Comfort viewing, making art, and the art of holidays. Here’s some different things I’ve been thinking a lot about this past month. Maybe there’s something here to interest you too?

THE COMFORT OF BRITISH PANEL SHOWS

I read somewhere recently that re-watching shows you’ve already seen is one way our brains try and manage anxiety. This is both worrying and comforting as I have found myself doing exactly this for pretty much the whole year. I have struggled (so much!) to watch anything new, and bamboozled by the choice on offer from all the streamers plus the free to air on demand channels, I fall back on the shows that ask absolutely nothing of me, least of all attention.

This may come across as a terrible insult, but it’s far from it. For me, it’s British panel shows. Quizzes especially. Whether it’s QI or 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown or some other long-running series that involves familiar British comedians pretending to compete for points but actually competing for laughs, I’m sold. I’ve found myself popping one or two on during the day, more for the company than anything else, and often watching one on my iPad at night as I drift off to sleep. I couldn’t care less that I’ve seen it before, often more than once, that’s not the point.

And I’m not alone. Earlier this year, a friend admitted she fell asleep to the dulcet tones of Stephen Fry or Sandi Toksvig too, and another friend also confessed she watched Cats Does Countdown when she was feeling a little stressed and just needed some familiar voices babbling on in the background. It’s a security blanket against a world incessantly warning us of doom while shoving a million new bits of content at us. All of these brand new ‘must watch’ shows, these ‘unputdownable’ books, these ‘era-defining’ Tiktoks. For goodness’ sake, I love all this stuff and yet all I want to scream is ‘piss off!’ to each and every one of them.

I imagine in time things will right themselves, but until then, when I find myself wringing my hands absently or clenching my jaw so hard my teeth are on the verge of cracking, I know what I’m putting on the telly – and it won’t be The Queen’s Gambit

PRINT MAKING

I loved printmaking as a teenager, even completing a series of drypoint etchings for my high school major work, which to be frank, were not bad. But that kind of printmaking is hard when you have little space and no access to a press. So, I’ve only dabbled here and there since. But I took a lino print class recently! Just a quick little one, and I made that print there in the picture. Clearly, I was inspired by the wonderful Angela Nguyen, author of the ‘How To Draw Cute’ books. It’s not the best, but an ok first effort. And lino printing seems decidedly less involved than other types of printmaking, which yes, I still love, but struggle to actually do easily. So perhaps more of this kind in the new year…

HOW TO HOLIDAY?

It seems completely absurd to even mention holidays considering the world’s current state of affairs, but here in Australia, state-wide travel has more or less remained possible for lots of us. Earlier this month, I went up the coast for a friend’s 40th, and had a few days ‘away’. It was meant as a break, but I’m not sure I really made the most of it. It was lovely, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed hanging out with friends and the weather was warm and I even went on this strange and unusual thing called a ‘hike’. I wore jeans. Clearly, I have no idea.

The truth is, I’m not sure I know ‘how’ to holiday. This is perhaps a working class thing, but I grew up in a household that did not go on vacations or trips away. It was seen as a weird and unnatural waste that only wealthy people dabbled with. We often had outings – mornings at the beach, family gatherings at parks with barbecue facilities, that sort of thing. But never a series of nights away in places we hadn’t been before.

How do you actually holiday when it’s not something you’ve ever really been taught? I’ve been away, overseas even, and to be honest, my default position is that a holiday is to go somewhere new and plan nothing. So much of my life is rigid deadlines and ‘having’ to do lots of things. A holiday from this necessitates not ‘having’ to do anything, right? This plan of attack has had mixed results in the past. When I think of the times I have actually made some plans, things have worked out well. Generally. Do I ever come back feeling refreshed, like you’re supposed to? I’m not even sure I know how to feel refreshed. Would I even be able to tell if I was? Ugh… It’s December, the end of an objectively terrible year. Perhaps it’s why I’m feeling so confused and down-beat about this.

I did force myself to go for a morning walk along the beach while I was away, and was gifted the sight of some snoozy pelicans. This was a highlight. I should do more of that…

In any case, thanks for hanging around this year and checking in. If you’re interested in seeing what I wrote during 2020, check back in a couple of weeks for a dedicated post on that side of things…

Have a wonderful summer (or winter!) break, and very best wishes for a much better 2021.

Stay safe lovelies, x

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