Friday, 26 February 2021

Chop’s Fives: Daytime TV

I needed a topic that was a little easier to manage this week and for some reason Daytime TV has been in my thoughts a lot more over the last few months. Can’t think why. 

1. Bargain Hunt - Hands down my favourite daytime programme. It’s become part of our lockdown routine as we aim to have lunch when it’s on and have now set up a series link so it doesn’t matter if we’re late eating. The temptation is to try and have a go but I think we’ve seen enough episodes now to know we’d make a massive loss. 

2. Win, Lose or Draw - Initially hosted by Danny Baker (who I have something of a love/hate relationship with) this was effectively Pictionary for telly and featured mixed teams of celebrities alongside members of the public. Danny was at his witty best so it was disappointing when Shane Ritchie took over and the show list some of its irreverence. Shane only lasted one series before being replaced by Bob Mills who became my favourite host. 

3. Countdown - I’ve been watching this on and off since Channel 4 launched in 1982. I’m still embarrassingly awful at the word games (always figured I might improve with a pen & paper to hand but almost 40 years have gone and I’ve not made the effort) but I am slightly more successful with the numbers. 

4. The Mallorca Files - This is a more recent discovery. It’s a little like Death in Paradise so feels like an evening programme with a slightly reduced budget. I love a murder mystery and this ticks all my boxes. It benefits from a sunny island setting, which was just what we needed in the depths of a lockdown winter, and has two very watchable leads. 

5. A Country Practice - Long running Australian medical drama that initially seemed dreadful but won me over in an era when television options weren’t as plentiful as they are now. It had quite a large cast, who often dropped in an out but helped create a broad dramatic dynamic. 

Friday, 19 February 2021

Chop’s Fives: Songs that make you cry

I find many songs make me teary eyed, some because of the memories associated with the first or main time I heard them, some just because they’re great. I love nothing more than singing along with a favourite song at the top of my voice (and slightly out of tune), it’s the best form of therapy. 

1. Five Years by Liz Green - A Bowie cover (obvs) that Liz did for a Marc Riley session on 6music. The original definitely gets me but Liz’s version was astonishingly raw. There’s a moment where her voice cracks and it sounds like she might not finish the song. Unfortunately this has never been released but Marc does play it occasionally and it hits me every single time. 

2. Wires by Athlete - They were not a band that I associated with outstanding song writing but this song has a pretty consistent affect on my tear ducts. Written about the singer’s first child being on a incubator when first born it transports me back to the birth of my children and the emotions of those first few days.  

3. Hurt by Johnny Cash - The song on it’s own, a cover of a Nine Inch Nails original, is powerful enough but the video undoubtedly pushed the emotional impact up a few notches. Johnny was 71 and in poor health, his wife June died shortly after the song came out and Johnny was gone by the end of the year. The love they had for each other is evident and this feels like a powerful final statement (notwithstanding further recordings that followed). 

4. You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory by Johnny Thunders - This one hits me on many levels. Just a wonderful song with a brilliant lyric. 

5. We’ve Only Just Begun by Carpenters - This one is all about memories of my Mum & Dad but particularly my Dad. We’d often go on car trips, usually for Dad to do chores or visit pals but mainly to get us both out the house for a bit & I vividly remember listening to The Carpenters in the car and being incredibly sad to find out about her death. 

I’ve had a huge response on Twitter, not least thanks to Pete Paphides getting involved, so the embedded playlist will expand as I work my way through the many suggested songs. 


Thursday, 18 February 2021

Chop’s Fives: Songs of Protest & Revolution

Over on Twitter, where these recent fives originated, the song theme topics have been really popular and I’ve tried to add all the suggestions to Spotify playlists. I’ll try and embed the link below. 

I ended up combining songs about Protest & Revolution as I had favourites that straddled both topics and thought it made the topic a little more open to interpretation. 

1. Oh Bondage! Up Yours by X-Ray Spex

2. Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine

3. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott Heron

4. Fight The Power by Public Enemy

5. A Change Is Gonna Come by Aretha Franklin

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Chop’s Fives: Films of the 00s

My favourite films of whatever you call the decade from 2000 to 2009. 

1. City of God (Meirelles/Lund) - A compelling exploration of drug crime in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. Many of the cast were residents of flavelas and that, along with the wonderful cinematography, created a very real feeling of tension throughout the story. 

2. Hidden / Caché (Haneke) - The first Michael Haneke film I saw and a film that really struck a chord with me and invigorated my desire to see more art house movies. I love the subtlety of it, you’re never quite sure what’s going on and Haneke doesn’t spell much out. 

3. No Country For Old Men (Coens)
 - A slightly darker feel for a Coens film but a fabulous retelling of the Cormac McCarthy novel. Tommy Lee Jones & Javier Bardem are both outstanding despite rarely being on screen together. Classy cinematography & some scenes that still stick in my memory many years later. 

4. Shaun of the Dead (E Wright) - Bought this cheap on DVD from a pal who worked for the film company with no idea what to expect. It’s become one of the films I’ve watched most often and honestly gets better every time I see it (which is about once a month on itv2). 

5. This Is England (Meadows) - Such a great cast & probably Shane Meadows best film. He has a naturalistic way of directing that allows the actors to really own & develop their characters. 

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Chop’s Fives: Matchbox cars

I’ve been wanting to do this top 5 for ages. My favourite matchbox cars as a kid. Probably my favourite toy growing up. My best mate would come round every Friday and we’d spend hours racing cars down plastic track. 

1. Volks Dragon (1971) - My oldest and fastest car. Used to have a daisy sticker on the bonnet. Never let me down in a head to head race.

2. Dodge Challenger (1975) - No. 1 in the matchbox catalogue for years. Loved the US muscle car styling of this one & it was pretty reliable in races too

3. Ford Escort RS2000 (1978) - A more contemporary car that was less good “on the track” but looked classy in back garden rallying through the flower beds. 

4. Porsche 911 Turbo (1978) - I was a bit older when I bought this from the post office shop but despite initially seeming a little dull it became one of my favourites. Opening doors too.

5. Lamborghini Countach (1973) - This was my nemesis for many years. My best mate’s favourite car and one I didn’t own. I eventually caved in and bought one of my own.

Friday, 12 February 2021

Chop’s Fives: Favourite NFL Quarterbacks

 After a few weeks of trying to keep a lockdown diary of sorts I ran out of steam. That was partly me failing to find the time to write stuff that probably wasn’t of much interest to anyone but future me but also the feeling of unrelenting sameness that came with trying to survive a pandemic. Things haven’t entirely improved but the faint glow of light is glimmering in the distance.

Meanwhile, I’ve continued with my bullshit on Twitter (where it’s quick to write stuff and you feel less obliged to make it lengthy) so I’ve something of a backlog of Top 5s I could share on here plus a whole other project I’ll explain in a separate post. 

If you’re still occasionally reading this blog then thanks for the patronage & apologies for the haphazard nature of updates. Let’s see how long I keep things going this time. 

I’m a long time NFL fan, having first seen the Super Bowl via Grandstand who showed the highlights of Super Bowl XVI in 1982. Almost forty years later I’m still staying up into the small hours to watch the season finale (even though I really don’t like the now undisputed greatest QB of all time). 

All that is a long lead up to my Top 5 favourite Quaterbacks. 

1. Joe Montana Joe Montana was the winning QB in that very first game I watched. He lead the San Francisco 49ers to a 20-0 lead half time over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals got back into things in the second half but Joe Cool stayed true to his nickname and helped ensure the Niners held on to win 26-21. Montana remained a top performer for many years as I watched more NFL and whilst I didn’t end up a 49er fan I always admired his ability & poise. 

2. Aaron Rodgers - I’ve recently converted to being a Green Bay Packers fan and A-Rod was part of the attraction. A remarkably talented QB who rarely turns the ball over. The fact he hasn’t won more Super Bowl rings (1 win, 1 loss so far) shows just how difficult it is to achieve. The Packers came mighty close to getting back to the big game this season and in doing so Rodgers claimed a 3rd NFL MVP of his career.

3. Russell Wilson - In my wilderness years (the period when I stopped following my first team and watched less of the sport as it went exclusively to Sky) Wilson was one of the bright sparks. A mobile quarterback who did as much with his feet as he did with his arm. Wilson is a little like Rodgers, hugely talented, genuinely nice guy and a little unlucky not to have won more. 

4. Joe Theismann - Joe was THE man who won me over to NFL and made me a Washington fan. Channel 4 began showing highlights during the strike shortened 1983 season. Theismann & that Washington team seemed to overcome all the odds to make it to the Super Bowl that year and I was hooked. Joe had bags of personality too, maybe not as talented as Montana but really gutsy.

5. Peyton Manning - The first quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two different franchises. Hugely talented and with a howitzer of an arm. 

Feel free to add your fives in the comments.