On the record – Was Peter Kay right all along?

Before we get into the album adventure for 2019, it’s worth a quick reminder of why this project even started and if we have made any progress on the original premise. Three years ago, it all kicked off when a conversation on Peter Kay’s Car Share caused a real life debate in our household.

I was on Kayleigh’s side, that you could have whatever album you wanted as your favourite, whether it is a compilation or not. Mr C was firmly on the side of Peter Kay/John, who rejected the idea of a compilation album being eligible for selection as your favourite.

So, after three years of listening to albums, I can update that I now understand both sides of the argument and… reluctantly… admit that Peter Kay was right. Although, I don’t think Kayleigh’s entirely wrong.

The trouble is, I think they are talking about two different things, and it’s the word album being used in both contexts that is the problem. If you are like John, then you’re considering the album to be a body of work put together by an artist to tell a story or share an idea in the form of anywhere between 10 to 20 songs.

If you are like Kayleigh, then an album is anything available to buy (on CD in her case) whether that is a collection of songs by one artist or by many. It’s called a compilation album after all. But the trouble is that it’s not really the same thing as the one-artist-one-story-to-tell album, despite featuring the a-word. In this day and age, it would be more accurate to describe it as a playlist. And once you get to that point, then you can easily see that John is right – you can’t have a compilation as your favourite album when it is, in fact, just a really good playlist.

He’s right but that doesn’t mean Kayleigh is completely wrong, it just means he needs to narrow the parameters of the argument for her.

And yes, I do know I’ve put too much thought into this. Just wait until I get back to agonising over the impossibilities of a top ten albums of all time list.

2019 goals

I’ve seen a lot of debate recently about the usefulness of new year’s resolutions – are we putting too much pressure on ourselves? Are we pushing for hard to achieve activities when we should be revelling more in what we have and who we are? I think there can be an element of this and I can respect those who don’t care for a resolution one way or the other. I personally think, however, that it’s a great time of year to consider what you’ve done and what you might like to do in the coming months. Self-reflection can be useful.

Last year, I wrote a heartfelt missive that encouraged everyone to be nice. That still holds true to this day, perhaps even more so. I said, at the time, that I didn’t want to indulge in specific goals but now I regret that because I want something to look back on.

So, with that in mind, here are my goals for 2019:

  • Finish the Alphabet Adventure.
    I started this god-damn thing nearly nine years ago, and thought I could whip through the alphabet in a single set of twelve months. There are just two left to do, and even my mother has said that finishing things should be one of my resolutions this year. So, it’s on the list.
  • Develop an app.
    You know the score, I’m trying to learn Swift and iOS development (latest update here) and there’s only one direction that ends up going in, my very own app.
  • Watch more old films.
    Film Watch is still going strong, and we enjoyed an excellent 80s revival period during the last few months. But I feel like I need to go a bit older, get a bit more culture, delve into the black and white pictures of this world.
  • Attempt a challenging walk.
    I discovered the rather excellent concept of a long distance trail this year, what else is out there?
  • Continue my cooking journey.
    This year, I have two proud kitchen moments – successfully cooking with the HelloFresh Christmas box, and the fact that I don’t stop in the ready meal aisle anymore. I want to just keep this going – invest in my kitchen-ware and gadgets, have confidence to experiment with recipes, keep trying to replace processed and bought foods with homemade items (pasta and granola-type bars are next on the list), and just generally keep finding those proud kitchen moments.

That’s my specific goals, but as per 2018 “be nice, be thoughtful, be kind” are still top of the agenda. Welcome in, new year, let’s see what you’ve got in store.

The friendly neighbourhood

When we purchased Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we opted for the season pass to include a handful of future downloadable content releases. Two additional tombs were available by the time we settled down for our Christmas break, and it was 100% our plan to raid them over the festive period.

Except, then, Sony had a sale and we bought Spiderman and now it’s like Lara who?

I had heard people raving about this game and was interested to see what it was like, but I am really so very fussy when it comes to Playstation Games, there’s not a lot that holds my interest.

Spiderman almost didn’t, too. The first wave of baddies, whilst crucial for setting up the story was about as off-putting as it gets. Tricky, mostly button-mashing, and really… I just wanted to get to the bit where you can explore the city.

That’s where the game comes into its own. Persevere through that early battle and you are left with the entirety of glorious New York to swing through, scrambling up walls and over rooftops, crashing down to earth and scaring people like crazy. The graphics are amazing, the sprawling city a wonder to behold, and some of the vistas – well, it was no fool that opted to have a photo mode in this game too.

So far we’ve uncovered a few of the side mission things you have to do – hunting down backpacks, taking photos of bizarre cat statues, doing science at scattered research stations. Some of it is easy, some of it is hard, some I really don’t like (the one where you had to swing between two electro-magnetic storm things as they moved in at various points and zapped you… ugh). It seems like there’s a lot more to do and a lot more to discover, and now I’m annoyed because the Christmas holidays are very quickly running out.

What a great game this is, and what a reminder to sometimes listen to what the general population is saying and give these things a try!

Click & Collect

The BBC aired a one-off hour-long comedy this Christmas, starring Stephen Merchant and Asim Choudry as an unlikely duo travelling hundreds of miles to find a sought-after toy for the former’s kid, and featuring plenty of humour and emotional moments along the way. I loved it so much, I wished I was Film Watching it as I went along – then I realised, I can sort of do that anyway! Ah, having a blog is excellent.

So, here are my favourite bits and pieces from Click & Collect:

  • “£64.99? Sorry, is it an actual unicorn?”
  • The lights! They so remind me of Christmas Lights, that programme with Robson Green and Mark Benton. Oof that was a good show.
  • Do people honk their horns at lights? That’s not something I’d ever think of doing.
  • “I have turned to my superpower, the strongly worded letter.”
  • When people pretend to be on the phone, it always stresses me out that it will ring.
  • “It’s not a list of demands, like a ransom note. The list is there for us to just cast an eye over, thanks very much for your suggestions, we’ll take it from here sweetheart.”
  • I really want a Brief History of Time colouring book.
  • “You can’t put a price on her happiness, can you?” “No, you can’t, but then her happiness will be heavily discounted on Boxing Day.”
  • The fizzed up drink is amazing. “That’s the gas out of it now.” Then the wipers!
  • “We need to show it that we mean business.” Then later. “The balls on this thing, mate!” Ah, sat nav.
  • The handbrake thing confused me for a second there, but omg.
  • I think I have a bit of a phobia about things that make noise when the battery runs out… it’s freaking me out.
  • “Just one retweet from a Lineker, a Rowling, an Edmonds!”
  • Always when the person is like “what more could you do” and then you just have to keep on going.
  • “We have clicked and now we have come to collect.”
  • “That was amazing. Honestly, and I don’t say this lightly, you reminded me of Lovejoy.”
  • I don’t totally understand when they got their car back, but oh well.
  • “It’s very unusual for me to write directly to clients.” “Children?”
  • Love that Santa is blaming Brexit.
  • “Because of me, tomorrow, she’s going to open a chemistry set. Which, let’s face it, is basically just extra school.”
  • Argh, the strongly-worded letter!
  • “Why are you dressed like a big elf?” “It’s a valid question.”
  • Banta Claus.

If you want a job doing right…

I had to put my ‘learn Swift’ project on the backburner for the last few weeks but I’m catching up again now we have a few festive days of freedom. That’s what most people do, right? Spend Christmas afternoon digesting mince pies and learning how to code?

Last time I wrote about finishing up the first course on Ray Wenderlich’s iOS path and moving on to the second which was more about Swift. I’ll admit, I found that one a touch harder than I was expecting – some of the concepts seemed a bit unnecessary for this stage in the course (still being a total beginner), and they also used not-so-simple maths concepts as a way to demonstrate some of the coding tricks. It was hard to relate, so I had to keep stopping and pausing and thinking about what it would mean if I was making my own app.

Thankfully, the fact that I could see the issues with what I was learning actually gave me confidence that I’m getting a good grounding in the Swift language. And I have to keep remembering that it’s not about retaining all the information first time through. It’s about knowing what is possible and being able to reference back to it when you need it.

So, now I’m on the third course wherein we are building a to do list app. The number of times have I written about to do list apps hoping that I’ve found the new one that will fix all my problems and inevitably failing to keep up the habit of using it! Now, I’m writing my own! Okay, it’s a pretty simple app with limited features, but it brings to life the concept of having a problem in your own life and fixing it.

How many times do you hear the story of app developers coming up with ideas just because they had a need in their own life? Now I’m starting to think about what things could work more smoothly in my life and what kind of app I could make to help. There are a lot of apps out there covering all manner of topics and genres, but hey, there’s always room for one more, right?

Fitted wardrobe

Somehow, I managed to miss the fact that Amazon launched their new Wardrobe service for Prime members a few weeks ago. Instead, it only popped up when shopping for something else, but it was very quickly apparent this was something I wanted to try. Shopping is not one of the most fun experiences for me, particularly for clothes or shoes or anything like that, so whatever can make that easier, quicker, just less hassle, then I’m on board.

The idea is a typical Amazon one, a delivery service in which you order between 3 and 8 items (clothing, shoes, accessories) from a range of own-brand and high street names, and get them shipped to your door. Then comes the fun part, though, where you get seven days to try the stuff on and if you don’t like it or it doesn’t fit, you just send it back and pay nothing for the privilege. You don’t pay for anything until you’ve decided if you want it or not, and of course, you’re only charged for what you keep.

So, I’ve known about Prime Wardrobe for about two weeks and have managed two deliveries so far, sending just one thing back. The joy of not having to try things on in those drafty changing rooms, or elbowing people out the way to get to the size of garment you require, it can’t be over-stated. Also, shoe shopping in stores is a particular pain as I have not-average-sized feet and there is never anything on display to try on that actually fits. So getting things shipped to the door is perfect.

The only two hassles are:

  • You do have to make the effort to go to a Royal Mail drop off point if you want to return anything. Hardly asking a lot given the service in question but worth bearing in mind.
  • Also, sometimes searching for things can be a bit wonky – you find something you really like, but it depends on the size or colour you want as to whether it is actually part of the Wardrobe collection or not.

So far, I’ve not had any issues with the Prime Wardrobe service and it solves a lot of problems that I have had with shopping out in the real world. I know the high street is suffering and it’s directly because of services like this but for me, it’s the ideal option. It’s up to the high street to consider their direction from here, because it’s convenience that is queen.