Here’s my last playlist of the year, for December 2023. It’s a vibrant mix of ’70s hard rock and ’80s kitsch’n’disco, vintage funk and soul and ambient house, old-skool blues and nu-soul, plus a bit of dub reggae and some festive themed numbers for Christmas recently past.
Obviously these are just the ones I have read, and I am a slow reader. But I enjoy a good novel, with good characters, and I try to alternate my novel-reading with the occasional non-fiction book.
Looking at the list, it’s only now I notice that while the first (The Bee Sting) is very much an Irish book about an Irish family, the next five all have themes of race.
Vivian Stanshall was one of those great British eccentrics. I came across him in my teens on John Peel’s radio show, where he regularly narrated extracts from his satirical saga Sir Henry At Rawlinson End.
There’s a compelling argument that we’ve had enough Christmas songs to last a lifetime and don’t need any more. But this one has that same seasonal sense of sadness and nostalgia as Fairytale Of New York.
Lots of good films this year, and a massive revival in cinema receipts thanks largely to an old-fashioned head-to-head with Barbenheimer over the summer. And I’ve just noticed that five of my top ten have female directors, which must mean #MeToo has had some sort of impact in cinema.
Brian Auger is a name that rings a distant bell to me but ought to ring a lot louder. He’s a bit of a zelig, turning up with his Hammond organ in the unlikeliest places ever since the ’60s. Not just his organ either.