RotW (2): How to Fail, Cats (2019), Frenchman’s Creek, r/relationships, Cooking with Gordon Ramsay is an Absolute Nightmare, Anne with an E

Week 2! Welcome, friend. This is my round-up of the stuff I’ve been watching, reading, and listening to over the past week. I’m writing these less as an exercise in anything actually resembling cultural criticism, and more as a record of the things I put in front of my eyes and ears throughout 2020.

The accidental theme this week is FAILURE.

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day
Podcast of deep-dive interviews exploring and celebrating failure, hosted by journalist Elizabeth Day

Bless the holy algorithm of Acast for giving me How to Fail. I bloody love Elizabeth Day; her voice sounds like all of my favourite teachers combined, she’s empathetic and insightful, and she’s incredible at setting her guests at ease. She full on cries with them. I have full on cried with them.

As someone who attended ‘the school for young achievers’ and then did very well academically, but is currently crashing headlong into every real life obstacle, it’s cathartic to hear that other people (especially ‘successful’ people) have fallen at the same hurdles as me, and it’s been helpful to re-orientate my approach to failure.

This podcast is also particularly soothing for anyone else who thinks they might have fucked up their twenties because apparently IT GETS BETTER IN YOUR THIRTIES GUYS

Cats (2019)


Look, if you’re not keen on the idea of watching various celebrities stuffed into bodysuits and coated in Digital Fur Technology™, their distorted faces floating vaguely in front of a pair of constantly twitching cat ears, I sincerely doubt that anything I say is going to convince you that Cats (2019) is worth your time. (It is though, and you should watch it.)

This was, unconscionably, my second viewing of Cats. I think it needs a second viewing so your soul-scream can quieten down enough to actually enjoy the dancing and the music. It’s all very…it is Very. Yes, it is.

This time round I noticed that whilst the composite of the cat people into their backgrounds of London streets and ballrooms is mostly okay, unfortunately their strange hairless feet rarely make proper contact with the cobbled streets or the dance floor – and if their feet do touch a surface, their naked toes clip slightly through that surface and everything sort of flickers in and out of existence. So that’s good, isn’t it.

One hundred MILLION dollars.

Frenchman’s Creek
What?: Novel by Daphne du Maurier about a fancy lady who runs away with a pirate (probably, I haven’t got to that bit yet)

am enjoying this book, honestly. I like du Maurier’s writing style, the characters seem interesting and subversive, and the plot is promising some great things. Unfortunately, the book starts with this weird chunk of present-day, flash-back-y description that just gave me a mental droop, and I can’t shake off that feeling even though I’m now a few chapters in. I’m determined not to DNR this because I know I’ll like it if I just spend a bit more time with it, but I’ve already had it out of the library for a month and it’s looking more and more like a failed effort. Some words of encouragement, please, because I can tell the pirate’s going to be really sexy.

What?: A Reddit board where people post their relationship questions and find solace through the wisdom of crowds get told to break up with their partners

This is what I’ve been reading when I should have been reading Frenchman’s Creek.

Cooking with Gordon Ramsay is an Absolute Nightmare
YouTube video by Up Is Not Jump that made me and my husband laugh so hard that neither of us could stop coughing up phlegm for a long time afterwards but honestly the video is really good and that’s a recommendation.

A young man makes something which looks absolutely nothing like Gordon Ramsay’s beef wellington, and which I sincerely hope he and his nice wife with the trombone did not eat after filming.

Anne with an E
What?: The most beautiful TV adaptation of anything, ever.

I could, and perhaps will, write a whole essay on how important Anne of Green Gables was to my sense of self growing up, so I’ve been thrilled at how totally Anne with an E has lived up to (and exceeded) my childhood memories of Avonlea. It’s so completely stunning to look at that you could easily just enjoy it for the aesthetic, but it’s also wholeheartedly sincere, unabashedly emotional, and incredibly brave in how willing it is to mark out its own story – just like Anne herself.

Unfortunately, Anne with an E fits despairingly well into this accidental ‘failure’ edition because the CBC/Netflix partnership recently fell apart, which means they’re FAILING (do you see what I did there) to give us any more episodes after this season. It’s particularly disappointing because series 3, while not exactly resting on a cliffhanger, definitely ends at the start of a new chapter, with some plot threads dangling unresolved. If you’ve been thinking of watching it then please, please do, as soon as possible, and let’s hope someone swoops in with a pile of cash to give Anne her feature film finale at some point in the future.