2020 Has Not Been Completely Shit and Here is Definitive Proof

You heard me. I’d normally consider doing the Indifferent Ignorance awards, but I don’t feel like dedicating time to ignorant people… they are the reason I spent Christmas Day in tier 4. I’m also mindful that it’s important to count our blessings, not our curses, so in this post I’m going to share some of my favourite entertainment and arts discoveries of the year, plus a few personal/family highlights.

Things that blessed my ears in 2020

  • Lauv’s record, which I bought a copy of back in February or so, and kind of became the sound track to early lockdown.
  • Tim Minchin’s record. It’s… not his usual stuff. Some of the songs are sharp and sarcastic, but if you’re looking for more black comedy-philosophy, this album will disappoint. It’s mostly about how much he loves his wife and children. I cried.
  • The news my friend Tatchiana applied for a Master’s degree. MY FRIENDS ARE SO CLEVER YOU GUYS. I don’t even fully understand the topic she’s researching.
  • The Umbrella Academy put a soundtrack out and:
Klaus Hargreeves dancing in a liquor store
from Giphy
  • As well as re-entering the world of academia, Tatchiana introduced me to the Magnus Archives podcast and I guess I’m a fan of horror stories now? I’m kind of late to the party because it’s been running for years and finishes in 2021, but if you like a) creepy stories with the odd god that’s gross and really clever moment, b) short stories that slowly merge into one overarching Story and c) office politics, you’re in for a good time. (Aside: I realised partway through that Martin really reminds me of Arthur from Cabin Pressure. The programmes have nothing in common except that they’re audio, but I can’t unhear it. I don’t know if there’s a Venn diagram of Magnus Archives/Cabin Pressure listeners but if there is: do you hear it too?)

Things that blessed my eyeballs in 2020

  • I finally got around to reading the Noughts and Crosses series (or most of the series? There seems to be more books than I realised), and it is Very Worth the Hype. So’s the TV show.
  • I also got round to Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky. It’s very long and a horror novel – this is a theme – both of which usually put me off, but I really got into it. Brilliant last page too.
  • Bill Bailey in Strictly Come Dancing.
  • The news that my cousin and her boyfriend bought a house! A whole entire property in this economy. Epic.
  • Real Life Money by Clare Seal. It’s a memoir-advice book by the lady who runs the My Frugal Year Instagram, and it’s really interesting. If you’re at all into finance, money management and/or consumerism, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I don’t usually love memoirs, or advice-y novels, but this one is non-preachy, well researched and quite important in these uncertain times.
Real Life Money, book by Clare Seal
  • If you want to buy any of these books, by the way, I have a Bookshop account. Every purchase made through my little page earns me one fifth of a penny or suchlike. Am I being shameless? Um yeah, I don’t have a regular job as of Christmas Eve. I’m also on Goodreads if you want to see what else I’m reading and chat about books. One upside of lockdown was spending so much time reading and I am already planning my reading list for next year. So many books, so little time! Speaking of books, the prettiest thing I saw this year was:
  • My book coverrrrrrr. Also, you know, seeing the book available to purchase. I wasn’t sure it was going to be released this year – or ever – and I’m a tiny bit proud of the work that went into it. Not bad going for someone who spent their A Levels wearing a wrist brace and their early-mid twenties dealing with chronic pain, crippling anxiety and on-again-off-again depression, huh.
blue and white illustrated cover of 'The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories of Unlikley Heroes' by Francesca Burke, including stars, a large dragon, a skull, moon, swords, a rabbit and a tower
Cover by Nell from Instagram. Click here for book-related joy/info

Things that blessed my ears and my eyeballs in 2020

  • The second series of The Umbrella Academy. I love it. I love it so much. It has everything I want out of TV, plus a Baby Pogo. TRULY WE ARE BLESSED.
  • Videos by A Small Wardrobe on YouTube (I talk more about Patricia’s channel and learning about minimalism here).
  • Videos by Annie, who posts as the Green Witch on YouTube. Sometimes the algorithm suggests videos that you didn’t know you needed. Annie has a witchy YouTube and a nature-y YouTube. They are both very peaceful. Taking 10 minutes to watch calm, nature-y has turned out to be quite good for my brain.
  • In the same vein, I’m thoroughly enjoying videos by The Cottage Fairy.
  • Olive and Mabel.
  • Schitt’s Creek. I know I know, I was late to that too. I cannot recommend a more soul-warming programme. Other TV I’m brilliantly late to: Derry Girls, Nighty Night, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Ghosts.

What have you enjoyed in 2020? You’re allowed to say banana bread and Netflix. You’re allowed to say ‘realising that the friend I checked in with during lockdown never checked in with me, and now I am disengaging.’ You’re allowed to say ‘not having a big, overwhelming Christmas.’ What are you planning for new year’s eve?

GIF of David from 'Schitt's Creek' saying 'I plan on popping a pill, crying a bit and falling asleep early.'

Jut kidding, mostly. I’ll probably have a bath, pour a wee drink, watch the clock to ensure this hellscape actually ends, and get my beauty sleep. I’ve got things to do in 2021! Nothing ostentatious, of course. My plans are mostly to read a lot and maybe bake some more banana bread. But I may as well do them on a full night’s sleep, especially as there is literally nowhere to go. I’ll talk more about that (my plans, not tier bloody 4) in my next post. Probably.

Look after yourselves and happy new year!

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In which there’s some imagery about bread

Evening!

I’m going on holiday tomorrow and I realised I hadn’t written in since the start of July, so I thought it was high time I pop in. It feels like a billion years ago that I wrote up my LOTR review; I can’t one hundred per cent remember what I’ve been doing in the last six weeks? I cut my hair into a bob (2020 took my plans and my money; it may as well take a foot of overly bleached split ends). I’ve nearly finished the Major Arcana series and ordered some pencils. I uninstalled Instagram from my phone and installed the newest series of Umbrella Academy onto my brain. I’ve eaten in a couple of restaurants (weird but okay) and done a bit of shopping (less weird but all right once I remembered what it’s like to be in a room with more than 4 people).

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about where I’d like to take this blog, and where I’d like to put my time. I haven’t decided anything except that I’m glad I’m taking a break. Making decisions after six months of Pandemic Life is like making decisions on an empty stomach: you might get it spot on, or you might end up crying in a heap and stuffing bread into your mouth while trying to block out the sound of self loathing.

So, yeah, nothing yet.

Look after yourselves!

F.

Look Out for the Ides of March. Ish.

Morning. I can’t remember the last time I blogged this early, but I can barely remember the last time I blogged, so.

I can’t believe that February has been such a short month on paper, yet 2019 already feels as long as 2018 did. Then again, in the last month I’ve moved house, edited dragonnovel to Seriously, This Looks Like a Book levels of completeness, run a little marketing workshop (yeah, me talking to a room of strangers!) and wrestled the Mini to the side of the road after it broke down going round a roundabout. Shout out to Paul the RAC guy for towing me 3 miles in fog to the garage. Bad vibes to the lady in the Range Rover who watched the tow van pull out of a junction and tried to fit between the van and the broken-down car the van was pulling. Also, your lights were off.

Frank Iero fuck off gif
from Tumblr

Anyway, there is a point to my 8am drop-in. Well, other than my inherent need to post here at least once in every calendar month in case I look like a flake. I’m putting together something very, very cool and dragonnovel-shaped for patrons, which I hope will be ready to go in March. It’s not quite done cooking yet, but I’m more excited about it than I have been about anything I’ve made for a while so this is basically me warning you that in a few weeks’ time, you’re going to see quite a lot of overexcited Tweets and probably a fair bit of blogging. IT’S GOING TO BE COOL. You’re also going to see a lot of caps-lock. Not sorry.

I need to have a shower/wrestle my hair into a ponytail/drive my newly-fixed Mini to work so byeeeee. Wait. Who’s been watching The Umbrella Academy? I got a 30-day Netflix trial out of curiosity and couldn’t believe a) how fun and weird the entire universe is and b) how much I had forgotten how fun and weird the entire universe is. I mean, I probably won’t renew Netflix until the second series airs, but still.

 

Holiday Post 2: Literature Appreciation Post #2

I wanted to talk about Tim Minchin, but my Internet’s so slow that going on YouTube is futile. Instead, writing this the day before I leave, I’ve decided to make a list of holiday literature.

  • Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. I’ve wanted to read this ever since Life on the Murder Scene, and found it in Waterstone’s for an absurdly low price. All I know so far is that it’s written by a Scottish guy and is about drugs, so I’ll let you know how I get on…

  • Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean.  Got this on the same Waterstone’s trip. It’s supposed to be good, what with it being “the most successful graphic novel of all time”. It was written by a Scottish guy who’s done a lot of drugs, so we’re on the right track.
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I’ve actually already read this (I started it in Greece two years ago, then picked it back up when I got into Pencey Prep at the end of last year). Holden Caulfield is becoming a character I really, really want to have a conversation with. We agree on phonies, so it’ll be fun to flick through.

  • The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audry Niffenegger. Whose surname is wonderful to type… I started this then got distracted by Jane Eyre (which, incidentally, you should read). My mum’s copy has a TARDIS sticker on it. No Doctors so far, but we shall see.
  • Skullduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy. Light entertainment that Ellen, Bel, Ross and Maxim – the Inner Circle, as they should probably become known – love. I have yet to finish the series. But it’ll happen, damnit.
  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. Mum’s been telling me to read this for years, and since it’s on my recommended book list for next year and is set in Kefalonia, I figured I should make hay while the sun shines.
  • The Umbrella Academy by Geezy Way and Gabriel Bá. More light entertainment, because I love it dearly and heard rumours (reading that back I just noticed what I did. Bazinga!) of a new installment in the next five years. Dallas is my favourite of the two because there’s Vietnam and ice-cream.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird. Not to reread (BUT YOU SHOULD READ IT. NOW), I just want to write fan fiction about Mayella Ewell. We’ll see how that goes…

My mum’s also talking about getting Fifty Shades of Shit Grey at the aiport.

Insert my disgusted face here.

**Update 07/08/12**

It occurred to me on holiday that while I credited the writers of the comics, I did not credit the artists. This has now been amended.

In regards to the books: I finished them all while we were away apart from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which I finished about an hour ago. This is because I also read Murder Most Fab by Julian Clary, one of Isobel’s books, and took a break after Trainspotting – two days of reading crappy magazines. Mum didn’t get Fifty Shades, thank God, and my favourite story was Captain Corelli for the plot, followed by Trainspotting for its insane brilliance, and Arkham Asylum for Grant Morrison’s notes at the end.

Ahem. Read on.

**Second update 07/08/12**

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin isn’t set in Corfu, it’s set in Kefalonia. My Family and Other Animals is Corfu. This too has been amended. I am an idiot.

Frank and I’s Name, Cake, Morningwood

I paused in my surfing of the Interwebz the other day and noticed that it’s been more than a week since I blogged. Ruby said “Shame on you, Francesca,” and she’s right, so here’s some nice old-fashioned madness:

  • On Saturday I learnt how to spell Frank Iero and I’s name in Greek (I realise it’s not strictly necessary to mention Frank, but it means I have another tag and something else to work with when it comes to titling this thing):

  • Happy birthday Chantal Claret! Let’s all be bummed we aren’t seeing Morningwood’s last shows with Mindless in a few months (if you are seeing them, pffft).

  • I just saw an Umbrella Academy poster in the comic book shop in The Big Bang Theory.
  • WordPress decided ‘titling’ isn’t a word.
  • It’s taken me almost two hours to write this, which is longer than parts of 10 Days. but in my defence I have spent the evening making cakes (not pancakes. That was last week).