1944, it was originally considered deeply shocking. I seem to remember a thinly veiled reference to anal sex at one point.

Amber is an ammoral, grasping, vain and selfish woman who sleeps her way to greatness, survives the Great Fire of London AND the Black Death. But, of course, despite her tremendous guile and many triumphs, she never gets what she wants: the man she really loves. Be warned. The ending to this book will break your heart, it is quite simply, unbearable.

Runner Up
Agatha Christie: Miss Marple series
These books are perfect cosy, comfort reading for chilly autumnal days. You'll need a coal fire, a pot of tea, some cheese on toast and a hot water bottle. I love Miss Marple, her spry wit, her love of cardigans, gossip, knitting and afternoon tea. There is something elegantly nostalgic about the 50s settings. There is something terribly comforting about a world where the bleakest, darkest, most evil deeds can be briskly sorted out by an elderly spinster.

Nemesis is my favourite Miss Marple book. Its central characters: 3 batty, witchy old ladies guarding a terrible secret, are almost Shakespearean.

Let us never speak of the recent ITV adaptations of these wonderful books, too awful for words. The Joan Hickson versions however, are just wonderful.

Winner: Music
Barbra Streisand: Woman in Love
'Life is a moment in space, when the dream is gone, it's a lonelier place.' Ahh. Barbra. What can I say. I just love this song. Rochester once told me he had a thing for Barbra in his youth. He saw her in Funny Girl, bouncing on a sofa in a pair of big knickers and that was it. He was smitten. However, it was a short-lived adoration. When Spitting Image began to portray her as an anteater he just couldn't feel the same about her anymore. Men are such fickle creatures.

Runner Up
I love this. I have it on my i-pod and it always makes me smile. I remember them performing it on Wogan. I am sure they were stoned. Terry, full of sprightly, twinkly-eyed charm, attempted to interview them. They could barely stand up straight.

Winner, Trashy Food
Curry Chip Butty
Very northern this is and hardly sophisticated, but I still have quite exacting standards and requirements. The chips and sauce should come from a Chinese take-away (I can't abide flabby, soggy, chip-shop chips). But, ideally the butty should also have some crispy batter, which is only available at a traditional English chip shop. You see the dilemma. The butty should be made with floury white stotty cake, plastered with salted butter.

Runner up
Crumpets with Golden Syrup
This is what you eat when you've been dumped and are in need of comfort. It is essential the crumpets are slathered with salted butter. The joy of this dish is the contrast between the salty butter and the sweet, sweet, unctuous syrup. Culinary Prozac.

TV Program: Winner
What can I say. This is an absolute joy. I am so in love with JR, his gleeful villainy, his wisecracking, his penchant for safari jackets.

Sue Ellen (all slurry and petulant): Tell me JR, which slut will you be looking at tonight.

JR: Well, I don't rightly know darlin', but she's bound to be a lot more appealing than the slut I'm looking at right now.

I could write a whole thesis on Dallas.

Runner Up
Cagney and Lacey
In the 80s I was seriously addicted to Cagney and Lacey. I love it still. Glamorous Christine: alcoholic, date-raped, independent, grouchy, ambitious. She had a great apartment, lots of interesting (but short-lived) boyfriends and sexy clothes.

Dowdy Mary Beth: shabby apartment, breast cancer, unruly teenage sons, rather sleazy, unemployed husband, Harvey who used to drone on about politics all the time. Mary Beth had some truly atrocious clothes, lots of paisley blouses and nylon A-line skirts.

I also loved the bouffant-haired fanny-rat Isbecki, the precinct lothario. Oh, and the sweet and gentle detective La Guardia, a dapper little fellow in a bow-tie.

What a great show.


  1. That's all very honest of you! I will have to do the same myself when I get a minute!