Well, here we are then. After all the planning we’ve done and the curveballs that have been thrown our way, my mother and I are finally living in London! 🙂 We’ve already had our first Christmas as new residents, and now 2017 has got off to a very busy and interesting start.
So I want to bring you up to date with what I’ve been doing over the past few weeks. And instead of posting journal entries like I was doing in Devon, with everything randomly mixed together, going forward I want to try and write more structured Favourites posts each month, where I share the things that I’ve been enjoying the most in the city and elsewhere. The aim is to include details of social events, museum exhibitions, theatre shows, walks, travel, TV, films, music and anything else that takes my fancy.
This first month has been all about settling in of course. There have been plenty of things to sort out at home and regarding my job, but I’ve also got out and about a lot too. In particular, I’ve attended several events by a social group called Thinking Bob, who I’ve been curious about for a while, plus I’ve also been to a museum and had a few nice walks. So there’s a lot to get through here, and I hope you enjoy it!
- New Year, New Home, New Start
- Thinking Bob
- TV Shows
New Year, New Home, New Start
I’m happy to say that we’re settling well into our new home, which is actually my Nan’s house that we’ve inherited, as people who have followed my journals will know. We used to visit our relatives here a lot, and we did a lot of the things that tourists do, so we already know the house and the local area (and I’ve been having some nice walks to explore it more fully), we know how to use the trains and buses to get around, we know many of the attractions, and I’ve also familiarised myself with apps like Citymapper and Google Street View to help me get around. So I feel very comfortable living in the city and finding my way around it, whereas for other people it would be far too overwhelming.
So we’re gradually getting rid of a lot of her old stuff, and replacing it with either our own things from the boxes that we brought with us, or new things that we’ve been buying. There is still a lot to do, and a fair amount we still haven’t unpacked, as we’ve nowhere to put it all yet. But we’ve managed to fish out all the important items.
We also now have a new cooker and fridge freezer, which are working nicely, so that’s allowed to us to get back to having proper meals again. Cheese on toast, microwave ready meals and fish & chips from the local takeaway are lovely and all… indeed, the chippy down the road is likely to remain a regular haunt of ours, they’re very good… but you don’t realise how much you miss things like proper roast dinners or frozen desserts until you’ve had to go without for a bit!
We’ve also had our builder friend come over to visit, with whom we’re arranging to have lots of work done. New central heating, updated electrics and improved lighting are the biggest priorities for him to look at. And we’re in touch with the local Sensory Team to see what help they may be able to provide. So things are moving forward, bit by bit.
The only real issue we had was getting the internet set up, because BT couldn’t transfer our account over as they promised they would. So we’ve switched to Virgin Media instead, and I’ve already written a post giving my first impressions of Virgin’s TV and broadband service.
I’ve also written a post about the fact that I’ve started homeworking for my Devon employer, as they kindly offered to keep me on, so the job security has been very welcome. They installed a dedicated ADSL business line in our house for that purpose, and it was that second line that confused BT’s ordering system when they tried to add a broadband line for our personal use.
It’s developing a social life that’s a much bigger challenge, but I’ve taken steps to try and deal with that, which brings me on to the big main section of this post…
Apart from a couple of relatives who I don’t see very often, and a couple of people I’ve chatted to online after they stumbled upon my blog (one of whom I did get to meet this month as I’ll mention later), I don’t know anybody else in the city. Plus I’m working from home every day as well, and I have a disability. So there is a genuine risk of becoming isolated and lonely if I’m not careful.
Yet it is quite a daunting prospect to try and make friends in a huge city, and it can be difficult to get a start off. I’m not the sort of person who can just walk into a bar and randomly talk to people – it would be hard enough for many sighted people, but it’s even more so when you have a visual impairment. And I’ve never fancied taking my chances on dating apps, as you never quite know who you’re going to get. So I had to think about the best way of approaching things, as I knew I had to do something.
So before I moved I got more involved with social media and did some online research, through which I discovered lots of other bloggers, made a few useful connections, and built up a big collection of sources of information about London and disability and other things of interest, all of which I figured might come in useful.
And one particular social group that caught my eye was Thinking Bob. They came across as very welcoming, including when I sent them a message with a couple of questions, and I saw they had a wide variety of events aimed at young intellectuals, culture vultures, etc, including games, quizzes, sports, walks, general social gatherings, etc. They’re all hosted by staff from the company, or trusted members who have been part of the group for a little while, so you’re always in capable and friendly hands. You just register for socials on the website, and messages are sent by the host of each event to the people who have signed up for it, to make sure they’re all happy and know where to meet up, and are aware of how to contact the host if need be.
It’s all very well organised, and I’ve been to several of their events this month, and so far it’s gone well on the whole. I’ve generally avoided activities that would probably be tricky with my sight problem, but as they have so much on offer I’ve been able to find a lot of things that I am able to do. And there have still been one or two things I’ve tried despite the likelihood that I’d find them hard, as I was curious about them.
The only thing I’ve inevitably found difficult sometimes is making small talk over meals or drinks. For example, there have been occasions where I’ve had a group of people chatting next to me, and it’s not a conversation I’ve felt I can give any input to, which has left me in the lurch a bit when there isn’t anyone else in the immediate vicinity to talk to. But equally, there have been other occasions where I’ve got chatting to someone very naturally and we’ve nattered on about all sorts of things for ages.
It’s luck of the draw ultimately, depending on who you sit next to, and that’s to be expected at events where you’re around people you don’t know. And I found it easier when I did an outdoor walk, because then it’s easier to wander over to anybody in the group and have a natter with them, which you can’t do when sat around a big table in a restaurant. But overall I’ve preferred doing games and quizzes, because they get everyone on each team interacting together much more easily with a common purpose, and they’re just generally a lot of fun.
In any case, it’s quite likely that I’ll take part in fewer of these events as time goes on, if my personal social circle expands as I hope it will, and if I get involved with other things. But at the moment, because I hardly know anybody and I’m still learning about what the city has to offer, I just want to have a good time without feeling like I’m on my own. And this is proving to be an excellent way to do it, because everybody’s been so nice, the events are enjoyable, and it’s been helping me to build up my confidence a great deal.
So here are the events I’ve been to with Thinking Bob this month…
New Members Social
Every new member has to come to a Signature Social event, so they can be welcomed by one of the company staff, and this was the obvious option to go for. It took place in the upstairs dining room they’d reserved at a pub called Ye Olde Watling, near Mansion House and Bank stations. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pretty nervous, but at least I knew (well, I hoped!) that there would be people looking out for me, and there would be other newbies like me as well.
Thankfully I very quickly settled in, because I found the group fairly easily, being greeted by Tori (one of 5 hosts who were helping out), and ended up chatting to a lovely guy called Neil for over 2 hours! He’s done a lot of travelling and a bit of acting training, and had already been a member for a few weeks already (as any members can come to these events to meet new arrivals), so he was able to tell me about a few events he’d done already.
We were also joined for around half an hour by another host called Elliott, who again was really nice, as was an American lady called Shannon who talked to us for a bit. Then later on I ended up chatting to Tori and Elliott some more, and a couple of other people they introduced me to called Chris and Ed. So it was a really nice evening and the time really flew by, it was a wonderful introduction.
Kensington Gardens Walk & Talk
For my second event I met a group of people at Marble Arch, and we had a nice time chatting together as we walked around the beautiful Kensington Gardens that neighbour Hyde Park. The weather was a little bit drizzly, but still mild and we didn’t get very wet.
Neil from the New Members Social was there, so it was nice to see a familiar face. Plus I met a girl called Nicola, who used to work for the police but is now training to become a Tube driver. And I met a couple of other girls called Laura and Kerry, the latter being a big Comic-Con fan and self-confessed nerd, who loves The Lord Of The Ring films, and also makes dresses and costumes with all sorts of fabrics.
The 5 of us had lunch together at a pub called The Mitre in Lancaster Gate, that we all went to after the walk, where I had fish and chips followed by some sticky toffee pudding for dessert. The food was ok, though nothing special, and the waitress didn’t seem to enjoy her job very much, but it was nice to have lunch and a chat after our 2 hour walk.
Neil and Laura had to go home after that, but Kerry and Nicola invited me to tag along with them as they were going to have a bit more of a wander around the area, and Nicola’s boyfriend joined us as well (who isn’t a Thinking Bob member but said he might check it out). So we went for a walk and looked at a few shops, ending up at Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush, before catching the Tube together, getting off at our respective stops as each of us headed for home, having a nice chat together the whole time. So that was a good day out all in all, despite the weather.
Big Bob Quiz Of The Year
My first quiz night was the Big Bob Quiz Of The Year at The Castle pub in Farringdon – which is really easy to find, as you turn left out of Farringdon station and it’s at the end of the street. Kate was a very friendly and welcoming host, and wasn’t at all thrown when I said I couldn’t see perfectly, telling me where the bar, kitchen and toilets were, and finding me a table to sit at with a few other people. So I got myself a Kopparberg cider before joining them, saying hello to Elliott on the way, who remembered me from the New Members Social.
Of my teammates, the guy on my right was Tom, and the lady with us was Ashley, who I had briefly met during the Kensington Gardens walk. Of the two guys opposite, one was an architect called Nick from Essex, who graciously bought me my second cider of the night, while David was from Northern Ireland and works as an NHS pharmacist. And thanks to David’s sense of humour, we chose the team name “Our Sofa Pulls Out, But We Don’t”! We did enjoy hearing that read out by Matt, the quizmaster! We all got on well together as a team as well, everyone was very nice. I was the newest, while the other guys had been members for a month or two already, and Ashley’s been with Thinking Bob for ages, having lived in London for 6 years.
The quiz was all about 2016 of course. There were 5 questions on each month, which we had to answer on the sheets provided. There was also another sheet on the table, with 5 pictures of music acts who had Number 1 hits in 2016, 5 quotes from people in 2016, and 5 pictures of sports personalities who won gold in 2016. And we did pretty well – we tended to average 4 out of 5 on each of the months, and didn’t do badly on the other sheets either. The music acts seemed to be the hardest bit. There were also a couple of bonus points on offer for tweeting a team photo, so we did that using my phone, adding the caption “Winning team” to be cheeky!
Once we had done the questions for June, we were given a small tub of Play-Doh to make a model of our favourite scene from 2016. The top 3 models rated by Tori, who I’d met at the New Members Drinks, would be given 3, 2 and 1 point scores respectively.
Ashley and David mainly worked on our model, while the rest of us watched. They did a representation of Harambe the gorilla, who was shot in 2016 after he picked up a kid that had got into his zoo enclosure and dragged him around. It caused outrage when the video was posted online, with people very upset that Harambe had been killed, as he wasn’t at fault, he was only behaving naturally (possibly even trying to shelter the boy), and the kid wasn’t seriously injured. And it led to one of the stranger hashtags of the year – Dicks Out For Harambe – which was a silly over-the-top tribute to him. So we surrounded our Harambe model with a number of small cock and ball models to refer to that.
We didn’t get any points for it being one of the best models, but it made people laugh, and we did get a bonus point for tweeting it, again from my account. Given that it was a direct tweet to Thinking Bob without explanation though, any other followers would have had no idea what it was!
Ours wasn’t the only explicit model – indeed, there was one much worse that I won’t describe here to be polite! But other teams created models of Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, the Olympic rings, the green diving pool at the Olympics and Leicester City winning the Premier League.
At the end of it all, out of the 10 teams that were there, we came third with 60 points! And we were only 3 points behind the winners! So we were very pleased with that, as it was very much a team effort, we all contributed to it. The quiz had started just after 7:30pm, and although it was supposed to go on for 2 hours, it ended up being 3, so the time flew by once again! It was certainly a really good night, being around lots of people who were very relaxed and friendly, and I was able to chip in with answers while having a chat and a laugh with my teammates, so I felt fully involved.
Cards Against Humanity
Until this month I had never played Cards Against Humanity, but I’d heard about it from friends before and it sounded like a lot of fun, so I had to give it a go. And I’m glad I did, it’s hilarious! The game is simple enough, in that you have to complete a phrase using one or more of the cards in your hand – but it’s very adult in nature, and not at all suitable for the easily offended! However, if you don’t mind throwing away all sense of political correctness for a couple of hours over a few drinks, then it’s a brilliant way to spend a night.
I played the game at a pub called The Alwyne Castle, which meant I had to get a London Overground train to Canonbury, a place I’d never heard of before (the other nearby stop is Highbury & Islington). That’s the first time I’ve ever used the Overground, but the trains are nice and big, and I had no problems with it. The pub was less than a 10 minute walk from the station as well, so it was easy to find.
We simply formed into a few groups around the tables and played the game from soon after 7pm until we all went our separate ways by 10:30pm. I had a few of the more polite (i.e. boring) cards to start with, but as a few people left early and we got down to 4 or 5 of us playing at our table, I was winning more hands and getting into my stride more. It does help to have a little bit of time, and more importantly a drink or two, to really get into it when you’ve never played it before, so you can turn off any morals you might normally have! And there was a bit of chatter too, naturally. I hadn’t previously met any of the people I was sitting with, but it was a nice mix of newcomers and longer-standing members.
So I enjoyed myself, and I’m going to go to the next Cards Against Humanity night in February, as a few others are planning to do I think. I won’t go along every time they do this of course, as it would get repetitive, but I’ll definitely be playing it again.
Friday Night Drinks
This took place at a pub called The Theodore Bullfrog, just around the corner from Embankment station, so it was easy to get to. It’s one of their bigger regular gatherings, so it was quite busy, with 60 people having signed up! And it was a good night. I had 3 bottles of Rekorderlig cider while chatting to people like Chris (who I’d met at at the New Members Social, and it turns out he has aniridia and nystagmus like me!), Nathan (an American guy, who wasn’t happy with Trump winning and being inaugurated), Andrew (from Australia), Ola (a lady from Poland), Petra (originally from Hungary and a complete newbie to Thinking Bob), and a few others. They were all really nice.
The only issue was that it was a really noisy and busy pub, so it was hard to hear conversations sometimes. It was fine when people were talking directly to me, but trying to listen in to conversations next to me was difficult. And there were a couple of occasions when I was left on my own, when people went to the loo or to get drinks. So there were a few moments where I was at a bit of a loose end – only brief moments that lasted a couple of minutes, but still, you notice them. Everyone was very nice though, as I say, it’s me that’s too quiet sometimes really. Not a big deal, but I’ll probably avoid really busy, noisy events like that in future, as it’s been much easier to chat at the quieter ones. But it was still a good night overall.
This was a lovely afternoon out at The Marquis Cornwallis near King’s Cross station, where I had a roast pork loin, with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, vegetables and a bit of crackling, along with a bottle of Kopparberg cider. I was sat with Andrew, the guy from Australia who I had met at the Friday Night Drinks, and Lauren, who is originally from Liverpool and works in A&E. We had a nice time chatting during our time there, and the host, Sofie, was really nice as well.
After the meal we all went for a walk through Russell Square, as we were going to go to a dessert café there. But it was closed, so we went out of the other side of the square and found another little café that did cakes and warm desserts instead. I sat next to Andrew again, and opposite Nicola, who I’d met on the Kensington Gardens walk. Lauren was also at the table, and a few other people I didn’t know. We had another good chat together while having our desserts, which for me consisted of a warm Belgian waffle with chocolate sauce and two scoops of ice cream, which wasn’t amazing but it was still nice.
Cocktails & Cryptic Crosswords
This took place at the Counter bar next to Vauxhall station, and it was a nice night. There was only 7 of us around our table (3 guys and 4 girls), and together we worked through a cryptic crossword. A crib sheet of helpful tips from the Crossword Tutors website was given out by Becks (aka Rebecca Gregory, the founder and CEO of Thinking Bob), and I was able to understand how each clue worked as it was explained, so I managed to solve quite a few with a bit of prompting. So with practice I reckon I could do ok at them. It does take some getting used to though! And Becks did suggest sticking to just one newspaper if you want to do more of them, so you’re getting clues by the same writer, as they all have their own ways of doing things.
Apart from the crosswords, I had a cocktail as well. I asked the waiter to recommend one that was fruity and not too strong, and I got a Kir Royale – which, according to their website, is Perrier Jouët champagne, Chambord liqueur and blackberry. It wasn’t worth the £12 it cost (plus the service charge of about £1 each), but it was alright. And the drinks took ages to arrive, Becks had to prompt them a couple of times.
Plus, when I went to the loo, I forgot that our seated area was up a slight step, so ended up tumbling onto the floor, smacking my right hand and knocking a bit of my left arm in the process. I wasn’t seriously injured though, so I managed to brush it off while everyone checked I was ok. The bottom part of my right hand was a little bit sore afterwards, and I had a slight ache in my left arm, but I was fine. It was just one of those frustrations that happens now and again when you can’t see properly!
Anyway, after we’d done the crossword, a few of the others had drinks – I couldn’t be bothered by then, as £12 was enough to spend – and we all had a nice chat. Becks is very friendly, and was pleased that I was getting involved with plenty of things. And she’s also encouraging us to go on one of the longer hiking socials with her, which I will gladly try if I get some proper boots, and I’d need a decent rucksack to carry lunch in too. And I’d rather do it when the weather’s a little bit warmer. But it’d be nice to try a hike at some point.
So it was a nice night all in all. I wouldn’t go to that venue again necessarily, because of the prices and the slow service, and I don’t think the others were too impressed either. But it was worth trying. And the main purpose of the evening – getting into cryptic crosswords – was fun and interesting. A couple of the girls struggled with it I think, but we all understood the reasons behind the solutions in the end, so nobody was left out. And we were also given a second crossword to take away and try out if we wanted to, as well as taking away the crib sheet with useful pointers. So I’ve been able to solve some of the clues for that, working through them bit by bit.
This was an enjoyable evening hosted by Chris, who I’d met at the New Members Social and Friday Night Drinks previously. There were a few of his friends there too, but it was mostly Bobbers (Thinking Bob members), so there were about 15 of us. I sat opposite a guy called Simon, and we were sat next to ladies called Marion (who has a flat with a beautiful view near Greenwich) and Sarah (a mental health academic and lecturer). The latter two did most of the talking, so I didn’t really get overly conversational, especially when they were talking about Donald Trump or their jobs, neither of which I could really add anything to. But it was still interesting to listen to them on the whole, and I did get to talk sometimes, including about what I do. People seem to be impressed that I’ve become a homeworker!
As for the food, that was nice too, though not exceptional. I had chicken tikka for a starter, which was essentially chicken pieces on a skewer. And then I had a lamb balti with egg rice and garlic naan bread. As we were at the Standard Balti House in Brick Lane, trying a balti seemed the logical option, and I enjoyed it. It had a little bit of spiciness to it, but only to a medium level, so it wasn’t overpowering or uncomfortable. I always avoid the really hot stuff! The final bill, which we split between us, came to about £18 each, including tips, so that wasn’t too bad.
And as the restaurant has a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) policy, that meant we could bring in our own alcohol, and there was a very handy off-licence directly opposite. So I got a couple of bottles of Magners cider there before entering the restaurant. A few people went on to a bar afterwards, but I decided to make my way home, as did a number of others, as I’d had enough to eat and drink by then. I was a bit thrown by the fact that the two entrances to Aldgate East station nearest to Brick Lane were shut, but using Citymapper (an incredibly useful app for planning journeys) I was able to find one of the entrances that was still open. So I got home without any trouble.
ClueTrace: Mind Crime
My final Thinking Bob event of the month was another new experience for me – an escape room. I’ve always liked the idea of visiting one, as I’m a big fan of puzzles, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to see well enough to do them, and whether I would be relying too heavily on other people as a result. However, as my sight is reasonable, I figured it was worth taking a chance on it, to satisfy my curiosity. You don’t know unless you try these things.
In an escape room you’re part of a team who are locked into a single room, or a connected series of rooms, and you have a time limit (often an hour) to solve various puzzles in order to get out. There’s usually an over-arching story or mission to it, along with background music, sound effects, props, etc, to make it a cohesive and entertaining experience. Solving the various puzzles and finding items that are hidden in the room may allow you to unlock doors and boxes, give you information that you’ll need later, or present you with further puzzles to solve. Some rooms are even quite high tech and elaborate in nature, using technology to automatically move things along. And the game controller watching from the outside can give you clues if you need it. It’s a good way to get you thinking, that’s for sure.
So this particular escape room was called Mind Crime, by a company called ClueTrace. I got there by going to Dalston Junction station on the Overground, which I’d never heard of before. But it’s quite an easy walk from there to the building – though it is slightly tucked away, so I’m glad I checked its location online first!
I went in with 2 ladies called Jody and Louisa, who I’d never met before, and we got on well. Unlike me, they had both done escape rooms before, one of them in particular being very experienced. They’ve also both done the Crystal Maze experience as well apparently, which they enjoyed and I’d also really love to do one day. Though, again, whether my vision would be a preventative factor, I’m not entirely sure. Based on the TV show, I reckon I could be ok, but who knows? I’d be up for trying it though, if I have a group of friends to go with one day, who are all prepared to spend the money, as it’s quite a lot. So if I do get around to it, it won’t be for a while yet. But it’s definitely on my wishlist.
Anyway, we were greeted in the lobby by a nice French lady, and there was a jar of sweets and some bottles of water on the table, so naturally we helped ourselves to the sweets rather than the drinks! Then she explained our mission – that we would be inside a criminal’s mind while he sleeps, and would have to get the account number and password in order to draw the money he’s stolen out of his account. She also showed us a few examples of the padlocks we would see, each of which had combination dials on, so you could turn them to select a specific number, a bit like a number lock on a briefcase.
Then we went into the game itself, which is made up of multiple areas. The main room is very well lit, while another is virtually pitch black (on purpose because of the task it contains, so I was fine with it), and a further room contains quite colourful lighting. Other than that, in terms of the visual aspects, some of it was impossible for me to see, which I’d expected would be the case to some extent. For instance, I couldn’t read what was on a computer screen in the first room, and there was an image I couldn’t see the markings on as it was at a distance, though I could still see enough to know what it was generally about.
None of that mattered though, as the vision of the other 2 players made up for what I lacked. And in other aspects of the game, I could see well enough, and was therefore able to find some of the hidden objects and read a number of things by holding them close up. The lady we had met also gave us a few clues during the game via the computer screen, as and when we needed them, which was good. It’s wonderful when you can solve things by yourself of course, but it is important to get the balance right between it being challenging and being fun. You don’t want get too frustrated, and take so long that you never get to see the whole game. So we were happy and grateful for the little nuggets of assistance she provided, as they always came at the right moments.
I had wondered if I would end up being little more than an observer by watching the other two players solve the game, especially as I was new to it all, and to some degree that was true. However, there were plenty of occasions when I was able to point out things I’d found, offer up ideas and help the other players to solve puzzles. So I did feel included and invested in the experience, because I’d been able to contribute to it, and as such I really enjoyed it and found it rewarding. The room is really nicely put together, which you appreciate more and more as you unlock further aspects of it, and the puzzles are very good, because they get you thinking without being too tough. And the lady in charge was really friendly and helpful too. In the end, we got out in 44:09, meaning we had just under 16 minutes of the allotted hour to spare, so we were pleased with that!
British Museum: Large Print Focus Group
Apart from all of the Thinking Bob stuff, I also had a nice afternoon at the British Museum, taking part in a focus group about their large print guides. I was with 5 other participants, and the meeting was hosted by Selene Burn (the museum’s Access & Equality Manager) accompanied by an independent researcher.
After the initial introductions we proceeded to look around a couple of the galleries – 4 of us spending 20 minutes in one, with 2 people in the other, before swapping over. In each case we had to find the large print guides and use them in whatever way we wished to look around the gallery.
The guides were tricky to find to begin with, and we had some trouble matching up what was in the guides to the exhibits that we saw. The guides were designed differently too – one was spiral bound with a band of colour to distinguish each section, while the other was in a folder that I found easier to hold, but the text in the latter was much thinner and harder to focus on. Points like this were picked up during the group discussion afterwards, and Selene was very glad about the feedback. It’s all been recorded, and it’ll be written up and fed back to the museum, so it’ll be interesting to see how far they get with it. It was an interesting visit.
One of the other participants in the group was James Buller, who has aniridia like me and is one of the trustees of the Aniridia Network. This was the second time I’d met him, as I had joined him and others for an aniridia meetup after Sight Village last year. But this was the first time we’d had a chance to get together by ourselves, so we had a nice long chat over a few drinks in a pub near the museum that evening. We’re looking at how I can do a bit of volunteering for the Aniridia Network in my spare time, to help with the communications and social media side of things, as he’s been quite impressed with my blog posts and Youtube videos, including a few conference presentations videos I’ve already edited for him. So that could be interesting, there’s no harm in giving it a try. We’ll see how it goes.
Just briefly, talking of my disability and Youtube videos, I’ve published a new one this month that you might like. It’s called the Visually Impaired People (VIP) Tag, in which I answer questions about being partially sighted, and it’s based on the blog post I did for it last year. So I hope you enjoy watching that.
I’m not going to mention every single programme I watch in these Favourites posts, because I just want to focus on the most significant things that I’ve enjoyed. For example, I won’t usually mention repeats of old shows I’ve seen, DVDs I’ve rewatched, and programmes I wasn’t very keen on, unless I have good reason to do so, as that would be overkill and rather pointless.
Likewise, for shows that come out with a new series on a regular basis, I won’t necessarily describe or mention them every time unless there’s something significant to say, otherwise it’ll just get repetitive – though in these early posts I’ll make a bit of an exception, as I am writing a new series on my blog in effect.
So here are the new programmes that I’ve particularly enjoyed this month, most of which are comedies, but they’re topped and tailed by a major drama and a talk show.
- Sherlock – Series 4 of this brilliant drama was shown this month, consisting of 3 episodes. It’s definitely been a darker series, as they promised it would be. And it was quite a shock that they killed Mary off in the first episode – although browsing the internet afterwards, she apparently died in the original books, or it was at least heavily inferred, so it wasn’t a surprise to some. And besides, even without that, it was probably going to happen at some point anyway. There there other big twists during the series too, and I enjoyed the finale, as it had a great story, tied up loose ends, added context to earlier episodes and placed the show on a fresh footing for (one hopes) a fifth series. I also bought the Blu-ray steelbook that was released soon after the final episode was broadcast, even though I don’t have anything to watch it on at the moment. Getting a new Blu-ray player isn’t a priority purchase, but once I get one it’ll be fun to rewatch the series.
- Peter Pan Goes Wrong – This was a hilarious comedy special about a stage play that became a disaster in every way possible. It was by a company called Mischief Theatre, who do a few West End shows, and I would love to see them live based on this, it’s brilliant. It was also fun to see David Suchet as their star guest too.
- Not Going Out – I’m glad this is back for a new series, though it’s quite different now that it’s set in a new house with Lee & Lucy’s children. So it’s taken a little bit of getting used to, but it’s still pretty funny.
- QI – Host Sandi Toksvig has done a wonderful job taking over as presenter of this panel show from Stephen Fry, and they’re currently showing the ‘N’ series. This is always very interesting and very funny, and the guests are always great, and so I always watch the extended XL editions rather than the short half-hour shows.
- The Big Fat Quiz Of Everything – The occasional Big Fat Quiz shows on Channel 4 are always good fun. This edition was hosted by Jimmy Carr as always, and featured Jonathan Ross, David Walliams, Katherine Ryan, Aisling Bea, Noel Fielding and Richard Ayoade. It was also great to see Paralympian Jonnie Peacock asking a question in the studio, while The London Philharmonic Choir gave us an unusual take on hip-hop and rap songs. Plus there were the traditional appearances by Charles Dance, Jon Snow and the children of Mitchell Brook Primary School.
- 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown – This is a mash-up between the comedy panel show 8 Out Of 10 Cats and gameshow Countdown, neither of which I tend to watch on their own. I have done occasionally, but have never got into either of them in a big way. But I love this crossover between the two. Jimmy Carr is again the host, while Sean Lock and Jon Richardson are great as the team captains, Rachel Riley and Susie Dent are good sports for doing this on top of the original Countdown show they also work on, and the guests they have on are usually very funny as well. The weak point tends to be Dictionary Corner, as some of the guests there have been awful – but then sometimes you get legends like Bill Bailey there too, so it’s not always bad. So overall the show is really enjoyable, and they’ve done loads of episodes now. It’s easy to overlook in the schedules sometimes, as it moves around a bit, but thankfully I’ve series linked it on my Virgin Media Tivo box so I always get the new episodes, just like all the other shows I enjoy regularly.
- Room 101 – In this show, celebrity guests try to persuade host Frank Skinner to consign the things they hate into oblivion, never to be seen again. Some guests and the items they choose are better than others, but it’s always quite funny overall.
- The Last Leg – The latest series of this show started at the end of the month. Adam Hills, Alex Brooker & Josh Widdicombe are always very funny, as they look back over events in the news and other things that have caught their eye, and answer people’s “Is It OK?” questions, with the help of different guests each week. Adam and Alex both have prosthetic legs, Alex also has hands that aren’t properly formed, and the show was launched during the Paralympics in London in 2012, so it’s wonderful to have a prime time show with disability representation like this. Their first episode for this 10th series came after a particularly rough week of news though, so they asked David Tennant to reassure everyone that things would be alright, which I think we all needed to hear.
- John Bishop: In Conversation With… – I don’t watch talk shows very often, and it’s only since getting Virgin Media installed that I’ve been able to see this one anyway. So while I won’t be paying the series much attention in general, as a big fan of The Last Leg I did enjoy watching the repeat of the episode where he interviewed Alex Brooker, which was very interesting.
So that’s it, thank you for reading about my busy start in London, I hope you found it interesting. My mother and I are delighted and relieved that our plans have finally come to fruition, the homeworking is going well, my confidence is growing now that I’ve been able to go out so much and have a good time with lots of people, and at this early stage it really does feel like it’s been worth the wait. But it’s also still early days as well, so let’s just hope things continue in such a positive way!
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