A few of my favourite things – a post for Jenny

Before reading this, please read this post written by Jenny (aka @stroopwaffle), my old housemate’s sister. She has suffered from severe ME for nine years. If you’ve never heard of ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome, please read up on it. Tweet Jenny or our mutual friend Tanya who also lives with ME. There is a plethora of information on the web, and I’m no expert. So having pointed you in the right direction (and if you do nothing else, please do follow up to educate yourself so that you may do likewise for others) the rest of the post is dedicated to you Jenny. Everyone else is just being nosey by peering in. So then, here are a few of my favourite things.


The West Wing – Jenny, you put this far too low down on your list. It was stellar. A sharp script, brilliant ensemble cast and (with the exception of series 5) was constantly fresh. As for favourite character, I see myself as a Josh. Though CJ’s ‘The Jackal’ was the best scene of the whole lot.

Blackadder – Simply put, it’s the greatest comedy of all time. Even the overly-maligned first series was brilliant. It wasn’t as good as the later three, but that was only because they were so far above everything else.

Fifteen to One – A staple of after school quiz shows. It was just the right level and the tactics in the final game always fascinated me. It was a shame it was cancelled. I would have loved to have competed.

Rev. – After a dodgy 2nd episode, this has become one of the best things the BBC have done for ages. Wittily observed and flawlessly executed. Loaded with humour and with a decent punch of pathos, it is almost perfect.

Fawlty Towers – I have a bit of a temper on me. Most of the time it never shows, but Basil lets out much of what I feel inside. Oh to thrash a car with a small tree!

The X-Files – Not The X-Factor. This was on when I was in my early teens. The best sci-fi show of its time. The only downside was that I was always sent to bed half way through, so could never see the resolution until I watched the video we recorded the next day.

University Challenge – Good call, Jenny. Though I still harbour a little resentment against a girl called Hannah for overlooking me (I was in the Grey team that won the inter-collegiate tournament) and choosing a bunch of her mates for the Durham team  who then got knocked out in the first round.

Red Dwarf – OK, forget anything from series 7 onwards, but other than that, it is the best ‘odd couple’ comedies ever done. Relentlessly good. Yet nomatter how much I think I would have been Lister, I must admit I am more Rimmer.

The Trap Door – One might think Morph was the finest claymation ever, or Wallace and Gromit. But you’d be wrong. Willie Rushton voicing a load of monsters makes for superb viewing, topped off by one of the best theme tunes ever.

Dangermouse – Me? A predilection for a white mouse? Wonderfully anarchic, smart and one of David Jason’s finest roles.

Potsworth and Co – One of my favourite shows as a child. What could be better than going off to a fantasy land when you sleep, where a cute dog is the leader of the gang?

Maid Marion and Her Merry Men – The second entry for Tony Robinson in an historical role. And another entry for Danny John Jules. Superb kids’ tv.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Jenny, I can’t believe you picked the wrong Star Trek. Not sure what you were thinking with Voyager.


You can hardly read this blog and be unaware of how much of a bookworm I am. So let’s break them down into my 4 normal categories. I may well change my mind on these, as it’s so hard to choose.


The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright
Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey
Hannah’s Child by Stanley Hauerwas
Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Don’t You Have Time To Think by Richard Feynman
The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
Alex’s Adventures in Numberland by Alex
The Road to Reality by Roger Penrose
Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences by Mary Boas


The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Other Non-Fiction

Night by Elie Wiesel
The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
Republic by Plato
The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Guevara
Dialogues by David Hume

Other honourable mentions to:

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Kokoro by Natsume Soseki
Beyond Lies the Wub by Philip K Dick
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Strangest Man by Graham Farmelo
The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
Enough is Enough by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill


Cricket – We may not be doing so well in the Ashes right now, but it would be a brave person to take me on in a debate disputing my assertion that it is the greatest sport of all time.

Ultimate Frisbee – Being one of the founding members of the Grey College Ultimate Frisbee Team it was a sport I loved for a few years. I may have broken fingers, got shin splints, torn muscles and dislocated kneecaps but it was so much fun. And it also made me very fit for the time I did it.

Snowboard cross – Not one for me to take part in, but when the winter olympics are on, it’s one of the best events to watch.


Shrek – When it came out, it was so fresh. Forget the sequels. This was just funny.
A Bug’s Life – My controversial entry for a Pixar movie. It’s a really sweet story and the voice acting is excellent.
Watership Down – Not a children’s film at all, but a political allegory about the search for a socialist utopia, forced out by capitalism and running away from communism and militarism.

No romcom film of any quality has ever been made.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – Jenny, I’m sure we’ve discussed this before. Star Trek IV is good, but II is unquestionably the greatest sci-fi film of all time.
The Empire Strikes Back – The best of Star Wars movies and the bearer of the greatest twist in film history (beating The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects)
The Matrix – The sequels made it look bad, but given I was about 15 or 16 when it came out, this was unmitigated coolness.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II – Love the Harry Potter films and the final installment was the best. Favourite moment: Warwick Davis’ acting as he sits in a chair and negotiates for the sword of Gryffindor.
Labyrinth – Putting together David Bowie with a bunch of Jim Henson puppets. Genius.
Legend – Not actually the greatest film ever. There’s a lot wrong with it, but it’s utterly mesmerising. Tim Curry’s devil was exquisite.


Once – A beautiful story, understated performances. If you’ve not seen it, do.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show – Another showing for Tim Curry. Mad, bad and a joy to behold.
Les Miserables – Best film of 2013.


The Dark Knight – I generally dislike superhero films, but Chris Nolan’s trilogy were very well done.
Fight Club – Another great film with a twist. Must watch it again sometime.
Gladiator – Lost count of how many times I’ve seen it. Another entry for Ridley Scott’s directing (he also directed Legend)

The Life of Brian – The. Funniest. Film. Ever.
The Princess BrideAs you wish.
Galaxy Quest – Agree with you here, Jenny. Brilliantly observed mockery of sci-fi fans (who, you may have worked out, are a group of people with which I may be classed)

Schindler’s List – Horrific but moving. Superb acting throughout. Never fails to bring a tear to my eye.
The Motorcycle Diaries – Yes, is the film adaptation of the book mentioned above.
Dead Poets’ Society – Another one that gets me every time.

Insidious – I only watched this a few months ago but it really gave me the creeps. Very few films do that.
The Exorcist – A classic. A film that not only puts the shivers up you, but poses some serious questions too.
Suspiria – Utter madness. Visually stunning, this Dario Argento film will keep you awake, if only to wonder what was going on.

All time

Schindler’s List
Watership Down
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II


Favourite blogs?

Thorns and Gold
Dyfed Wyn Roberts (follow link to new hosting site, can’t link at the moment)
Confessions of a Doubting Thomas
Renaissance Mathematicus

Favourite website? Angry People in Local Newspapers

Favourite colour? Purple

Favourite Games? Chess, Poker, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit (sorry Jenny, you put some of these in the wrong category)

Least Favourite Games? Backgammon, Cryptic Crosswords, Pictionary,

Favourite Video Games? Assassin’s Creed II, Red Dead Redemption, Commander Keen

Favourite Actors? Steve Buscemi, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee

Favourite Actresses? Olivia Colman, Judi Dench, Hayden Panettiere (ahem!)

Favourite Place? Durham. The three-way border between Slovenia, Italy and Austria.

Favourite Pizza? Are you kidding me? Pizza is what you get when you combine most of the world’s most vile foods.

Superpower that you would like to have? Flying

Favourite shop? Steamer Trading Cookshop

Favourite Weather? That kind of late spring day you get when the sun is warming but as soon as you step into the shade or a mild gust of wind comes, the temperature just briefly shivers your back. Perfect hiking weather.

Favourite Animal? Penguins

3 responses to “A few of my favourite things – a post for Jenny

  1. Tanya Marlow

    This is great! (And not just because I make your favourite blog list…!)

    Who knew that David Jason was in Dangermouse??

    What year was ultimate frisbee club started in Grey? I had a friend who was captain in 99-2000.

    I’m with you on Dead Poet’s Society. And the Bell Jar – awesome. I read the first bit of love in the time of cholera and then got bored – should I continue?

    I’m impressed by your favourite Christian books – all books that I should have read, but haven’t…

    • You didn’t know David Jason was the voice of Dangermouse? Then it may be a surprise to you that he was also the voice of Count Duckula which originated as a spin-off from Dangermouse.

      Your friend must have been a time traveller to captain the Grey College Ultimate Frisbee team as it was co-founded by myself, Ed Gay, Dave Grimm, Hannah Stone, Chris Lee and a few others in 2003.

      For the christian books, I recommend you start with Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. The opening chapter will wipe away a lot of tradition that has built up around the nativity (and which will, I suspect, be re-enacted in schools and churches up all over the world) which simply aren’t in the biblical narrative. Plus, there’s a big section on ‘Jesus and women’ which I suspect may be up your street.

      As for Love in the Time of Cholera…..if you weren’t captivated by its poetic language, I’m guessing that you might not enjoy the rest. The third quarter was a little quiet, though this was vindicated at the end. But it was much better than One Hundred Years of Solitude.

  2. Very kind of you!