This week in podcasts


These days, if I’m not reading, I’m probably listening to a podcast. In fact, my love for podcasts is probably the reason that my yearly books-read total has taken a bit of a dive, because I can’t get enough of podcasts, and sadly, as good as I am at multi-tasking, I can’t listen and read at the same time.

So I thought I’d do a semi-regular series (all of my series are semi-regular) in which I simply round up what I’ve been listening to. If I can pull my finger out enough to make this a weekly thing, I will. If not, it will be as often as I can find the time to write it.

Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year is a brand new podcast that has been established to replace the Radio 2 Book Club, that used to make up part of Mayo’s Drivetime show. With the advent of a scheduling change, the book club was dropped, so Mayo and his former co-host, Matt Williams, have started this new podcast to fill that gap. The first episode features a fiction and a non-fiction pick: Widows by Lynda La Plante and Reveal by Robbie Williams respectively. The episode includes a chat with each author, both of which are illuminating and interesting (even for a major non-Williams fan like me), and the chemistry between Mayo and Williams that worked so well on the Radio 2 show is here in abundance. There’s also a section for unpublished work, with this week’s episode featuring a story from a ten-year-old that was sent in by his mum. It’s a tried and tested format that works, and while it’s a shame that literary coverage has been dropped from primetime radio, this is a great replacement.

Now into their fifth season, this week The West Wing Weekly covers the fifth episode of the fifth season of The West Wing – Constituency of One. The fifth season is a problematic one for many West Wing fans, as it was the first without the Messianic figure of Aaron Sorkin, and at the end of the last season of this podcast, we learnt that one of our co-hosts, Hrishikesh Hirway, had only watched up to the end of the Sorkin era, and is watching most of the episodes from here on out for the first time. This episode features an interview Jennifer Palmieri, the former White House communications director for Obama, and was communications director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. As ever, this is a podcast that pays very close attention to the details of the episode, and gives what amounts to a close textual analysis. It’s really rather wonderful (though probably less appealing to those who aren’t West Wing fans).

If you’re following and enjoying the World Cup, I recommend the Guardian’s World Cup Football Daily. Unsurprisingly, given its name, there’s a new episode every day, and it simply takes a look at the football action of the day. There’s a lot of technical talk about the games; tactics, players and statistics are all discussed, but as it’s a Guardian production, they aim go a little deeper, and they have erudite correspondents who really know what they are talking about. Definitely recommended for anyone who’s following the football.

Finally, for all you true crime fans, I’ve just started listening to an Australian podcast called The Teacher’s Pet, about Lyn Dawson, a woman who went missing in 1982. It’s widely believed that she was murdered, and two coronial inquests have found that her death was caused by her husband, though there’s no body, and the police don’t seem to have investigated too thoroughly in the early days of her disappearance. I’m only two episodes in, but like all great true crime podcasts, it appears to be well-produced, well-researched, and draws you in from the get-go.



Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year
iTunes | acast

The West Wing Weekly
iTunes | acast

World Cup Football Daily
iTunes | acast

The Teacher’s Pet
iTunes | acast

Photo by LUM3N on Unsplash

Getting Lost in The West Wing

I love television. I used to be embarrassed about how much I enjoy watching television, but as I’ve got older, I’ve realised that I don’t care what other people think of me quite so much (I still do care a lot in some respects, but that’s another post for another day). If people think it’s sad that I enjoy sitting at home, more often than not on my own, watching an episode of my favourite television show, then so be it. I’m happy!

If you are a relatively new reader of Is That You Darling, you’ll realise, in the next couple of months, how excited I get about new television. The autumn, in the US especially, and here to  lesser extent, is the time for a television nerd like me. Not only do all my old favourites return with new episodes, there’s a slew of new shows to wonder about. New television is terribly exciting.

But as much as I long for new episodes of The Mindy Project and NCIS, I am a massive re-watcher too. I honestly believe that a lot of the time, I enjoy something more if I am watching it for a second time, rather than the first. And it turns out that I am not actually alone in this; there is research that suggests that watching repeats of our favourite television shows can actually boost happiness and make us feel more in control.

Now I’m not saying that watching something for the first time isn’t exhilarating; anyone who watched that episode of Game of Thrones a few weeks back will attest to that. But I know that at some point in the future, I will watch that episode again, and I know too that I will enjoy it even more the second time, knowing what’s coming (I mean, technically I knew what was coming the first time, as I’ve read the books, but you know what I mean).

My favourite television show of all time is The West Wing, a fact that should be clear to anyone who has spoken to me for more than about half an hour. At the moment, I’m in the middle of one of my big rewatches. I am watching at least one episode an evening, before I go to sleep, and without sounding like a total loser, it’s a bit like spending 45 minutes with a group of people I know very, very well, each day. When I don’t get the chance to see the real life people I know very often, I honestly believe it’s a good thing. And if you don’t believe me, ask yourself how often you find yourself watching Friends on Comedy Central, even though you’ve seen each and every episode at least ten times! It’s like pulling on the oldest, comfiest jumper you own.

~ source ~

I’m also currently watching Lost. I finished watching it for the first time last month, and I went right back to the beginning and started again. Again, I am sure that people will honestly think that I am the world’s biggest loser, but I’m happy. I am now watching it with the eye of someone who knows how it all turns out, and I am also reading along with some of the analysis as I watch each episode. And I’m enjoying seeing all of my favourite Lost men in action.

For all this love of a re-watch, I have to say that it can be disappointing to find that the television schedules are full of repeats. I use box sets and the internet to watch my favourite shows for the second, third and fourth (and beyond) time, but when I settle down with my Christmas Radio Times, I want to see new episodes of my favourite shows, not the Christmas special from three years ago. Except for the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special. I’ll be writing a stern letter if the BBC stop repeating that one; it’s become as much a part of my Christmas routine as carols on Christmas Eve and Quality Street on Boxing Day.

What is your favourite series to re-watch?


Right now, I am mostly…

Reading : I am on a bit of a Young Adult kick at the moment. Summer just seems the right sort of time to read books about teenage girls falling in love. Especially if they are set at the beach (I got a lot of inspiration from this post by Kerri-Ann at Hello Giggles).

Watching : I am never able to let too long elapse without reverting back to what I know and love the best. So right now, as I write this, I’m watching Season 2 of The West Wing.

Laughing : At my dad. Today I got a phone call from him to say that he was stuck in a tree in the front garden, and could I come and move the ladder back into position so he could get down. I put it on Facebook (naturally), and my siblings were all a) jealous they missed it and b) hoping that I had taken a photo (I hadn’t).

Baking : Today I baked a belated birthday cake for my friend John, with Anna and Jen’s help. John is Jen’s other half, but she’s not much of a baker, so Anna and I provided moral support. As I said on Instagram, it wasn’t the most sophisticated cake ever, but it was tasty, and John (quite the cake aficionado, and a professional chef) ate three slices. Also, for some reason, I promised cake to my book group to celebrate a few birthdays since we last met. I’ve now got to come up with something to make!


Playing : With my nieces. They came to see my dad for Father’s Day and I haven’t seen them for ages, so I took the opportunity to snap some photos. The best way to get them to pose with me is to say “Let’s pull funny faces.” Otherwise they protest.

Inspiration ~ BEDM

I can’t believe I’m so close to the end of BEDM! Today is the last real prompt as tomorrow is more of a summary of the month, so today is the last day that I am going to really struggle (because struggle I did) with what to write.

The prompt for today is Who Inspires You? I contemplated writing a similar post back in March, on International Women’s Day, but I found it really hard. Apart from the obvious answer of my mum, I couldn’t think of anyone else that particularly inspires me. So today, I’m going with a few fictional characters that I look admire.

~ source ~

I’ve gone on and on about my love for Mindy Kaling, but for now I’m going to talk about my love for her character on The Mindy Project, Mindy Lahiri. She’s a successful gynaecologist, respected by her colleagues, she’s not always lucky in love but she always stays true to who she is, and isn’t willing to settle for any man who is not worthy. She knows that she should do more exercise, but she’s healthy (she “fluctuates between chubby and curvy”, dontcha know?), and she’s definitely someone to look up to. I adore her.

~ source ~

So of course, it’s probably a bit of a cliché to profess love for Lizzie Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, but I don’t care. There’s a reason why she is so beloved, and that’s because she is awesome. She is spirited and independent at a time when women were expected to be anything but. She won’t marry Darcy when he first asks, because, well frankly, he’s a bit of an arse. She doesn’t take any crap from Lady Catherine, who is one of the most frustratingly irritating characters in all of Austen. She’s wonderful.

~ source ~

If I can shoehorn a West Wing reference into a blog post, believe me, I will. I’m not going to get into a discussion here about Sorkin and women, that’s for another time and place. Here, I want to say that CJ Cregg is a force to be reckoned with, a woman who climbs to the top of her profession by being capable and kind and wonderful. She is funny, she is clever and she is clumsy. She is attractive and tall. And I still want to be her when I grow up.