What would be on your family playlist? (And what’s the best-known Beatles song?)

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To celebrate the recent launch of the iPhone 6 handset and its family sharing functionalities (you can now share purchase from iTunes with up to 6 people in your family), I was asked to compile a family playlist and, honestly, I got quite excited. I love a playlist, me, and I make them for each of my books and also for different moods and experiences (currently also compiling both Halloween and Christmas playlists).

UnknownOne of the things I love about iTunes is that I can have books and music and TV shows and films all in the one place, so it’s perfect for a family playlist. In fact, the most-played music on there is Phineas & Ferb. That’s not me. (Apart from Love Handle’s You Snuck Your Way Right Into My Heart. I love that one.)

The boys have also been asking a lot about The Beatles, so we’ve been listening to quite a few of their songs too. In fact, Harry asked me what the most famous Beatles song is. Not the best, but the best-known. Any idea? I think it’s Yellow Submarine. David said Yesterday (which hadn’t occurred to me) and Help, All You Need Is Love and Let It Be have all been suggested.

Remember when I asked for recommendations for Harry’s ‘musical education’ playlist? We still listen to that too. We actually need to add some more for Joe…

imagesFilm-wise, both boys are a bit obsessed with Charlie & the Chocolate Factory – they’ve seen the original, but prefer the remake (sigh) – and have watched it over and over. Also on the playlist is Despicable Me, which none of us ever gets tired of watching (“Curse you, tiny toilet!”). I’m about to download Out of Sight because I haven’t seen it for years and George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez are at their sexiest. No, it’s not family-friendly, but you know what they say, if mum’s happy…

mightybThe TV shows section of my iTunes is like a wander through the boys’ TV obsessions over the past few years. From Teletubbies to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Peppa Pig to Horrible Histories and the Wallace & Gromit Collection. Plus a couple of Peanuts specials forced on them by me (they made me nostalgic when I was a kid, I can hardly bear them now!). One of the most recent additions is Amy Poehler’s animated series, The Mighty B!, which is anarchic and hilarious.

UnknownThe Radio 4 sitcom Cabin Pressure is, I think, essential for a family playlist. For a while, the boys listened to an episode before bed (actually, so did I) and flying back from holiday recently, they both got very excited when ‘cabin pressure’ was mentioned as part of the safety demonstration, thinking that perhaps Martin, Douglas, Carolyn and Arthur were on board. (Almost as excited as I’d have been had Benedict Cumberbatch been on board. But I doubt he flies Ryanair much.)

What’s on your family playlist? 

Imagining otters. Or why you’re ALWAYS writing.

UnknownA few months ago, Susie Day and Rainbow Rowell – two authors I LOVE – introduced me (via Twitter) to the Radio 4 sitcom, Cabin Pressure. I immediately became completely obsessed. It’s hilarious, addictive and brilliantly written.

One of my favourite moments is in the episode Ottery St Mary when one character says he can imagine a million otters (don’t worry about why) and another says you really can’t imagine a million anything and so they work out how many otters they can actually imagine by thinking of how many they could fit on the plane.

I mention it because John Finnemore, the writer and creator (and one of the stars) of Cabin Pressure has a brilliant blog and in this post, he wrote this:

For the origin of the otter-imagining game, have a look at this blog post I wrote three years ago. I like that I titled it ‘I am supposed to be writing a sitcom.’ Little did I know I was bunking off writing Cabin Pressure series one to write a bit of Cabin Pressure series three.

I notice this kind of thing so often. Old notes I’ve made, pictures I’ve saved, articles I’ve torn out of magazines, books I’ve bought, even songs I like, all popping up in my writing. I’ll start writing something – or planning something – and then a little ping will go off in my head and the next thing I’m rummaging around to find the perfect thing, saved before I knew it was the perfect thing.

Sometimes I don’t even remember or look, things just appear. Last week I had a meeting with an editor (I know!) and we talked about something I may write. Yesterday, I was looking through a folder on the computer – actually looking for a high res jpeg of the Emma cover – and there was a photo I’d saved at least a year ago, probably more like two, PERFECT for the thing I may write. It’s like those tweets that say things like ‘Thank you drunk me for leaving the chinese takeaway leftovers for hungover me’, but it’s ‘Thank you past me for knowing future me could use that photo.’