Well, is it? The simple answer is not on everything. It’s never a good idea to have favourite children, for example.
The Bible story of Joseph who, in his early years irritated every member of his family by constantly boasting about dreams that showed him as being above everybody else, even the father who indulged him, shows that up well!
I’ve always understood why his brothers loathed him… well you would when having to handle that constant boasting, wouldn’t you? I went to see Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat years ago at the Mayflower Theatre and loved it.
Disadvantages to Having Favourites
One disadvantage to having any favourites is it could prevent you being open enough to recognise when something better comes along. Equally it could restrict your view of the world in terms of not appreciating other forms of cuisine, literature, music etc.
The other danger of having favourites is it leading to you being wrapped in a fog of nostalgia. Nostalgia has its place but there are good things about life as it is now (despite everything going on in the political world!). There have been wonderful technological developments and better ways of treating diseases etc. There is more awareness of the need to take better care of this planet.
I’m sure you can think of plenty of other ways where life now should be cherished. (And yes not everything in the garden is lovely but, regardless of what era you think of, that has always been true).
Having A Wide Range of Favourites
But having a wide range of favourites is a good thing, I think. It shows an appreciation for different things in life. You wouldn’t want to be confined to one category in life after all.
So the ideal then is yes, cherish your favourites, but be open to developing others. Nobody says you can only have so many after all.
Favourites In Writing and Reading
From a writing viewpoint, I sometimes give my characters favourite things. I use that as a shortcut to show a reader something of what my people are made of. If I have a character who is fond of posh biscuits and another who adores the cheapest Rich Tea they can get, you will already form mental pictures of these people. It’s also a classic example of showing and not telling. I’ve given the pertinent information, you make the connections and work things out about the characters based on those connections.
Naturally, I have favourite characters, both those I’ve created, and those from well-loved books and stories by others. But I’m always pleased to come across new favourite characters. When I first read P.G. Wodehouse I adored Jeeves and Wooster (and still do) but when I read PGW’s other series, especially the Blandings stories, I quickly adopted Clarence, Ninth Earl of Emsworth as a new favourite and then I discovered the joys of Uncle Fred, Fifth Earl of Ickenham. He is a mischievous old soul and I have a very soft spot for them in fiction.
The great joy with books especially is you really can have as many favourites as you can manage. What I would encourage developing is the range of favourites as expanding that will mean you would have increased your reading range too.
My favourite tragic character? Hmm… difficult but probably Richard III as portrayed in Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. (Incidentally regardless of whether you believe him guilty or not of the murder of the Princes in the Tower, assuming they were murdered, the way Richard met his death was tragic and what happened to his body caused critical comment at the time, which given the brutality of that era says something).
Food, Drink, and Memories
Food and drink wise, I don’t think you can beat a decent cup of tea. As well as classic British fare, I love risotto, lasagne and a wide range of foods that just weren’t in the country at all back in the 1970s, my formative years. I can remember back then that a Vesta curry and Dream Topping were seen as exotic.
There is a wonderful scene in one of the Only Fools and Horses episodes that relates to this and I totally identify with it. I also recall the first time my late mum used spray cream in a can! Oh the technological marvel of that!! (For younger readers, it really was at the time).
Favourite memories – well, there should be plenty of those, I think. It’s important to cherish those. Photos can only show so much and they are useful for that but there is something intensely personal about memories. What we cherish here will say much about our own characters.
I love photography but have welcomed the transition to digital. No more worrying about running out of film! No more waiting for your pictures to come back from being developed (and that reminds me of the old gag “Why was Cinderella at the chemists? She was waiting for her prints to come”. That gag I’m sure will bring back memories for many of you, if only at groaning out loud the first time you heard it, as I did!).
Queen Elizabeth Tudor
Another one for favourites was Queen Elizabeth Tudor. Over a 44 year reign, she had plenty of them! If you were in her inner circle, she granted a nickname. William, Lord Burghley was her “spirit” and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester was her “eyes” to name two examples. Incidentally, I believe Burghley really should be considered the first Prime Minister, not Robert Walpole. Yes, I know Burghley only had the title of “Chief Minister” but the role he carried out in Elizabeth’s reign was clearly heading towards the role of Prime Minister as we know it now.
Music and the Arts
Another good area to have favourites, for me, is music (everything from classical to rock for me, though these days I tend to focus on the former. Someone drove past my house over the weekend blasting out rock music for all to hear, whether they wanted to or not, and I so wanted to retaliate by blasting out the 1812 Overture. Naughty of me? Perhaps. Understandable? Totally!). Mind you, The Sound of Music had its own ideas about favourite things…
Then there are the arts. Nobody only ever likes one art form do they? You would miss out on so much if you did. I love a nice landscape. Abstract art is not for me though I can appreciate the work that has gone into it. I admire a good sculpture when I see them (I once saw a stunning Damien Hirst sculpture at Bath Abbey and the more I looked at it, the more I appreciated the detail in it), but I prefer paintings as an art form. I remain convinced there is an art form for everyone. It’s a question of discovering what you like and that should be fun.
Overall, I think having favourite virtues is a good thing. What is there not to like about kindness, patience, generosity and so on?
Of course the challenge there is not just to admire these things but develop them yourself. Patience is the hardest one I think, especially if you’ve just been cut up by another driver on a roundabout or a careless trolley wielder in the supermarket. Mind you, that may be when your favourite swear words come into play even if you do keep them to yourself!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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