LISTS OF FAVOURITES
(AND OTHER THINGS)
Everyone loves lists don't they? You know the sort of thing I'm talking about - top 10 favourite songs, top 20 best meals you've ever eaten, top 50 places to see before you die. The top 10 least interesting lists in history? Lists have always been a great way to start a discussion or an argument, and seem to have become a staple of popular internet clicks these days. And I guess a person's lists of favourites are also a good way to get to know the basics about them. So these are a few of my selected lists covering the basics of everyday life and likes with appropriate, none-too-serious comments. More may be added later if I have the time and the inclination.
Oh - and the background colours are significant, as you'll find out in one of the lists.
3) In the Heat of the Night
4) The Apartment
5) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
6) The Sting
10) Star Wars : Episode IV - A New Hope
11) The Englishman Who Went up a Hill .....
14) The Caine Mutiny
16) The Odessa File
17) Apollo 13
18) The Untouchables
19) The Terminator
20) Kingdom of Heaven
The Big Country
That's my first list, albeit an ever changing one, because film favourites do fluctuate - too much exposure can diminish the appeal of some of them, and there are films on this list that I've just seen too many times. I know almost every word of them and I need a break from them. Some movies which were once enjoyed, also appear increasingly dated with the passage of the years. I am proud of the fact however that there are pictures here from six separate decades from 'The Caine Mutiny' (1954) to 'Kingdom of Heaven' (2005), and multiple different genres are represented, as well as one black and white movie 'The Apartment', and one foreign language film 'Downfall'. I have written some film reviews on another site, and may eventually transfer these to this site, and add more. Links to some of the reviews are highlighted in orange above.
1) James Stewart
2) Laurel and Hardy
3) Paul Newman
4) Clint Eastwood
5) Sally Field
6) Edward G Robinson
7) Alastair Sim
8) Tommy Lee Jones
9) Humphrey Bogart
10) Goldie Hawn
11) Rod Steiger
12) Morgan Freeman
13) Tom Hanks
14) Doris Day
15) Hugh Grant
16) Audrey Hepburn
17) Anthony Hopkins
18) Richard Widmark
19) Peter Sellars
20) Cary Grant
A bit reluctant to include this list, because with prevailing attitudes some may regard it as shockingly sexist! That's because it's 80% male, and those actresses who do appear here are I confess present as much for their physical appeal as for their acting ability. But I make no apologies. It's been the nature of movies throughout most of their history that the majority of leads have been male and the majority of great acting roles have been male. Maybe a future list will redress that imbalance, but I have to be honest about the films I've grown up with and loved. These people are here because they are great actors, or because they are easy on the eye, or simply because they fit perfectly into the kind of film roles I enjoy watching.
James Stewart - laid back, mild mannered, docile, slow talking, and yet ... you just know that when the need arises James Stewart will step up to the mark. That's the kind of acting role I most enjoy, and as he appears in some of my favourite films, including 'Shenandoah' (see above) this is my all-time favourite actor.
FAVOURITE TV GENRES
I have to include this one as it allows me to rail against popular culture - you will find no soap operas, no banal 'youth' shows, none of the tackiest game shows or 'reality' shows here.
1) History documentaries : I dropped history at school, because it was just lists and lists of dates - I guess I wasn't so enamoured with lists back then! But now I am, and I'm also enamoured with history documentaries, straight to camera or dramatised.
2) Star Trek : I have to give Star Trek a special mention all of its own. I reckon I've seen and liked all the episodes of all series up to the time of publication, although the original 1960s show is dated now. VERY dated.
3) Sit-coms : Humour is very much an individual taste, and many sit-coms leave me cold with their contrived situations, hammy acting and canned laughter (I hope it's canned - if it is indeed 'live laughter', then maybe some of those live audiences should be canned). But the best sitcoms - both British and American - are great entertainment (see the green box) and a staple of my TV watching.
4) Science and Nature documentaries : Science has always been my thing, especially astronomy and natural history. When I was growing up I wanted to be the next David Attenborough. I still do.
5) Quiz Shows : Not tacky game shows, please note, but intelligent quiz shows with intelligent questions. (Even if I can't answer them).
6) Films : I'm including cinema films here even though they were never made for TV, simply because I don't get out to the cinema much, so that box in the corner is where I get most of my film entertainment, watched in quiet solitude.
7) Dramas : I don't watch a lot of fictional drama but once in a while historical dramas can really grip me and hold me.
8) Politics : Political issues and current affairs can be intensely boring as we all know, but sometimes an issue crops up which I feel strongly about, and when that happens, I can easily watch rolling news programmes 24 hours a day.
9) Sport : The Olympics, rugby, athletics, snooker, golf and major finals in most sports.
10) Breakfast TV : Always a good way to start the morning.
1) Yes Minister /
Yes Prime Minister
3) The I.T Crowd
4) Father Ted
6) Fawlty Towers
7) The Good Life
9) Only Fools And Horses
10) Blackadder 2
11) Ever Decreasing Circles
12) Everybody Loves Raymond
13) The Big Bang Theory
14) Mr Bean
15) Not Going Out
16) Happy Ever After /
Terry & June
17) One Foot in the Grave
18) I'm Alan Partridge
19) Ripping Yarns
20) Dad's Army
'Yes Minister' - later promoted to 'Yes Prime Minister' - one of the cleverest and wittiest of sit-coms
FAVOURITE MUSICAL GENRES
OK. Now music, but I'm afraid when it comes to music I'll speak a different, rather more ancient language to most of you. Until recently I proudly boasted I couldn't name a single song written since the dawn of the new millennium. But that's now changed ... I'm equally proud to say I now know the names of at least two. Also I don't have the foggiest notion what difference if any exists between Britpop, garage, acid house, trance, Indie, techno, hip hop or a dozen other musical genres I've vaguely been made aware of in recent years. If you want to know the sort of music I really like, head over to 'My Desert Island Discs' on another page. You'll find none of the tracks featured have been in the charts in the past month or two - indeed few have been in the charts in the past century. This list on this page however, is all about musical genres rather than individual songs - my favourites are eclectic and very broadly defined, but still there may unfortunately be little here to interest the majority of younger readers. Or am I stereotyping?
1) Celtic Music : Music which is at least one hundred years old. In fact, not just Celtic (Scots, Irish and Welsh) but any traditional folk including English and American.
2) Hymns and Carols : A strange one this because I don't subscribe to any belief system. But the sound of many of these spiritual pieces is just beautiful. Of course it helps that many of these tunes also owe their origins to traditional folk influences.
3) Traditional Chinese Music : so very calming. But instrumental only - not vocal.
4) Music from the Movies : I guess having a storyline to help visualise the musical theme always helps stir emotion, but the truth is that the silver screen has been the inspiration for some of the most moving music of the last century.
5) Music from the Musicals : ditto the above.
6) 60s Pop : I think pop music steadily diminished in quality after the 1960s, but please don't say it's just that that was 'my era'. I wasn't into any kind of music in the 60s. It's mainly the comparative simplicity and innocence of 60s pop which appeals to me.
7) Easy Listening : Pretty much anything which doesn't fit into the above categories, and which was composed after the Georgian/Victorian eras of traditional folk and before the era of 1960s pop.
8) Modern Folk and Folk Rock : John Denver, Don McLean, Bread, Joan Baez, The Seekers, etc.
9) French Music : Not all French music of course! I am generalising grossly but that French music which has a particular 'French sound'. Think Edith Piaf, and you'll know what I like.
10) African Music : It's got rhythm.
Traditional Folk - Melodies which are simpler, more memorable and more beautiful than those of any other musical genre, and lyrics which are often more poignantly sentimental
ROAST LAMB : My mum used to do this to perfection. A Sunday roast, with crispy roast potatoes and soft mashed potatoes, peas and sweetcorn. Maybe cauliflower cheese, and thick brown gravy. Just thinking about it makes me really yearn for it one more time, the way she made it. It has been 16 long years.
CHIPS : Pretty much anything works with chips (french fries). This was my favourite when I was a kid and - to paraphrase a famous Monty Python sketch - it can be egg and chips, baked beans and chips, chicken supreme and chips, chicken and mushroom pie and chips, cauliflower cheese and chips, or the old stand-by, fish and chips - the most traditional of British takeaways.
ICE CREAM, CHOCOLATE AND COCONUT BISCUITS (COOKIES) : I'll lump these three together, because if I list them as three separate entries in my top ten, I'd have to exclude some proper food, and then some people might possibly think I'm a bit shallow. Besides, ice cream with coconut in it and chocolate with coconut in it and biscuits covered in chocolate are all equally good, and so I think deserve to be lumped together. Speaking of lumps, over the years they have had a distressing effect on my tummy.
PASTA : Any kind of pasta. You just can't go wrong with pasta can you?
CEREAL : I've always favoured cereal for breakfast. It's not heavy, it's not dry. It's just a nice gentle way to start the day. A bowl of Shreddies with warm milk - who needs anything else? It's probably my healthiest meal of the day.
CHINESE STIR-FRY : Prawns, noodles, vegetables and the all-important sauce. Isn't it wonderful that with just prawns, noodles and vegetables and five different sauces, you can have five completely different tasting dishes? And so easy requiring just one wok, even I can cook it - I have to say that any meal which requires more than one saucepan / one frying pan is too mentally taxing for me.
CREAM CAKES : Cream, soft sponge, cream, strawberries and thick cream. I'm not very sophisticated. For some reason I haven't yet fathomed out, I find it hard to keep my weight down.
MEXICAN : Fajitahs, burritos and enchiladas - as long as they're not too spicy. I don't like spicy.
READY MADE MICROWAVE MEALS : I think you really know too much about my dietary habits now.
ALL SORTS : No, not 'liquorice allsorts', but just a grouping together of a few of my other favourites - tomatoes, eggs, mushrooms, pears, onions, hot melted, water melon and grapes. That pretty much sums up most of what I eat.
Couldn't find a good photo of my first choice, a roast lamb dinner, so here's my second choice - some chips - food close to my heart. So close to my heart in fact the grease has taken up residence
Banana milkshake. I think this is a bit healthier than chips. I hope so. If not, I probably haven't got long for this world.
LEAST FAVOURITE FOODS
I won't spend too much time on this, because these 'foods' are best thrown in the dustbin.
1) OLIVES : Have you ever made the cardinal error of mistaking an olive for a nice juicy grape? Never again - big mistake.
2) LIVER AND KIDNEY : Nope. Vile.
3) MUSSELS, SQUID AND OCTOPUS : I have tried eating these three sea foods several times. Conversely, I've never tried eating a Dunlop tyre, and I never will after eating these three sea foods several times. Maybe it's just that I've never had them prepared by an expert, but I'm really no longer that inclined to find out.
4) CURRY : Anything spicier than the least spicy, most innocuous, most mild of Indian dishes is just not my cup of tea, so to speak. That goes for any chemically hot food.
5) GARLIC : OK in microscopic quantities, but otherwise not at all nice. Garlic and olives are the two things that might put me off living in the otherwise idyllic Mediterranean region - if ever I do a geographical list, that would rank top as my favourite part of the world.
BANANA MILKSHAKE : If you've read this far you'll surely appreciate I am not known for my culinary skills, but the one recipe for which I should be renowned is my banana milkshake. Milk (obviously), banana milkshake powder, several dollops of vanilla ice cream and ice, all shaken together. The trick is to blend it until the ice is not lumpy but gritty. On a hot summer's day it simply cannot be beaten for cool, refreshing deliciousness!
COCA COLA (or PEPSI) : Yes, I'm afraid I've liked this drink since I was a kid.
COFFEE : I'm a coffee person, not a tea person. But I actually don't drink the stuff away from home very much because everyone else makes it too strong and dark. Weak, milky and sugary is my cup of tea (so to speak).
WATERMELON JUICE : In tropical climes this is my favourite drink, and I guess it's quite healthy too.
STRAWBERRY JUICE : For some reason this doesn't feature much in British supermarkets. Every other kind of juice can be found, but strawberry only seems to be allowed to exist in some weird blended concoction of berries. Straight strawberry however is popular in the tropics, and it's delicious.
You'll notice no alcohol here. Sadly, I never developed a taste for it. A major social drawback.
Turquoise? Aquamarine? Cyan? Call it what you like. This is probably my favourite colour
Peach or apricot - I love this subtle pinkish tone
Bright yellow is too rich. But pale yellow - sometimes called maize yellow - is nice
Chartreuse - yellow-green. Cool and natural. Green shades are my favourite shades
I like pale grey tones - white's too bright, pale grey is just right!
Orange is my favourite bright colour. You'll see lots of orange - and green - on my pages
Lavender, lilac, mauve - call it what you like - it's nice
Browns of all shades have their place. Understated - a very nice contrast to other colours
One really dark colour makes it into my top ten - rich, deep purple
Pale blue - you may have realised by now, I prefer pastel shades to bright or dark colours
Thought I'd include this one, just to add a bit of colour to an otherwise drab page. The backgrounds to all the text blocks have also been coloured in these ten favourite shades
FAVOURITE ODDS AND ENDS
Finally a selection of images covering a few other things, people, sights and sounds which matter to me. Not sure what if anything they all say about me, but here they are anyway.
The Blue Morpho
The Eiffel Tower
The Grand Canyon
A total solar eclipse
So that's it. Not much else to say about this page except that lists and databases are addictive. I've got dozens of them saved and regularly updated on my computer, and I could easily add another 20 or more to this page. Favourite countries, most memorable experiences, most important people in my life (that's probably too sensitive a subject to include here) and many many more.
Unsurprisingly, I've also got databases recording my most successful web pages, so the more times you click on this page, the higher up it will go on that list. But really, this is a trivial page. If there is any purpose to this page it is to indicate the kind of person I am and what takes my fancy and what doesn't. Much more than that, the page is just a bit of fun for me and maybe it'll start you thinking about your own lists of favourites - as I say, we all love compiling lists 🙂
I’d Love to Hear Your Comments. Thanks, Alun