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The battle for G2

Back to work tomorrow…

It’s a consolation at least that there’ll be a chance to look at G2, the supplement to the Guardian.

Despite our loyalty to the Times on Saturdays, it’s fair to say that G2 has some of the best articles in the daily paper supplements.  Hence the battle for G2 – it’s the most popular section of the papers to read at breaktime or lunchtime.

So, in the spirit of celebrating writers for the Times, I should mention one or two for the Guardian as well.

Top of the list, although she has actually stopped writing a weekly column, is Maureen Lipman.  It doesn’t matter what she writes about, it’ll be funny – and there’ll often be good food mentioned as well as theatre, TV, or whatever she is up to at that point.

Part of her success is the way she writes about herself in a self-deprecating way – although someone managing to keep up all this activity must be doing something right.

The Guardian also has some other good options, including a very good longer-length film review (on Fridays), plus other more light-hearted sections.  Sometimes there are profiles where someone well-known puts in pictures of various things that are important to them – usually quite an interesting selection.

There is also a ‘head-to-toe’ of where a particular person gets their clothes from and why they make the choices they do.  This led to my discovery that Jon Snow, newsreader for Channel 4, always wears co-ordinated socks and ties.  You may think he’s made an effort for the suit and tie look onscreen, but the people in the studio get even more sartorial impact.

Sadly, that’s all the columnists’ names I can remember for now.  Better sharpen the elbows and get back to checking who’s who in the next issue.

Keep taking the supplements

Confession time: I’m not very good at reading newspapers. I’m sure I should. But I’m always more interested in the supplement sections, especially on a Saturday.

Buying the Saturday Times has been a bit of a ritual for some time, and I won’t write at length about it here. But I guess one of the reasons we keep buying it is to see what the various columnists have been up to that week.

So, in the spirit of sharing our favourites, here are some of the columnists who write (and have written) well:

Kate Muir: the original. Kate has kept our attention for nearly 10 years now, writing from Paris, then Washington DC (lots on politics there), and now back to London. Kate is a Scot from Glasgow, so there are occasional comments from a Scottish perspective on some feature of England.

Kate’s topics: wide-ranging. There is quite a lot on bringing up a family in London, and dealing with yummy mummies there; the attempts to get an allotment; occasional pieces on feminism.

And from time to time, she goes on holiday to Argyll, and we can read about descriptions of places that are near our holiday haunt, the Isle of Jura. Her main achievement in this respect was tipping us off to the burger bar at the top of the hill the Rest and Be Thankful. It’s a glorious drive, and can be made even more so by a high-quality bacon roll.

Robert Crampton: otherwise known as Beta Male. While Kate is situated near the front of the Saturday Times magazine, Robert is on the back page, making a career out of not quite getting it right.

Robert’s subjects tend to be reasonably domestic, sometimes sport-driven, often with the option for him to record statistics along the way. We learn about the satisfaction of ‘getting a [washing] load on’, of local cycle paths, of the savage tendencies of his children’s hamsters.

Robert also shares some of the games he comes up with along with fellow columnist Alan Franks: try for yourself, although you may need to improve your knowledge of football and sub-Saharan African leaders.

Peter Paphides: now no longer writing his own column, Peter used to have the front page of the Knowledge, the entertainment section of the paper. Peter also tended to write about family but also music, his main area of knowledge.

Some of the best pieces involved him trying to encourage his daughter Dora to say what she thought of bands like the Clash. Dora was generally more interested in Dora the Explorer – if you have a television show apparently named after you, there’s no real substitute.

That’s enough for now. Just remember that most of these are available online now. No excuses!

Quite Interesting

We’re not intending to do an account of lots of TV, music, film etc that we like.

Honest.

But we can’t go without mentioning Stephen Fry’s QI – quite interesting – quiz show on a Friday night.  For any lovers of trivia, it’s a must.  And for those who just feel tired and consider going to bed early on a Friday night, it’s worth staying awake a little longer for.

A lot of the delight comes from seeing the regular panel member, comedian Alan Davies, get a lower and lower score every week, while also practising his mock-Mexican accent from time to time.

Accents also get an airing with Mr Fry himself, who usually manages to include a range within each episode.

Even more impressive is the range of talents other panelists bring to the show, whether it’s Jonathan Ross’s seemingly limitless knowledge of comic books, or Roger McGough coming up with new poems during the show.

A.J.Jacobs – writer of that book about the Encyclopedia Britannica I mentioned in another post – would be proud.

For those who are still unconvinced, have a look for yourself.

 

Blogito, ergo sum

“I write online, therefore I am…”

No, it’s not that bad, honest.  I’m just writing lots of posts now to account for the last year.

I’m not a diary keeper on the scale of Michael Palin, who somehow seemed to keep a diary every day, amid the dead parrots and tropical fish called Wanda.

Nor am I a notebook keeper on par with Robert Crampton, writer for the Times, who has bike ride stats for several years at least.
But yes, I used to keep a daily diary.  I do have a notebook a year, with info on visits, meals out and the like.

I promise not to put the back catalogue online. But a little light writing is fun, particularly when: 1) it’s not required for work  2) I don’t have a quota and 3) the evening’s TV is less appealing.

I’ll see how much I keep writing when we’re into the New Year, the evenings (finally) get lighter again, and there are rival claims on my attention (spring bulbs to look at, perhaps?).

The Princess Bride

We have to reassure readers that the name of Dan’s company, Inigo, was not in fact taken from this film.  It makes for fun reading though (thanks to Dan’s colleague Colin for lending us the book).

The Princess Bride has joined the collection of books or articles that we read to each other from time to time.  The other main contender at the moment is a book about a man who chose to read his way through the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.

We’re up to ‘n’ now.  Perfect for long winter nights.  However, have to confess that The Princess Bride has taken the lead for now.