Review of 2011 – 3. My Cultural Year


2011 is the year when I came clean to myself that I was no longer the voracious consumer of music that I once was. I have bought a few CDs which I have enjoyed but nothing that I can see that I will love in 20 or more years time like “Disintegration” by The Cure or my collection of early albums on Warp by The Aphex Twin and other pioneers of armchair electronica. Some, like PJ Harvey’s Mercury Prize-Winning “Let England Shake” are by “old” artists from my record-buying heyday when I’d scour the NME, go to gigs every week and spend hours thumbing through the collections at the shops on Berwick Street in Soho.

So my posts on music have been rather nostalgic – from my account of the Desert Island Discs evening we had with some of our neighbours to a reminiscence of a road trip to London to see Julian Cope play when I was an undergraduate. I’m hoping that it is nothing very much to do with being on the wrong side of politics to be allowed to like music. That music has played a big part in my cultural life does still have its echoes in the suprisingly large number of my posts which I have initially unintentionally given musical titles to (although not generally in any way to endorse the particular songs referenced).

Computer Games

I was lucky enough to get an XBox and Kinect for Christmas last year so have enjoyed a few games on it. OMB and I and the whole wider family have spent hours playing Kinect Adventures and Sports. Dance Central has proved a hit at parties, even if it has meant that Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” is imprinted as an earworm. I also loved LA Noire and am enjoying Elder Scrolls:Skyrim even if the latter is a very stern test.

Most of my gaming has been on iPhone – I’ve sunk far too many hours into Bejeweled Blitz and have marvelled at how OMB is far better at physics-based games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope than I am.


Normally I’m an avid reader. This year, few books have really gripped me and the majority of my reading time has been taken up by books I’m reading to OMB. That has given me the chance to reacquaint myself with Roald Dahl’s books and to discover Mr Gum, Captain Underpants, and Mr Stink.

The highlight of the grown-up year of books has been Jonathan Frantzen’s “Freedom“. I was a little underwhelmed by Howard Jacobson’s “The Finkler Question“. I’ve been disappointed at what a slog it has been to read Peter Carey’s “Parrot & Olivier in America”.

I also enjoyed reading Christos Tsiolakis’ “The Slap”. It has its flaws as a book but most of these were ironed out in the excellent Australian TV adaptation that has just finished its run on BBC4.


I’ve never really been a regular theatre-goer but was glad to have seen Speechless at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I’m also looking forward to going to a couple of pantomimes in the next few weeks despite always having rather hated them as a child. OMB’s first Nativity Play will of course be the theatrical highlight of 2011 though!


I haven’t had the chance to go and see a lot of films other than with OMB, so on that basis, Tangled, a reworking of Rapunzel, has to be up there with the best of 2011 for me!

Rather differently, both Lives of Others and Goodbye Lenin were good bookends to watch on DVD either side of our half term in Berlin.


One thought on “Review of 2011 – 3. My Cultural Year

  1. I second your comments on ‘The Finkler Question’ and ‘The Slap’. I had high hopes of Jacobson – some of his columns are great – but it all felt a little navel-gazing for me. This year has been a year of reading only women writers for me. I’ve enjoyed it so much that next year I’m taking on a challenge to read the whole world… (

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