Life is made up of several things I openly confess I could not be without. My list will be different yours. Yours may include gin, your washing machine or a mobile phone. While I love and entertain all of these choices on a daily basis, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us we are a bit more complicated than that. After basic food and shelter come the need for security and health. This is then followed by a sense of belonging and self esteem, with the ultimate goal of becoming the best person you can be. I kind of get stuck in the middle. I am very fortunate to have all the basics and most of my health. I work on self esteem every day, but my ultimate goal seems to have ever moving goal posts. At the moment I aim to walk again properly. When I’ve done that, I may just jump straight to the Nobel Prize for services to walking sticks. If there isn’t one there probably should be.

So what can’t I do without…let me think.

  1. Easy, my family. The laughter, long phone calls and undying support, the quarrels, disagreements and making up are all part of the real modern family experience. (Imagine in days gone by when women couldn’t even have an opinion…my god I think I would have either gone mad or ended up permanently in the stocks!) Who do you turn to when you want to share your joys and sorrows, your secrets and milestones. Those family connections remain strong across the miles, the oceans and the M62. They make you feel secure, loved and valued. They understand the trials you have been through in your life this far and know your habits. Good and bad. Like leaving your nail clippings in the sink Mr Neo Walk. Just saying.
  2. Also easy, my friends. Some of whom I am very happy to say are also my family. However one doesn’t necessarily accompany the other. Ask Liam and Noel. Meghan and Samantha. Aldi and Lidl. I once read that friends can come into your life for just a short time, sometimes to teach you something, or sometimes to learn something from you. Other friends stay for a long long time, but that doesn’t make those short friendships any less meaningful. They have all been important in your journey. Friends are also important for dirty birthday cards, drunken nights in or out, with or without tears, with or without curry. It is commonly believed that friendships are the most important relationships in your life, even above a husband or partner. A study and research found that more than half of women prefer their best friend to their spouse. So if you’re happy and you know it, thank your friends!
  3. My dogs. For the purpose of this blog I won’t put them any higher than 3. But you all know what I’m thinking. What is a day without a dog or a bit of fur in your hand? My guys are the best company, the best tonic if I’m feeling down or poorly. They unconditionally think I’m the best. They miss me, they hang on my every word. (they don’t obey, they just hang). Actually they’ve rapidly moved up to number 2 now. Sorry friends. Must try harder. My dogs and I have a language we mutually understand, they laugh and talk, they tell me what they want. It’s no fun when they tell me at 6am but we are also working on mutually understanding a few “off” words to combat this. Every day’s a school day. When I am out with them I feel safe, I don’t feel alone and I feel connected to them. We are a big pack and I try to remain the Alpha. I hold the key to the biscuit tin.
  4. Music. Every day it just has to be. It energises me, it takes me to places as much as reading any book does. My imagination vividly plays along and I live life like a little movie in my head to my very own little soundtrack. Mr Neo Walk is a music maker man so fortunately he understands this, however we do tend to disagree on volume, but not often content. We share a Spotify account and as I was scrolling through it this morning I thought what on earth anyone would think if you could see my most often played lists! It would be like the Tesco checkout assistant judging you on your shopping trolley when all it contains is a tin of cat food, some Vaseline and a cucumber.

So lets do it. This is my top 5 most popular albums or playlists on Spotify. Judge me if you like!

5. Chris Rea. (no brother called Di)

He was born in Middlesbrough, and funnily enough so was I, so you almost have to like him as much as you like football, swearing and kebabs. I remember listening to him all the time as a teenager, with my best friend Truly,  and we even went to see him live! Big time night out when you’re only 13. We listened on vinyl too, thats how old yours truly and Truly are! He’s probably best known for the classic Driving Home for Christmas, and lesser known for another famous song Fool if you think it’s Over. Even when I listen to those same songs now I am instantly transported back to our little teenage bedrooms, except the lyrics that only meant a little at that age, mean much more to me now.

4. Soundtracks.

Oh my, do I love a soundtrack, both songs and instrumentals, especially if it was a really good film. My top favourite has to be the soundtrack to The Holiday, the most magical romantic Christmas movie ever, up there with Love Actually and Elf. In this category I am also going to shove in musicals and anything Disney! I admit to having a small obsession and a small tattoo of Beauty and The Beast. I would also defy anyone to say they didn’t love The Greatest Showman. I can listen to it over and over, and often do along with La La Land. I may also admit to having a small obsession with Hugh Jackman, but no tattoo. Honest. Mr Neo Walk plays the piano and for the right price he’ll play me all these songs! My own little slice of heaven.

3. Anything Christmas.

There’s a lot of Christmas songs and music that I really love, but have to admit to being thoroughly sick of about mid November time when it’s all you hear over and over again, everywhere. That’s when the humbug starts to creep in, and your inner Grinch starts to wake up. So why not listen to them during the year when you won’t hear them repeatedly and get fed up of them? Thanks very much, I will do just that. So at any time of year you’ll see that I’ve Decked the Halls, and in September I may well be Driving Home for Last Christmas to Rock Around the Christmas Tree with Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and after a Silent Night when I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, I’ll think Baby It’s Cold Outside and go to bed and dream Fairytales of New York. I love them all.

2. Country.

I am a country cowgirl at heart. If I could line dance I’m pretty certain I would. Country music isn’t just for crying into your beer or filling your heart to bursting point with finger lickin’ patriotism, it can also be pretty funny! After all, when you’re a boy named Sue growing up poor in the middle of nowhere, with only your ma and pa, on a cotton picking farm, you need to have a sense of humour about your place in life, or else you’d shoot yourself. That’s why Loretta Lynn sang ‘you’re the reason our kids are ugly little Darlin’. Jimmy Buffet admitted My Feet Stink, My Head Hurts, And I Don’t Love Jesus. Deana Carter sang those immortal words Did I Shave My Legs for This? Bobby Bare confessed I’ve Never Gone To Bed With An Ugly Woman (But I Sure Woke Up With a Few). How can you not smile! My most listened to would be Kesha, Hunt You Down, baby I love you so much, don’t make me kill you. Or maybe I’m just in it for the tassels and the boots.

1. Mr Burt Bacharach.

I simply can’t thank this man for the number of songs and years of happiness he has given me. As a young child in the 70s I was brought up on the Carpenters, Dionne Warwick and Tom Jones, at home and in the car on old cassette tapes! Singing along to songs that had no meaning to me, and wouldn’t do until I got much older. But I still love them. Some people had Elvis and his Jailhouse Rock, but I had Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head and Do You Know the Way to San José. Which obviously I didn’t, and still don’t. It’s probably the same with everyone, you retain a great love for whatever music you heard when you were young. Old Burt has written so many songs I don’t think even he knows how many. Has there ever been anyone quite as prolific as him? He has a tune for every mood, love, heartbreak and celebration. In fact I have often listened and loved a song without knowing that he was the genius behind it. His trademark piano and harmonica still send a shiver down my spine.

If I had to choose you could take all the others just leave me with my Burt. I think if I had to give my Spotify playlist habits a single word it would be nostalgia. That fond sentimentality for the past, usually for a time or place associated mainly with happiness, but sometimes sadness too. The good old days. But these days will be my good old days in the future. Who will be on my list then I wonder?!!

Nostalgically yours,