Thursday, 9 May 2013

B Is For...

Welcome to the second part of my A to Z series: the letter 'B'! Featuring a favourite song, a favourite TV show or movie, a favourite book, something random that I love and something about me. See the Introduction here and letter 'A' covered here.

Buy The Stars - Marina and The Diamonds

I love Marina's voice, and it is especially stunning in this song.

The Beginner's Goodbye - Anne Tyler

Me and my mum both love Anne Tyler's novels. I think between us we've read all of them! This is her most recent novel and it does not disappoint. My mum very kindly lent it to me after she'd read it: this is how I have been introduced to many of the books that I read over the years! The Beginner's Goodbye is at heart about the main character, Aaron Woolcott, recovering from the death of his partner, Dorothy Rosales, who returns from the dead to have conversations with him. At first he thinks that she really is there, but gradually realises that he is conjuring her up himself. Eventually he becomes ready to say goodbye. It is a beautifully written novel with a happy ending that is definitely worth a read, as are all of Tyler's novels.


As much as I love Breaking Bad, I have to go with Bunheads. I love this show, and I'm currently hoping against hope that it will be renewed for a second season. Regardless it is well worth watching: with an incredible cast, a beautiful set and great storylines, I really can't fault it, not to mention the dancing. It's about a woman who ends up in a small town teaching at a dance studio run by her mother in law, and centres around four of the ballet dancers also. Check out these videos to get a taster:

Bread And Butter Pudding

One of my favourite puddings. Here's the recipe from my Auntie Enid:

2 - 3 slices of thin bread and butter
2 - 3 oz sultanas
1/2 oz sugar
1/2 pint milk
1 egg

Cut the bread and butter into neat strips and lay in a buttered pie dish, buttered side up, sprinkling each layer with fruit and sugar (but omitting fruit in the top layer). Heat the milk and pour onto the beaten egg. Strain into the pie dish, grate nutmeg on top and let stand for half an hour to let the bread swell. Bake on the middle shelf of a moderate oven (375F or Mark 4) for about half an hour until set and lightly browned. To make it extra special add a measure (or two!) of Cointreau to bread before adding the milk.

(Excess) Baggage

I have always have a enormous amount of random stuff. When I say stuff, I mean the astonishing array of clothes, make-up, books, toys, shoes, hair ties, shells, earrings (many of which are missing their partners), pieces of paper, notebooks and keepsakes that I carry with me from place to place. All of the random debris that one picks up during one's life. Of course, unlike me, most people probably don't form emotional attachments to every little thing that they come into contact with. Very few of my possessions have any monetary value. The reason I have so much stuff is not because I have (now or in the past) had a great deal of money to spend. It is mainly because I have rarely thrown anything away.
It started when I was young. My parents never made me throw anything away, and I accumulated a bewildering array of miscellaneous items. For instance, I built up an impressive collection of rocks and shells (so much so that a whole area of our garden was dedicated to my ‘beach’). Let me put it this way: I am now in my twenties, and sitting under my bed in my parent’s home are six big boxes full of random bits from my childhood. And I really do mean random bits. Toys and books are stored away neatly. No, what is under the bed is six whole boxes full of doll heads, bits of paper, beads, scraps of material, sweet wrappers: in other words, these boxes really need to be thrown out. The fact that I have not spent more than a couple of nights in that bedroom in the past four years, and only the summers for four years before that makes the situation even more incomprehensible.
That bedroom is also full to the brim with a multitude of other stuff. However, I no longer even live in the same country as that bedroom. In the last six months I have lived in three different places, and have finally settled in the third. And already, even though most of my stuff should logically not have followed me, my (for the first time shared) bedroom is already getting crowded. The realisation hit me when I collected another suitcase full of my old clothes and shoes and tried to put them away in the cupboard. They. Would. Not. Fit. It’s not because I buy very many clothes. A lot of them are hand me down’s from my sister. I just like to keep everything I have, ‘just in case’. Out of the clothes I own, only any a handful are actually in my usual rotation.

Now, in a different country to the one in which I grew up, I still have rather a lot of stuff, and with the prospect of moving in the next few months it is rather worrying! Sometimes I think about it all. About all the books I own, most of which are not in my current location which really pains me because I have a strong attachment to each of them. Books like Girl by Blake Nelson, which inspired much of my fashion in my teenage years; my guidebooks to New York, which carry so many good memories for me; or the Velveteen Rabbit, which I finally managed to purchase after many years of searching for it in second hand bookshops. It is not enough for me to know that these books exist. It is as if I must have copies of them to hand at all times. Then I started to think about all of the mementos that I carry around, from the tiny Venetian glass animals which I carefully transport from place to place, and the mini VW campervan toy which came from my grandparents’ house, to the packet of flower tea balls which I have never opened and the Mr Men pill box and the two dirty plastic Care Bear figurines. And I started to think about all of the notebooks and loose sheets of paper which I have filled up and cannot bring myself to throw away, and all of the newspaper cuttings and magazines and song lyrics and cards and love letters and beermats.
Much as I love all of my random stuff and all of the memories that it contains, I do wonder why I am so reliant on it. I have always been terrified of losing my possessions: when I was young, I would lie awake on stormy nights and worry that the trees on the other side of the road from my house would fall over. I wasn’t worried that I would get hurt, oh no. I was worried that all the things in my room would blow away and be lost forever. The crux of the matter is, there are memories attached to most of the things that I own that I am afraid might be forgotten if I lost that item or threw it away, but that seems silly. Surely if the memory is an important one, I won’t need a prop to help me remember it. And while I am certain that many other people are similarly attached to their things, I’m just not sure how many people carry old beer mats around from one country to another, regardless of the reason!  


Comments most welcome, please and thank you