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Best and Worst of 2018

 
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These are my best and worst books, films, television programmes, sport and videos of 2018. Plus there’s an update and some other miscellany of the year.

 

BOOKS

Top 5 favourite audiobooks that I listened to for the first time in 2018 (I’m unable to read books due to my illness so I have to listen to them):

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The Explorer by Katherine Rundell
I’d recommend this book to everyone. Technically it would be labelled as a book for older children but it’s such a good read. Immersive, brilliant and beautiful.
 
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Taken on Trust by Terry Waite
I’m slightly cheating by including this one on the list because I first read some of it before I became ill. But I didn’t finish it back then and I’d forgotten a lot of it so listening to it afresh this year was a pleasure and of course it has much more significance to me now, given my situation. I think this book might now be in my top 10 books of all time.
 
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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Although Maya Angelou’s poem of the same name as this book has been my favourite poem since I was 10, I’d never actually read the book until this year. Gobbled it up.
 
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The Lone City trilogy (The Jewel, The White Rose, The Black Key) by Amy Ewing
For most of my life I’ve always said that fantasy is my favourite book genre but in recent years I’ve struggled to find any new fantasy books that I don’t get bored with and so I often don’t finish the audiobook. Dystopian YA books have replaced fantasy as my favourite genre for many years now. This trilogy is the first time I’ve enjoyed the fantasy genre in a long while (although it does have dystopian elements too). It’s not high fantasy and it’s not exactly going to win any awards for literary merit but the trilogy was very enjoyable. I didn’t get bored once!
 
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II Script
I’m only including this because I’d been waiting to read this for so long and, given that I’m a big Harry Potter fan, I was so frustrated that the play had been inaccessible to me because it isn’t available on audiobook. It still technically isn’t available but my older brother found a recording of it for me. I was so excited! I’d managed somehow to avoid all spoilers, so thank you to everyone who kept schtum. Stop reading now if you want to avoid any spoilers! So what did I think of it? At the end I was sort of left thinking “is that it?”. I was simultaneously both relieved and disappointed that nobody big died. When the original Harry Potter books were still coming out, part of the fun and anticipation/excited-dread was guessing which major character was going to die in the next book. I’m very relieved that Hermione wasn’t killed though (well, in the real timeline).
As a whole, the play was nowhere near as good, satisfying or well-plotted as a JKRowling-written Potter book but I guess it has to be seen in the theatre to appreciate it at its best for what it is.
I found Albus annoying. And Hermione would have been a far better Minister for Magic than what was depicted but I’m glad she was the Minister for Magic, like I always said she should be. She would never have hidden the time turner with such a simple riddle though; she’d have made it much harder. It’s a shame we didn’t get to know what had happened to more characters too (Hagrid, Luna, the rest of the Weasleys etc). I especially wanted to know how George was faring without Fred because, even though it’s fiction, I worry about him! I was pleased that Neville ended up a teacher at Hogwarts though as that’s what I always said thought he would be. I think that Hermione and Harry especially would have been at a much higher skill-level of magic than they were shown as in the play and most of their spells would have been nonverbal by that point, especially Hermione, but that wouldn’t have worked on stage, I guess. Overall, I found it fun but a bit insubstantial and anticlimactic. And I was more insterested in the old characters than their children. I might just stick with my head canon.

 
FILMS

Last year was such a bumper year for films that I really loved (see last year’s list of favourites here). In general, this year’s crop hasn’t been as great but here are my favourites out of them.

Best 10 films that I saw for the first time in 2018:

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – this was my favourite film of the year

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Black Panther [This comment is irrelevant to the film but it amuses me that the sign that they make with their arms crossed over their chest when they say ‘Wakanda Forever’ is the same sign that I use when I’m signalling to Mum that I’m locked in and unable to move my hands to signal/sign to her more and unable to point at letters on my alphabet card to spell words out. Very different meanings!]

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Dumplin’

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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

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Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi – after not liking The Force Awakens so much, it was great that this film was much better.

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The Greatest Showman – I’ve still got the songs stuck in my head!

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The Princess Switch – DON’T JUDGE ME. THIS FILM IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED.

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Kubo and the Two Strings

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Swimming with Men – charming little film. Worth it for the joyous, feel-good ending.

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The Post
 
Honourable mentions:

Justice League, Home Again, I Feel Pretty, Incredibles 2, Paddington 2, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Skyscraper, A Quiet Place, Rip Tide, Ocean’s 8, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, The Baby Sitters Club, Avengers Infinity War

The most disappointing films that I saw for the first time in 2018:
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Thor: Ragnarok
I loved the first two Thor films (Thor is my fave Avenger; well, him and the Cap) but this film almost felt like a spoof of a Thor film. It was way too meta and there wasn’t a good flow to the story; it felt bitty, fitful and cluttered, more similar in feel and humour to the Guardians of the Galaxy films, which I don’t enjoy quite as much as the other superhero films.
I was a bit thrown by Jane Foster, Erik and Darcy not being in the film. Without them, the film didn’t feel grounded and it felt disconnected from Earth. I also didn’t like the random, dismissive one line explanation of Jane’s absence (apparently she and Thor broke up), especially since Thor’s mother saw their love and died to save Jane’s life in the previous film.
The quick and offhand killing off of all Thor’s closest friends was weird. They deserved better. And where on earth was Sif? No explanation as to where she was.
Thor himself seemed to have had a personality transplant from the previous films, almost a completely different person. It was disorientating.
Potentially the idea of Hela could have been interesting but she turned out to be a rather one-dimensional villain.
Plus there seemed to be a case of ‘how many famous people can we get to cameo or star in our film’. I mean…Matt Damon…whaaa? It just got ridiculous. The Benedict Cumberbatch (as wonderful as he is) part felt superfluous too.
Genuinely would like to know the reasons why you all were raving about the film, other than ‘there were some funny lines’ and ‘Jeff Goldblum’.
I did enjoy the Thor-Loki interactions though. Their relationship was always at the heart of things. So I enjoyed those bits.
Overall, I’m glad I saw it but it just wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be, which is why it’s on this list. Disappointing. Why did you all like it so much?
 
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Ready Player One
Terrible adaptation of an enjoyable book.
 
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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
[SPOILER WARNING] This is only on this list because I was looking forward to it and it wasn’t what I was expecting or wanting at all. I was really disappointed with what they did to it. People watch Mamma Mia to cheer themselves up, not to be sad and depressed. I HATED that they killed off Donna. Why why WHY. It was too sad for what I was hoping to be a happy viewing experience that would lift my spirits. Was Meryl Streep just not available for most of the filming or something? Otherwise why WHY would they get rid of the main (and most charismatic) character (young Donna doesn’t count; it’s not the same). Realism is not something you’re looking for in a Mamma Mia film. Just give us happy endings for goodness sake!

The worst film that I saw in 2018:

20th Century Women

Films that I’m most looking forward to seeing in 2019:

The Crimes of Grindlewald
A Star is Born
Bohemian Rhapsody
Mary Poppins Returns
Aquaman
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Captain Marvel
Avengers Endgame
Toy Story 4
The Lego Movie 2
Aladdin
Isn’t it Romantic
What Men Want
The Lion King
Dark Phoenix
Shazam!
Dumbo
Wonder Woman 1984
Frozen 2
Star Wars Episode IX
Little Women

 

TELEVISION

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Best of the TV that I saw for the first time in 2018:

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Lost in Space (the new 2018 version)
Alexa & Katie
Brothers and Sisters
Scandal
Vanity Fair
The Circle

Best TV that I continued to watch new seasons of in 2018:

The Good Fight
Madam Secretary
Masterchef Australia
Elementary
Michael McIntyre’s Big Show
Hunted
Star Trek Discovery
Would I Lie To You
Richard Osman’s House of Games
The Graham Norton Show
Agents of SHIELD
Sense8
The Big Bang Theory
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
University Challenge
Home and Away
The Handmaid’s Tale

Most disappointing TV that I saw in 2018:
 
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Doctor Who – apart from two exceptional episodes (‘Rosa’ and ‘Demons of the Punjab’), this series has been poor. ‘Kerblam!’ was fun but the rest of the episodes were pretty dire. It was the first time that I’d ever been bored watching Doctor Who. Sad times.
I was really looking forward to a female Doctor but I think she’s been let down a bit by the showrunner. I also don’t like that they’re treating her differently to male Doctors; she seems to spend a lot of the time, more so than previous doctors, not having a clue what’s going on. Plus she keeps saying things like “I’m not sure who I am myself yet” (during the period of getting to know a new Doctor, there will always be an element of this, but hers seems to have lasted longer than previous Doctors) and she seems to be taking a lot longer than male Doctors to get used to the new Tardis controls. This all rubs me up the wrong way and along with her character not seeming as clever as previous Doctors (they seem to have made Jodie more of an action hero than a cerebral, intellectually brilliant character), and not being as commanding/authoritative as previous Doctors, it all feels a bit sexist. But I’m hoping for the best as she has the potential to develop into a great Doctor once the writers find their feet with her…hopefully.

Best TV documentary of 2018:

Burma with Simon Reeve

 
SPORT

My favourite Sporting Events of 2018 that I thoroughly enjoyed:

The World Cup – what a World Cup it was! My favourite matches were probably England v Colombia, Spain v Portugal, France v Argentina, Belgium v Japan and England v Panama.

The Commonwealth Games

Gymnastics World Championships

 

VIDEOS

These are some short videos/clips that I’ve seen on Twitter this year that made me smile. I hope that they make you smile too.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

 
OTHER STUFF

It’s been the year of the fun t-shirt for me and it amuses me to wait and see if any doctors, nurses, ambulance crew or radiographers comment on them. Here are a few:
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I got some more tops for Christmas that I look forward to wearing in the year to come:

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Things I’m most proud of doing in 2018

* Doing the impossible every day. Somehow surviving with only 2 hours out of 24 hours with my head down on my pillow. FOR A WHOLE YEAR NOW. Working and working so hard that my whole body shakes with the exertion of holding my whole body in difficult and strained positions that very gradually return a bit of blood to my head and neck over 22 hours (if you’ve read my blog posts this year, you’ll know what I’m talking about), in order to stay alive and in order to get vaguely enough blood back to go down safely on the pillow for 2 hours of the day.

* The wonderful Tanya Marlow published some of my thoughts on God and suffering that she thought might be helpful to others and put them into an interview format on her blog. This meant a lot to me and made me feel like I was maybe helping some people too. You can find it here if you would like to read it: http://tanyamarlow.com/jenny-rowbory-suffering/

* I launched the ‘Five By Five’ challenge to raise money for M.E. research and vEDS. Thank you to everyone who participated. If you didn’t quite get around to making a video or said that you would do one and then forgot about it, there’s still time if you want to make me happy. The #FiveByFive challenge is this: video yourself declaring your top 5 favourite things in 5 different categories (books, films, TV shows, sports & songs). Share your video then donate here https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/fivebyfive to raise funds for vital medical research. Nominate 5 others to do it too. Here’s my video explaining the whole things and declaring my own favourites:

 
Happiest moment of 2018:
I SAW MY NEPHEWS YESTERDAY. Felix for the first time ever and Caspian for the first time since he was a baby. I can’t tell you how happy this made me. Destroyed but happy. I’ll hang on to those memories to keep me going.

 
Worst things of 2018:

Where to start? I’m not going to bore you by repeating myself; you can read about what I’ve been going through this year in my other blog posts. Every day I don’t know how to keep going and everything continues to deteriorate but I somehow have to find the strength to carry on. It’s getting harder.

* I lost count of the number of ambulance journeys this year; I think it’s probably thirty something trips. Just one ambulance trip would have made me deteriorate, let alone this amount. It’s been a gruelling process of finding out little bits of new information from different doctors/medical professionals with different specialities and trying to piece it all together myself because there’s nobody who has knowledge of all the different medical disciplines involved and nobody who has heard of this particular thing I’m experiencing. It’s been hard being this ill and still having to figure it all out by myself and trying to find solutions. Scans showed that the blood pathways in my head are much altered; the cervical veins have a very abnormally large circumference. Nobody can tell me why this is happening but they think it’s my body trying to compensate for something very wrong. We’re hoping that it’s all being caused by the atlas bone (at the top of your spine/base of your skull), which scans show is abnormally rotated upwards and to the left. The trouble is that everyone has different ideas about how to correct the atlas. There’s the horrific option of surgery, which in my condition is likely to be extremely dangerous, and nobody can tell me for sure whether it would definitely fix the problem with the blood flow, so I’m exhausting all other options first before I even consider it. In November I went to a special chiropractor for Atlas Orthogonal adjustment, which did move the atlas slightly (but didn’t correct it completely or make it straight) but it barely made any difference at all to getting blood back in my head, though it did stop the torticollis. I was told that it takes a while for blood pathways to change after the adjustment so I was still hopeful but the adjustment sadly hasn’t held (it clunked out of position in the early hours of Christmas morning when I twisted my head too far one way while I was working on my head in the extreme positions that I have to hold to bring even a small amount of blood back) but I don’t think it was making much difference anyway. When I continued to deteriorate and become physically weaker after the adjustment (because of the trip there and the exhaustion from a whole year of 22 hours a day of physical exertion of holding my head and neck in difficult positions and from not being able to lie flat like I need to be and not being able to touch my head and neck to anything, including my pillow), we decided to follow another lead. The chiropractor had shown me in my x-rays that my jaw was very misaligned and rotated and mentioned that it might be part of the problem because where the jaws go, the atlas follows. So when, as a teen, I had my four teeth extracted because of overcrowding of the teeth and a brace put in to close the holes up, the jaw was pushed into an unnatural position and not allowed to grow properly. I had the jaw-moving stuff done by an orthodontist while I was at university at around the time that I became ill. So the jaws might have moved he atlas out of alignment and the rest of the spine followed (I have mild scoliosis). If this was the case then this change in the spinal column and atlantoaxial misalignment and subluxation would have wrecked my neuroimmune system and left me unable to get rid of viruses (which is when I first became suddenly ill when I caught a nasty virus in the first term university). This theory is very appealing because it potentially means that I could maybe improve somewhat if I can somehow fix the jaws and if the atlas follows suit and corrects gradually by itself. So in December, way too soon after my week spent with the specialist chiropractor that made me deteriorate from having my body being moved by an ambulance to and fro plus other things, I travelled by ambulance to London again to a dentist/orthodontist who specialises in this jaw-atlas-spine connection theory. It was pretty disappointing because he said that I would feel some difference immediately when he put the brace in but so far nothing has happened and it’s been a few weeks of having the brace on. The brace has also moved my teeth/jaw so that not a single one of my teeth fit together anymore so when I take the brace out to eat, it’s very difficult and painful to chew. Also, when I take the brace out now, not long afterwards I start gasping for breath so I have to try to wolf down soft food quickly in order to put the brace back on as soon as possible. Maybe it has to get worse before it gets better? I don’t know. I have to go back to him in early January to see what’s going wrong, which, if it doesn’t help, will absolutely physically wreck me again. It might be trial and error. I really hope this theory is correct but I just don’t know.

* Moving house (another ambulance) early in the year.

* A pneumatic drill and roadworks outside our new house for weeks when we first got here so we had to move to temporary accommodation (more ambulances!) because the noise was agony and destroying me.

* More gaslighting, trauma, disbelief and abuse from doctors and nurses

* Hospital stays and all that they entail

* New scary diagnoses: AAI and CCI

 
BLOG

Blog posts that I’ve written in 2018:

You (yes, you) need to read what I have to say about the plastic straw ban

Let me tell you a bit about my parents…

The launch of my ‘Five by Five’ challenge and how I managed to do it

A Lot Has Happened

Update on October’s hospital visit and current health

 

How has your year been? I love hearing your news and how you are. What were your favourite and least favourite things (films, TV, books etc.) of 2018? Let me know.
 
[As an aside, please don’t contact me via Facebook Messenger; I don’t have Facebook Messenger and since about April, the normal facebook app no longer lets me see messages that were sent to me via messenger. So if you’ve sent me a private message since then, I haven’t seen it I’m afraid.]

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