In my own time
- Have I Got News For You is the BBC's longest-running panel show, and is, without question, my favourite TV programme. I am exasperated by politics and politicians, so it seems logical to wish they would be presented on a show which regards no one as sacrosanct. The feature I love most is the contrast between Ian Hislop's satirical, political rhetoric and Paul Merton's deadpan and, at times, surreal comedy.
- Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis is a novella in which I found a great deal of human nature, ironically catalysed by the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, who is transmogrified into "an enormous bug". His family are disgusted by this hideous incarnation of the son they adored; his father expresses his incomprehension in fits of rage which, ultimately, engender Gregor's demise. I loved the honesty - and, at times, humour - of the narrative. It refuses to parody the reasons he has metamorphosed; instead, it deals with his present trials. The tale charts Gregor's experiences as a beetle with great verisimilitude - knowing only that which he does, and disappearing when he falls unconscious - but it, too, undergoes metamorphosis, lapsing into omniscience when Gregor ceases to live.
- Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is perhaps the most influential album in the history of contemporary music. I became aware of it via iTunes adverts last winter and was intrigued by this band about whom I knew little. I found its fusion of so many forms of music notably different from what I was used to, and felt enlightened. Sgt Pepper reinforces, more than any other album, The Beatles' position at the apex of popular music's development, and renders the band as spokespersons for a generation.