Forty things I love

To celebrate my fortieth birthday today, I decided to write a list. A list of things I love, fond memories I have, items I’m glad to have been alive to experience, and in general a list of loveliness. If all these things were on a desert island, I would be happy. Also because I like making lists. (Disclaimer: this does not include E, who is a lovely experience to trump all of these things, I was really just putting down popular culture, food, places and so on.)

Favourite sandwiches ever:

1, A chicken salad submarine roll in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the chicken was still warm and juicy, the dressing was delicate and herbed, and the bread fresh.

2, A plain salami in a baguette that we ate on the banks of the Seine in September sun on our honeymoon.

Songs to play at my funeral:

3, At the Sea – I Am Kloot

4, This Hard Land – Bruce Springsteen

5, Great Expectations – Elbow

Movie scenes I love:

6, Waltzing through Grand Central Station – The Fisher King

7, “And I said I would never leave you.” “And you never will.” … “Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble but it don’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill o’ beans in this crazy world. Some day you’ll understand that.”

Lines from books that make me weep

8, “In the night she awakened, with the stillness and the darkness about her, and the recollection of the day came over her like a wave of sorrow. She could see Matthew’s face smiling at her as he had smiled when they parted at the gate that last evening – she could hear his voice saying, ‘My girl – my girl that I’m proud of.'” (Freud fans, eat your heart out with that one.)

9, “If there is ever a tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember, You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I will always be with you.” (Is anyone spotting a theme here? Let’s try something more cheerful shall we?)

Books that are a part of me:

10, Anne of Green Gables (see 8 above) – LM Montgomery

11, 84 Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff

12, Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

13, Nobody’s Fool – Richard Russo

14, Brother of the More Famous Jack – Barbara Trapido

Songs that are just sooooo beautiful:

15, Where Dreams go to Die – John Grant

16, Verdi Cries – 10,000 Maniacs

17, The Man With the Child in his Eyes – Kate Bush

18, Spin That Girl Around – Euros Childs

Favourite memories of things I’ve seen or done:

19, Sitting in a New York coffee shop aged 21, looking out at the traffic and the people, and thinking “this is exactly what I thought it would be like.” Sometimes your dreams do come true.

20, Glastonbury festival. Especially 2009. Watching The Boss from the mosh pit and taking 2 hours stumbling around before I remembered where our tent was, standing with my sister watching Blur, a lovely peaceful crowd all singing ‘Tender’ together as fire balloons lit the sky… (and then killed cows – don’t ruin it, don’t ruin it…)

21, The Heineken Cup Final 2011. The atmosphere in Cardiff, the welcoming crowds, the game of high ball being kicked about outside the stadium, my front row seat, the disbelief when we scored 3 tries in the first half, the lovely heartfelt commiserations from the victorious Leinster fans, watching the Irish fans shaking Saint’s players hands, and especially Ben Foden hauling Brian O’Driscoll down 5 metres shy of the try line. One of the best days of my life. No idea how I’d have coped if we’d won.

22, Walking the Abel Tasman coast track despite having a twisted ankle. Hidden coves of golden sand, blue sky, blue sea, and one of my favourite companions (the other hadn’t been born yet.)

23, Sitting with my sister and teaching Simon how to do his first and only tequila slammer on the eve of our wedding.

24, Drinking much beer with friends on Brighton beach and watching fireworks on the 50th anniversary of VE Day. Getting the munchies, walking to the nearest pub to find it full of older people waving union flags and singing Vera Lynn songs, using their toilet, ordering 10 packets of crisps and walking out again.

Songs to play loudly when in need of female empowerment:

25, Standing the Way of Control – Gossip

26, Because the Night – Patti Smith

27, Make Your Own Kind of Music – Mamas and Papas

Favourite lines from The West Wing:

28, Leo (White House Chief of Staff on the phone to to the New York crossword to complain they’ve spelled Gaddafi wrong): “My name? My name is not important. I’m just an ordinary citizen who uses the New York Times crossword for stimulation. And I’m telling you I’ve met the man twice and I’ve ordered a pre-emptive Exocet strike against his air force so I think I know what I’m talking about… they hang up on me.”

29, President Jed Bartlet accepting a Congressional censure: “Nobody in politics takes responsibility any more. I did this.”

30, Bruno Gianelli, campaign manager (played by Ron Silver, big Republican): “Because I’m tired of working for candidates who make me think that I should be embarrassed to believe what I believe, Sam! I’m tired of getting them elected! We all need some therapy, because somebody came along and said, “‘Liberal’ means soft on crime, soft on drugs, soft on Communism, soft on defense, and we’re gonna tax you back to the Stone Age because people shouldn’t have to go to work if they don’t want to!” And instead of saying, “Well, excuse me, you right-wing, reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-education, anti-choice, pro-gun, Leave It To Beaver trip back to the Fifties…!”, we cowered in the corner, and said, “Please. Don’t. Hurt. Me.” No more.”

The best food in the world

31, My grandma’s apple pie

32, My mum’s trifle

33, E’s cupcakes, covered in hundreds and thousands scattered with a sticky hand

34, Fish and chips by the sea

Pets with a place in my heart

35, Jason (black labrador from my childhood. Soft, loveable, loyal.)

36, Poppy (border collie cross, rescued and brought home to replace Jason. Nervous, funny, destroyer of cardboard tubes.)

37, Spencer (black labrador brought home when Mum couldn’t resist him as a puppy. Mad, stomach of iron, at my side when the oven blew up in our faces)

38, Arly (beautiful yellow, green and purple gecko lizard. Liked crickets and walking on my back.)


Stationery I have loved

39, Big forgiving lined notebooks with embroidered covers

40, Sharpies.



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