Arts & Culture / 2011, our A-Z of the Year

Or at least of those things, jaded and happy on the 22nd December, that we could remember…

A is for avaaz – giving the good people, the millions of ordinary people, a real voice. A great thing.

B is for Barry the Barber – a Geordie in Spitalfields via New York, great haircuts & beard trimming, good chat, good vibes.

C is for Christmas, still wonderful, longed for, magic, restful and festive in the right measure.

D is for, sigh, hopefully, the effectiveness of the Durban accord.

E is for employment. We don’t like self congratulation but occasionally need to reassure ourselves – so, whatever else we do, good or bad, like it or not, we provide jobs for 160 or so people.

F is for fireside. By which we’re looking forward to sitting over the next week or so.

G is for Grayson Perry, a fresh breeze through the art world: profound, funny, unpretentious. Or Gorwydd Caerphilly cheese made by our good friends the Trethowans in Wales. Utterly delicious.

H is for The Harrow and the Harvest, Gillian Welch’s new album. Quiet, serene, gorgeous. And for the Hannah Barry Gallery, doing more and more good work in Peckham and beyond.

I is for good investigative journalism, as in the work of Nick Davies at the Guardian.

J is for Japan, where we spent three wonderful weeks last January; our affection only strengthened by the country’s amazing resilience in the face of real disaster.

K is for The Killing II. Maybe not the most convincing of twists and turns in the plot – but the Scandi Noir atmosphere! The casting! The photography! The knitwear!

L is for Leonardo da Vinci at the National. So crowded but, with patience and gentle use of shoulder and elbow, one can find oneself two feet from some of the world’s greatest paintings – and then the crowd disappears, quietude asserts itself – just you and the painting remain.

M is for Maltby Sreet Market in Bermondsey – a great, quieter alternative to the now overcrowded, over-touristed Borough Market.

N is for the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, generally for its great, under-acknowledged art collection but particularly for its brand new, world-class modern art galleries.

O is for Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots. Bad things have happened – are still happening! We need protest!

P is for PJ Harvey – and particularly for her latest, Let England Shake.

Q is for Quality not Quantity, a precept close to our hearts. : )

R is personal so please excuse us – Rachel and Nat’s wild, wonderful wedding in May. Long live love.

S is for smoked salmon of unbelievable deliciousness from Hansen & Lydersen. Smoked in Stoke Newington where Ole keeps a piano in his smokery.

T is for – of course – Toast. Which, working here, we love – occasionally to the point of exasperation; and now, just before Christmas, to the point of (happy) exhaustion.

U is for the Universe which, we learnt on an In Our Time (BBC) podcast, is 13.7 billion years old. And, between the age 36 and 37 seconds, expanded from being smaller than a proton to being larger than a marble. And has been growing ever since…

V is for Voices Across The World: curated by Orlando Gough, the brilliant composer, at the end of July. Singers from around the world, performance, video art, extreme karaoke – all over the Royal Opera House last July.

W is for Wales, of course. And also for Andrea Arnold’s new, beautifully shot film of Wuthering Heights.

X is for Jamie XX’s remix of Gil Scott-Heron’s (already fab but sadly final) album I’m New Here.

Y is or the great Yohji Yamamoto’ exhibition at the V&A. Wondrous clothes, improbably wrought but functional, elegant, imaginative, technically astonishing, culturally resonant.

Z is for… zzzzzzz. Which is what I’m going to do when I’ve finished this list and knocked off for the year.

A great big thank you to you all, an enormous Merry Christmas – and all very best wishes for 2012.


Image: Leonardo da Vinci, Virgin and Child (‘The Madonna Litta’), about 1491-5. © The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. 2011. Photo by Vladimir Terebenin, Leonard Kheifets, Yuri Molodkovets

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