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Andrew (at Farnham Castle in Surrey)


Strawberry Fields Forever The Beatles

This is my all time favourite song by the best pop group the world has ever (or will ever) produce. There is just something about this song that gives you goose-pimples but leaves you with a pleasant feeling. A great many other Beatles (and solo) songs were vying for a position in my six (While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Eleanor Rigby, Beautiful Girl (George), It Don't Come Easy (Ringo)) but in the end this one is the one for me.

Twist In My Sobriety Tanita Tikaram

Tanita’s music occupies an important place in my life, through her music I connected with a number of penfriends around the world, some of whom have visited me and I them. Of all of Tanita’s songs ‘Twist’ is the one I like to hear the most.

Dance of the Knights from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Sergei Prokofiev

I wanted to pick a piece of classical music for my Top 6, but found it very hard to do, so I ended up by plumping for the favourite composer and picking the piece of his music that ‘got me back into’ classics after several years on a pop-only diet. Other near misses included Finlandia by Sibelius, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan-Williams, Dvorak's New World Symphony, Smetana's Ma Vlast and Beethoven's 6th.

Famous Blue Raincoat Leonard Cohen

Good ol’ Laughing Len! Another song which evokes memories for me of that idyllic time between leaving school and joining the rat race proper. There’s nothing like a bit of Len to cheer you up!

Slow Train Bob Dylan

It’s an almost impossible task to pick one Bob Dylan song, there are so many to choose from. Slightly to be perverse and slightly ‘cos I just love it, I’ve picked this song from his 1979 "Born-Again" album ‘Slow Train Coming’, surely his most underrated work.

The last choice was really hard to make. Contenders included 'Like a Motorway' by St. Etienne, 'Atomic' by Blondie, 'Running Up That Hill' by Kate Bush, 'Layla' by Derek and the Dominoes, 'Dear Friend' by Wings, 'Black Eyed Boy' by Texas, oh and too many more to mention.  In the end I went with...

Dover Beach Bangles

As a teenager I fell in love with Susanna Hoffs, both her looks and her voice. As I got older I appreciated that the Bangles were a brilliant group. Having missed their last concerts in England by a whisker I was delighted when they got back together and I could finally "wey-o wey-o" to Walk Like an Egyptian with them. Dover Beach, off their first album, is just a pure slice of Bangles.


Girl with a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier

The most beautifully written book I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Add to that the unusual setting and the fact that it has single-handedly opened up the world of Art to me and I think this is going to become one of the pivotal reads of my life.

The Rainbow Gate – Freda Warrington

Still the book I would take if I could take nothing else. I wish it would be reprinted as my poor paperback version is on its last legs. Staggering visionary story coupled with the grounding in the real world of Leicestershire – the sort of combination that appeals to me hugely. Absolutely THE lost classic of science-fiction.

The Crystal Singer – Anne McCaffrey

A life-long fan of Anne McCaffrey’s work, it is slightly odd that the book I should pick is not one of her Dragon ones, but the trouble there is that they all blur into one brilliant mass of work, whereas The Crystal Singer stands out on its own. I just love the idea of cutting crystals with sound waves and tuning them to power spaceships.

Maskerade – Terry Pratchett

Another of those impossible choices! What Terry Pratchett book to take with me. In the end I plumped for Maskerade just because it has plenty of laughs, superb characterisation and the poignancy which Pratchett pulls off so well.

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

I never thought that such a basic book could be so moving, but there is something about the way Anne Frank wrote and the simplicity of her daily life, the way she accepted the situation so calmly, that fills one with awe, horror, sadness and hope for humanity. This was a 13 year old girl in a situation where most adults would fold up and die in an instant. If you are going to visit the Annefrankhuis in Amsterdam you HAVE to read this first – otherwise you’re just a tourist there to gawp.

Watership Down – Richard Adams

I love this book. It is so much much better than the film! How Adams gets inside the head of the rabbits I don’t know, but it is so believable and so entrancing that I could read it a hundred times and never get bored. And, of course, there is always the hilarious spoof The Goodies did of it to think of!

Other books that narrowly missed it include 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams, 'Among the Russians' by Colin Thubron and 'Playing the Moldovans at Tennis' by Tony Hawks.



I never thought that a film in a foreign language could be so entrancing as this one. Beautifully filmed, brilliantly acted and with that little touch of the fantastic thrown in for good measure. It’s like a sunny afternoon in Paris in movie form. Breathtaking.

Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng-Chiang

Another of those hard choices. From 27 years worth of programmes which one to pick. It had to be Tom Baker, and it had to be early Tom. Talons wins out because (1) it is a six episode story instead of a four and, (2), well it’s just so bloody stylish and enjoyable. They don’t make TV like this anymore. I think I'd be just as happy with The Seeds of Doom, The Green Death or The Daemons mind you!

The Third Man

Tremendous camera work and that insistent music makes this movie one which embeds itself in your consciousness. Apparently Graham Greene was furious at the ‘cuckoo clock’ speech which Orson Welles inserted into the movie … oh well, just goes to show that authors don’t know their own work as well as others!


Walt Disney never did achieve anything better – nor did his studios. This masterwork is one of those films you can watch repeatedly and never get bored. It is funny, clever, exciting, adventurous, arty and so much more. Never let it be said that cartoons are just for children.

Fiddler On The Roof

Another musical! Is that cheating? Well, no, because Fiddler is 10 times any other musical. Most musicals don’t leave you feeling so moved and contemplative. Having seen Topol play Tevye at the Theatre the closing scenes always bring a lump to my throat – big wuss that I am! And, of course, "If I Was A Rich Man"! Imagine singing and dancing along to that on your desert island!

The Simpsons: One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish

How do you pick the best episode of The Simpsons? Well, I had a short-list of about a million, but in the end I went for this episode where Homer eats "Fougou" at a sushi restaurant – this being the deadly blowfish which you can only eat a tiny amount of. Homer is diagnosed with fougou-poisoning and thinks he is going to die the next day. It is hilarious and touching. Masterful.


Gosh, this one is sooo tricky. Obviously I'm supposed to say a picture of Jacqui ... but that's a bit of a cop out really. So, let me see... one of my best penguins? Hmmm... maybe not. In the end it couldn't be anything else really ... it has to be MY CAMERA and an endless supply of film. How could I be without it for so long?!

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