No, don’t stop reading before you even start! This isn’t going to be some pishy, hippy, wanky look back at a year in which I have been “blessed” or “found myself”, or a reflection on how *another* year has flown by and I’m one step closer to death (although, that last bit is very true).
I’ve decided to note down a few of my “Top Bits” of 2017, just for shits and giggles (and, because I am at Grown Up Boyfriend’s house and he’s up to his ears in wrapping all of his Xmas presents and won’t let me help. Fucking control freak. We heavily disagree on the use of tags: for him, they are a non-negotiable addition; for me a total waste of money and energy when you can just cut a bit of wrapping paper and stick that on – who bloody notices anyway?!).
So, with a traditional glass of festive booze in hand (well, a can on Aldi’s french-style lager), here we go. This is going to get long, so I’ll split it into two blog posts – this is part 1 (part 2 to follow in the next few days, unless I am comatose after over-indulging on Ferrero Rocher and malt whisky…)
1. Best Read
Ach, I’m going to have to split this into two: one crime fiction and one non-crime fiction, because there have been TOO MANY good authors that I’ve discovered this year.
I’ve read so much crime fiction lately that I could probably a) solve a murder or two b) carry out a murder or two. Incidentally, I do actually wonder how these
deviants crime writers come up with this stuff: just this morning, for example, I was treated to reading about a nonagenarian murdered by someone sticking knitting needles into her eyes. Thank you, Thomas Enger – top class! Mr Enger is amongst a number of superb crime writers who I’ve been lucky enough to come across this year (other honourable mentions for Ragnar Jónasson and Eva Dolan) – but, overall, just by a whisker, my favourite crime novel of this year has been Sweet Little Lies the debut from Caz Frear.
It’s a beauty! Happily, it was chosen for our book group a few months back and it went down a treat. Really intriguing plot, looking at family relationships as well as a stonkingly good murder story. I really hope this is only the first of many novels from Ms Frear and I also hope her main protagonist DC Cat Kinsella reappears.
My fave non-crime novel for 2017 was Gill Sim’s Why Mummy Drinks.
This is a novel from the blogger behind “Peter and Jane”, which I regularly read on Facebook. Really funny stuff. Despite me not having kids, I love her reflections on family life (and her blog is yet another handy form of birth control for me) and so I was delighted that an entire book appeared a couple of months back. I thought it was going to be a collection of her blog posts but it turned out to be an actual novel, which told a surprisingly touching story, but with the same humour and “fuck it” attitude of Ms Sims’ main blog. Laugh out loud stuff – and I devoured it in a day while we were on holiday in Lanzarote. Nice.
2. Best Weekend
Hmmmm ok, so I know this blog is meant to be about Scotland (hence the name) but, overall (though difficult to choose) my favourite weekend of 2017 was my trip to London to see the Pink Floyd exhibition Their Mortal Remains at the V&A. I love London – could NEVER fucking live there, like (the tube just gives me the Ultimate Fear), but I always enjoy visiting. We had great autumnal weather and frolicked about in Hyde Park before the exhibition which was *superb*.
I am a huge Pink Floyd fan and this was just such a treat. A massive bonus was that you had headphones on for the entire duration of the exhibition – so you didn’t have to put up with hearing any folk who were sporting deliberately ancient tour t-shirts blabber on just slightly too loudly on some nerdy detail about some nerdy muso stuff to prove that they are a “proper” fan and wouldn’t give the time of day to anything after Syd Barrett left. Humph. If you know what I mean. No? Ach well, just me then. Anyway, I also ended up dancing in the streets with a bunch of Hare Krishnas in Chinatown that night which, you have to admit, would add to the fun of any weekend.
3. Best Restaurant Discovery
I am a big fan of eating out so this is a toughie, since I’ve had so many good nosh-ups this year. When it comes to places I went to for the first time in 2017, though, it probably has to be Number 16 in Glagsow’s Byres Road, which GUB took me to for my birthday lunch in November. It was bloody great – I even broke my rule of not taking food pics because it was so fab:
And GUB snapped one of me finger-scraping the dessert dish:
Look, it was white chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake – and it was one of the nicest things I’ve ever put in my mouth (matron) – and we were also the only folk left in the upstairs bit of the restaurant, so nobody could witness this uncouth behaviour. Other than GUB – and he’s used to it.
4. Best Gig
Firstly, honourable mentions for The Divine Comedy at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall and Extreme (supported by The Dan Reed Network) at Glasgow’s O2 Academy. The Divine Comedy were just wonderful – they always are, to be fair. GUB is not a fan but insisted on coming since it was on my birthday and even he thought it was great. He thought that the Dan Reed Network were Not Great – but what the fuck does he know? This was a treat for me as I loved them way back in the 90s. To be fair, a lot of their songs haven’t aged terribly well, but it was like being 18 again (with more wrinkles and less youthful optimism) so I had a blast.
Likewise, a blast was had when Extreme took to the stage – I will always love this band, and not just because Nuno Bettencourt is still The Most Beautiful Human Being On The Planet: they are a damn fine live band:
But my gig of the year was Carl Palmer (of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame if you really need to be told, you philistines). This was in the Audio club in a wee backstreet of Glasgow. It is a tiny club, complete with the charms you’d expect (flat lager and a floor so sticky you almost leave your shoes’ souls behind you when you try and move). I was *convinced* I’d been there before in my (dim and distant) youth but couldn’t put my finger on what it was called – a helpful lady in the loos informed me that it was once The Roxy, and a few (K Cider-addled) memories came flooding back. Anyway, this was a fantastic gig. We were right at the very front so could really savour the mastery of this phenomenal drummer – and that of his bass player (Simon Fitzpatrick) and guitarist (Paul Bielatowicz) too, to be fair. I hardly every take pics at gigs (I am only 5 foot 2 and, also, I *fucking hate* folk who spend the majority of gigs staring at the folk on stage through their fucking phones, so I never want to be That Person – I tend to whip out my phone maybe two or three times at the most – as per the photos above) but I did get a few quick ones of the great Mr Palmer, cos I was so close:
An evening of joyous prog and fun – and, of course, with the added bonus of any prog gigs that there’s never a queue at the ladies’s loo, as I’m usually one of a handful of female folk in the audience. At this gig, I counted 8 women – including me – from a crowd of a couple of hundred. Win.
5. Best TV
Sorry, we’re going crimey again here. I bloody loved Professor T which is one of those euro crime dramas that Channel 4 show on their All 4 streaming service as part of the Walter Presents series (by the way who the feck is that Walter bloke anyway?!). I’ve dipped into many of these throughout the year but Professor T was my fave. Kind of a cross between House and Taggart (what’s not to love?!) with the main character being a genius misanthrope who is also an obsessive compulsive germ-phobe, who helps the police catch nasty people, through his knowledge of psychology. Superb stuff – and now I really want to go to Antwerp.
Also currently loving the Norwegian Acquitted and the dutch Black Widow and I am as excited as an excited thing with an extra reason to be excited about the new series of the Danish / Swedish The Bridge which is apparently coming soon. The danish Dicte: Crime Reporter was another humdinger I watched this year.
Fuck – I’ve just had a thought: will bastarding Brexit have an impact on the availability of gritty European crime drama in the UK??!! It better fucking not!! Fucking hell, a dark blue passport is one thing, but try and take away my access to this type of telly and it’s gone too far!! <ends any mention of politics>
Anyway, that’s part 1 done. Part 2 in a few days. Off to check on GUB’s present-wrapping progress 🙂