Hope you all had a reasonable Christmas. We did but having opted out of a big gathering last year I will never do that again. although as you know it was just as well as Christmas Day 2019 was when my cold appeared, which led on to – see below. From next year onwards I want the busiest Christmases ever. Even so we had a great time just the two of us, and here we are on our usual walk, dressed up to the nines as they say with warm coats as the day was freezing but lovely with a blue sky and sun.
First of all, it’s Mr F wearing a very fine charity shop Harris tweed coat bought some years ago. And here I am wearing my faux fur coat not to make a statement but to keep warm! This was bought several years ago from a vintage fair and I don’t wear it all that often but it was really toasty, and as it’s going to be cold (for the UK) over the next few days it might well have more outings. Warmth also conquered any ideas I had about wearing something glam for Christmas, as under the coat is a black pleated woollen skirt topped by a very thick red sweater both bought from charity shops, the hat and gloves came from Norway and are wonderfully warm as are the fur lined boots.
Having cooked our Christmas dinner (roast beef and Yorkshire pudding) on Christmas Eve, we had very little to do on the day, which was just fab, instead we lazed around, opened presents, read our Christmas present books, and later that day watched the incomprehensible Tenet (Amazon and still expensive at the moment as you have to buy it, but I thought why not, it’s Christmas!) But despite the reviews and its reputation as being difficult to follow I thought it well made and watchable, as long as you don’t fuss about understanding any of it! And having ‘bought’ it we shall look at it again in a couple of months time to see if we can make sense of it all. Not sure that we will, but it was entertaining and worth watching.
Anyway what a year! Oh. My. Word. What a year! But one has to put everything into context. This pandemic is exceedingly nasty, not to everyone, but to those who get it and those who get the worst variation of it, it is not a good prospect. And of course, the year began with me coming bang up against my own mortality with myocarditis from the ‘flu which followed the cold, which was horrible. Anyone who thinks flu is a minor illness like the common cold, think again. But putting all that aside, let us think of all those who are refugees, who are fleeing war and violence and still receive violence and disdain when they reach comparative safety, if they do at all as there are many who lose their lives on the way to safety. And then there are all of those who are in need and are hungry, around the world and, indeed, in first world countries like our own. I could go on but what I am saying is that suffering is always with us and when this blasted pandemic is over, it will continue.
But if I sound somewhat pessimistic, I am not, it’s just that I like to keep my eyes open and be aware. And if you do this, then you can also catch a glimpse of the other side of suffering – hope and the sheer wonder of how the human spirit prevails.
So, let us celebrate everyone and everything that has made life bearable this past year. So I take my hat off to first of all the nurses and medics, not just working for the NHS but around the world. They are so challenged by this second wave and so very very tired but they carry on. Respect. And much respect to all front-line workers too numerous to mention, but hats off to lab workers dealing with all the Covid tests; the men and women who deliver food from the supermarket to our door; the posties who deliver our mail and the people who deliver the parcels we order online; and let us think of bus drivers; and the cleaners of our trains and buses; and not forgetting teachers and teaching assistants going in day after day into classrooms full of school children who may or may not have symptom-free Covid; then there are the volunteers running the food banks that are so necessary these days. There are so many people to thank keeping these taken-for-granted services going. If we didn’t before we realise now how essential they are.
So glad also for the technology that allows us to stay in contact with our friends and family. Here’s to Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype, I’ve used them all, and have so enjoyed chatting with my friends, doing a Pilates class and telling family members how much we miss them.
And then thank you scientists for delivering us a vaccine – many vaccines, in fact. So it’s hurrah and a very big cheer as there is now hope and a way out of this very unusual life we are all living.
There’s so much to be thankful for but lastly to keep ourselves entertained and in the absence of our regular visit to cinemas we have watched a lot of stuff on our television. Thanks Netflix, Amazon, Appletv, Nowtv and not forgetting our own free-to-view BBC iPlayer for providing us with endless entertainment throughout the year.
Which brings me neatly on to my 2020 Top 10 things I enjoyed watching on television.
#10 Parasite (Amazon) Yes, I know that to many critics it is Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece, and is their best film of the year, but although I appreciate it and think it an excellent film these are my favourites and Parasite is up there but not the absolute best of the bunch. Set in South Korea it is a meticulous account of a poor family targeting and inveigling their way into a rich family’s home and world. A mesmerising watch.
#9 Better Call Saul (Netflix) Could anything be better than Breaking Bad for its story arc and the development of the characters within it? Well Better Call Saul is getting close. This is a spin-off and prequel to Breaking Bad and over 5 series we watch the transformation of Jimmy McGill (who is flawed yet struggling to become a decent lawyer) into the wayward and flamboyant criminal lawyer Saul Goodman. Doesn’t sound good or worth watching? But it is and it is the combination of the writing and the acting that makes this a first-class series that has so much more to give as we are still on that journey and I reckon there are at least two more series to come!
#8 A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (Amazon) Well, I knew nothing of the main character Mr Rogers, who was a children’s television show host for many decades, as I think you have to live in the USA to know anything about him. And what’s more I resisted seeing the film as I thought it would be too treacly and sugary sweet. On the contrary it is a delightful film about a very unusually good man and I simply loved the shots in the film of the real episodes of his show. Altogether a very cheery watch.
#7 A House Through Time (BBC iPlayer) This television’s series is hosted by David Olusoga, a charismatic historian and broadcaster. There are several series of his available on iPlayer and really anything by him is seriously good and very watchable. This tells the story of one house in Bristol, and it is a richly rewarding delve into British history and our very deep connections to the slave trade. Fascinating.
#6 Dark Waters (Netflix) Based on a true story this is an engrossing film of the devastation that Du Pont wreaked on the environment of West Virginia and one man’s fight (played very well by Mark Ruffalo) against the corporation. Excellent film.
#5 Staged BBC iPlayer (BBC iPlayer) This stars David Tennant (Dr Who, Broadchurch) and Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon and numerous other films). Do you remember the first lockdown when no-one stirred out of their house, everything was eerily quiet and no-one had worked out how to produce television programmes or films? There were a few one or two-handers and the god-awful Archer’s monologues. Well, this was a two-hander that worked. And so very very funny, because, basically both of them are barking mad. OK, I guess they are playing themselves in an exaggerated way, but really the writing and the personas (personae) they portray as themselves are just so funny. Another cheery laugh-out-loud watch and yay, a second series is coming soon!
#4 I May Destroy You (BBC iPlayer) What can I say! Astonishing and ground-breaking and the writing… so good. Starring the beautiful Michaela Cole it is predominantly about consent but there is so much more to it as well, so many layers. I loved the characters. What a final episode – yesssss! Tbh, this will not suit everyone’s taste but if you haven’t seen it, why not give it a go.
#3 Once Upon A Time in Iraq (BBC iPlayer) This is a devastating series to watch and both me and Mr F have to be in the right mood to watch an episode, but it should be essential viewing for all politicians and indeed, anyone who thinks bringing democracy, and righting what politicians think are wrongs, with military intervention works. Well this intervention certainly didn’t. Interviews are with the people on the ground; both American soldiers, their officers, and more importantly ordinary Iraqis caught up in the fighting. This is a hard watch.
#2 This House is Full of Music (BBC iPlayer or YouTube) If you want to be uplifted watch this. It is a simply wonderful depiction of a very unusual family of 7 children who are all musicians of the highest order. One of them played the cello at Megan and Harry’s wedding. Just fascinating, beautiful, delightful, enthralling, and spellbinding, I’ll stop there, but it is just the best thing to watch ever.
#1 Schitts Creek (Netflix) I know, I know, to those of you who don’t watch Schitts Creek it must sound so unappetising. A very rich family find themselves penniless and move into a motel in the town that they happen to own and is their only asset. Then there is the mayor – so irritating. But it is the writing, it is always the writing, it is so good, and again there is an enormous amount of character development. Honestly you fall in love with them all, even the mayor improves – a bit! As for Moira Rose and her outfits and her jewellery, I laugh and then I think hmmm, I must get a piece of jewellery like that! The episodes are short and each one is a complete story, and if you want to watch something to uplift and cheer you up, well this is our go-to programme.
This is my list of which you’ll say, what no Strictly or Bake-Off, nope, not interested, or what about The Crown? Look this latter programme has had a lot of money thrown at it, it’s OK and worth watching, but it’s not that brilliant. However, a special mention goes to The Great British Sewing Bee (BBC iPlayer) which is enchanting. There’s a Christmas series currently on now, which we are watching. And it is not purely a women’s programme as men always take part, and Mr F loves it for the technical challenge it imposes on the participants.
And finally would you like to see my oldest item of clothing once again (as I have featured this before). It’s like this, before I met my husband, on a holiday in Italy, probably in 1971 but can’t be sure, I bought one of those long cardigans that were so very popular in that era.
And I wore it for my first Christmas with Mr F in 1973.
Don’t you love that one bauble! We seem to have acquired some more but at that time we weren’t even engaged. Across the road from where we lived was the Maudsley hospital and I was a staff nurse there. I remember I worked that Christmas morning and came home to a lunch of roast duck cooked by Mr F.
Now the thing is that cardi has lasted and lasted and when I stopped wearing it as a fashion piece it became my nighttime bed-jacket/dressing gown, which I wear to this day, as in every single day during the winter, and slung over my shoulders in the summer and what’s more there’s not a sign of any wear. There’s a joke in my family that I have to be buried in this item and if it was ever dug up, say in 100 years time, that cardigan is sure to be there intact and pristine!
That’s all for now, but do let me know how your Christmas went, and also whether you have a very old, yet immaculate item of clothing that you wear and wear.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year and, please, let it be a much better year than this one!
With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper