Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Christmas giveaway [closed]

Sunday, 13 December 2009


Right. I have ordered a turkey, bought new Christmas lights and made my first batch of mince pies; I think it must be time for a little festive competition. Free Christmas presents from my yuletide site!

  Regular visitors might remember that I wrote a book this year. I believe I mentioned it. I confidently hope that it’s on all your Christmas lists, and that you’ll be buying several copies as Christmas presents for your treasured friends and relatives - I think it’s quite a good book (you can read the reviews via the link above) and even if it isn’t, it would be a nice thing to unwrap because it’s got a lovely shiny red and gold cover, terribly Christmassy.

  The book has a soundtrack. There’s an early chapter about the tape I listen to when travelling to poker competitions - in my ambitious head, the songs there tell the whole story of this memoir in miniature - and they creep back as chapter titles later, for anyone who cares to notice. At the book launch, we gave away copies of this soundtrack (the songs in the book, plus a few more because I didn’t list them all). I’ve got ten copies of the soundtrack on CD to give away in this competition - plus, for the first five winners, a copy of the Australian edition of the book, which has a different cover that I think is very sweet and funny.

  Because I really want the soundtrack to go to people who have read the book, there are two questions: the first is to inspire your creative thinking and help us choose a winner (you’ll have to do it in a single paragraph, due to space restraints on the comments, so keep it brilliant and pithy); the second requires you to check something in your copy (or at least nip into a bookshop, look something up, and make an enormous fuss if they don’t have any copies in stock). If you’ve asked for this book for Christmas and don’t want to spoil it by checking inside in advance, you’ll have to skip this competition, but post on here in January if you get the gift of your dreams and if there’s demand I’ll run another one.

QUESTION ONE: If you could pick only one song or piece of music to make up the soundtrack of your life, what would it be and why?

QUESTION TWO: Which two songs does Devilfish sing in chapter nine?

Obviously we won’t post the answer to question 2 if you send it in, that would make life a bit too easy. Please answer both questions if you want to have a go (you need both for a win), but we’ll only put up the answers to question 1.
  We will try and get these prizes out to you in time for Christmas - no guarantees, postal delays etc - but the competition will close at lunchtime on Wednesday 16th December, in the hope of getting them posted, first class, in time to make it. Be sure to use your real email address when posting, so we can contact you for a delivery address if you win. (Your email address will not appear on the site.)

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Daz at 12:00 pm on December 13th, 2009

Q1 Answer: Six possible things to believe after breakfast having listened to the soundtrack of my life: Di Anfinished Revalueshan by Linton Kwesi Johnson:-

..Life’s an unfinished revolution, though we reach far down freedom street be mindful of the minefields on the way

..Freedom is not an ideology, freedom is a human necessity

..We got enough work to do

..We can still reach mount Zion

..We can still build a new Jerusalem

..Time can steal but it can heal

Q2 Answer: ****** and ******

Addster at 1:10 pm on December 13th, 2009

1. If I learnt one thing at uni it was to always try to weasel out of the question… Is it asking for our all-time fave song? A track we could never tire of hearing? The musical number best encapsulating our earthly existence? Some combination of those three? Or maybe a tune that makes up for what we lack most? In that case, “Marathon” by Rush (off the 1985 album “Power Windows”). So uplifting - and God knows I need that on a daily basis.

2. Couldn’t remember this but knew at least one of them was by Elvis. My copy of “F/R/F/P” was at my mum’s place (three hours away), so I had to phone her, interrupting something called the Alexander Technique, and ask her to please look up the relevant section for me. Answer: “******” and “*******”. Ta, Ma.

Pete at 2:55 pm on December 13th, 2009

Q1. There has been one song, that has followed me around like a lonely puppy all these years - Dougie MacLean’s Caledonia.

Would take too long and be too personal to explain why its lyrics resonanate so much with me, but suffice to say it was a salve during the far too many bad times, and a anthem of victory during the infrequent good ones.

Q2. **** and ****

Andrew at 4:55 pm on December 13th, 2009

That would be Saturday Boy by Billy Bragg because it also took me a dictionary to find out the meaning of unrequited.

And the songs would be ***** and *****.

Ian Harding at 7:19 pm on December 13th, 2009

Question 2. “*****” and “******”.
Question 1. Starship’s “nothing is gonna stop us now”...It describes my determination and yet also compliments my cheesiness…lol

Sam at 6:15 am on December 14th, 2009

Question 2:  “*****” and “******” [un-moderated] (:P to moderator and Vicky, I’ve read FRFP, but I always give away my books after I read them as I feel like my books get really sad when they only get read by one person and I take the emotional wellfare on my books seriously)

Question 1: In light of my above answer, probably Life Is a Pigsty, by Morrissey. Frankly when your altruistic nature (I really give away my books because I know quite a few people who are hard up and can’t really afford to be spending money on literature…that, and to prevent book depression) prevents you from winning competitons, you know your life is a bit of a pigsty.

Jules at 9:55 am on December 14th, 2009

Q1: “Always Look On The Bright Side Of life” by Eric Idle because of its merry melody, witty lyrics and fun memories it brings back. I love to imagine it sung by a bunch of friends at the open bar after my funerals (the later the better ;).
Q2: ******* and *******

John at 12:12 pm on December 14th, 2009

1.  ‘Some girls are bigger than others’  The Smiths.
    Well, they just are, aren’t they.

2.  If you send me a copy of your book, I will forward the answers.  Isn’t that what Fair Trade’s all about?

RomanticRecluse at 1:30 pm on December 14th, 2009

1. It has to be a grim bitter song by argumentative Northerners.  There are lots to choose from (This Is How It Feels, Sheep, I Predict A Riot, Cars And Girls, Holding Back The Years, Crippled Inside, Pulp’s The Fear or A Little Soul, JD’s Isolation or Heart & Soul or lots of Smiths songs).  I’ve chosen Regret by New Order as it mixes bitterness and sweetness, hatred and love and fear and the hope of leaving the past behind.  I’d say it’s a false hope but I’m a grim…

2. Devilfish sang **** and ****

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


David Sparks at 2:01 pm on December 14th, 2009

Q1 – Gary Glitter – Do you Wanna be in my Gang, My Gang, My Gang, Do you Wanna be in my Gang, Oh YEEEAH Eh Eh: being taken to his concert as a young boy by my Mum, I always look back with a sense of relief that I wasn’t enrolled in his fan club as I’d requested.

Q2 - ****** and *******

Nat at 8:11 pm on December 14th, 2009

I’m not entering the competition - I’m actually reading your book at the moment, and wanted to comment and say how much I’m enjoying it.
I’m a journalist myself, and a sucker for hack memoirs - I bought yours after discovering your Observer column - but it’s very refreshing to read something that’s not about copious amounts of booze and freebies. It’s so beautifully written too, and a delight to carry around with me, lovely cover. I hope you sell many, many more copies.

steve thorne at 11:32 pm on December 14th, 2009

Q1 gold dust woman by fleetwood mac   it just haunts me and reminds me of good times in my life

Q2 ***** and *****

Good book Vickie,  really liked reading it thanks

MarkP at 11:34 pm on December 14th, 2009

1.  The first group I really loved and then saved and spent my pocket money on were Slade. And I’ve always loved ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’ (I hope the spelling doesn’t count against me). Slade are the epitome of the West Midlands. Loud: from the red brick Victorian buildings to the flying saucers on Selfridges we don’t do subtle. A driving beat: driving (we don’t do walking), the only place where you jump on the motorway to go one junction because it’s a short cut. A group that puts a smile on your face: Midlanders don’t like criticism from ‘outsiders’ but when you’ve been accepted by them you will struggle to find a happier, friendlier and kinder bunch of people anywhere. 

2.  The songs are ‘*****’ and ‘*****’

Clare Hill (Spanna) at 11:56 pm on December 14th, 2009

Hi Victoria,
Question One - I suppose it has to be That’s Life by Frank Sinatra. Why? because before I even understood what the lyrics meant I loved the sound of the guy’s voice, what a man. A great character and encompasses everything that was magical about the golden age in Vegas. Also something I try to sing to myself when my aces get cracked.

Question 2 - Devil Fish sang ***** and *****

Steve I at 12:36 am on December 15th, 2009

Q1. In 1986 when we got married we danced to this record. Two nurses, we met in the early 80’s and, living in cheap nursing accommodation, had a fair bit of disposable income and spent a few years in party mode only to sober up one day, to find we were married and had two girls. The song at the wedding had us in a nutshell. ‘Well we know where we’re going, but we don’t know where we’ve been; and we know what we’re knowing but we can’t say what we’ve seen…” - Road to Nowhere - Talking Heads. Still a darnn good tune imo.

Btw still on the road and one day we might get there.

Q2. ***** & *****

Ian at 3:25 pm on December 15th, 2009

Led Zepplin - Since I’ve Been Loving You, given that the last relationship cost me a lot of money!!!

As for the 2nd part having seen Devilfish ‘singing’ on youtube I can only determine that he didn’t sing any songs but in fact killed them stone dead…..

AdamML at 3:52 pm on December 15th, 2009

1. I’ve thought about this quite a bit when listening to the ‘Inheritance Tracks’ on BBC R4’s Saturday Live. On that slot you inherit a track from your parents, and leave one for the next (in my case hypothetical) generation. I love listening to the Blues, and I guess I came to it from listening to early Dylan with my Dad, so from him I’d inherit one of the song stories, a long rambling one you can talk about later like poetry - Visions of Johanna. I’d leave behind one of Alan Lomax’s raw field recordings, maybe a Bessie Smith. But because it reminds of of good times with my Dad, Visions… would be the one to choose if you put a gun to my head.

2. ****  and ****

Wayne at 4:18 pm on December 15th, 2009

1) As a typical northerner i was going to pick something upbeat and hopeful like - The Smihs “heaven knows i’m miserable now” or radioheads classic “Creep” bu in the end i decided on a classic of a different kind -
The Ace of Spades by Motorhead
not only a great song but fantastic lyrics also

2) the two songs are of course ******* and ******

Jamie N at 7:32 pm on December 15th, 2009

Q1 – House Of The Rising Sun (The Animals version) because the fatalism of the song appeals to me. And it contributes to the bloody awesome end of Casino.

Q2 –**** and ****

I also really enjoyed reading the book. In fact, out of everyone who has read it, i’d argue I am among the top 10 people who have liked it the most…...

David Webb at 7:57 pm on December 15th, 2009

I have chosen ‘The Corsairs of Ottomania’ by Luther Vandross as the soundtrack to my life, because I firmly believe that I am the reincarnation of Hayreddin Barbarossa.
Let’s examine the evidence: Old Barb’s was born on the island of Lesbos. I wasn’t born there, but if I had the choice, it would certainly be very high up on my list.
The big B had 4 brothers - I have a brother. He’s a policeman who lives in Kent with his girlfriend.
Hayreddin was a Fleet Admiral of the Ottoman Navy. I can’t claim to be that, but I was told that I “showed potential” and “could possibly be allowed on the water unaccompanied” by the Lyme Regis young seafarers club.
Finally; The Corsairs were renegades. This is exactly what Mr Eastgate at 66 Chestnut Road shouts at me when I ‘forget’ to close his gate. Oh yes, I’m a bad boy pirate postperson, and you’d better believe it baby.
(what in God’s name is a paragraph?)

Sincere apologies - I haven’t bought a copy of your book yet, as my policeman brother promised me he would find the time (in between beating up black people of course) to buy me one for Christmas.

Christian at 8:23 pm on December 15th, 2009

Hey Vicky, 
I hope this competition ist also open to German follower ;-)
Q1: The soundtrack of my life would be: Silbermond - Zeit für Optimisten. This song criticises pessimism and tells us to be more optimistic/ think positive. In my opinion this is a really good attitude towards life! 
Q2: Devilfish sang “*****” and “*****” 

Merry Christmas!/ Frohe Weihnachten!

Colm at 8:24 pm on December 15th, 2009

‘Barely Losing’ by Richmond Fontaine

A couple escape to the casinos of Nevada on a 3 day vacation.
Though it’s clearly just a temporary escape, they squeeze every moment from the trip ‘wishing it could always be like this’
After all, though they may be losing, they’re just ‘barely losing’.
Lives of quiet desperation have rarely been expressed with such spare eloquence and tender beauty.

Ps, Devilfish sings ‘•••••’ and ‘•••••’

Happy Christmas!!

Ian at 10:39 pm on December 15th, 2009

Q1: ‘I’m Still Standing’ by Elton John - it was summer of ‘83, I was 16 and had unexpectedly screwed up my ‘O’ levels but just scraped thru to do ‘A’ levels. This song inspired me against a background of a lack of sympathy from family and has always come to mind ever since when things don’t turn out as expected.  I’m still standing, right?

Q2: ‘***** and ‘*****’

Alan Glaum at 10:50 pm on December 15th, 2009

2 ******* and ******

1 A single soundtrack track has to go right back to childhood, So it has to be from my late dad’s favourite album from the Carpenters. As a half-empty man the track has to be “Rainy Days and Mondays”,  and I will still “run to those who love me” for Christmas and at other times.

Lindsey at 11:24 pm on December 15th, 2009

Q1: I was going to say something by The Smiths, but then for some reason I remembered you writing at some point AGES ago in your column that you don’t like them.

Then I thought I should just press the shuffle button on my mp3 player, but that threw up something inappropriate so it went back to plan A.

I will choose “Ask” by The Smiths as the soundtrack to my dreadfully young life (i’m 19) and that’s just because of a far too appropriate opening lyric.
“Shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to.” Because I wasted a large chunk of my teenage years doing exactly that. I like to think that’s waning now as well, which is good.

Q2: “*****” and “*****”

alan sibley at 11:52 pm on December 15th, 2009

Q1 - Now this is a hard question - just the one song?.... Erm, (sometime later) after introspection and shuffling through my iPod and still not much further forward, other than to recognise that nearly all of the music i return to time and again is either a bit maudlin or clearly the work of the depressed I’m still struggling to whittle it down. Final answer: Teardrop by Massive Attack simply because I love spine chilling vocals.

Q2: **** & ****

Clyde at 11:57 pm on December 15th, 2009

1. My song would be ‘Somebody to love’ by Queen. I choose this song not because i am a raging queen (though if im honest, then i am) but because i live the tragic existence of being a virgin even though im at university and everyone else around me is having sex left, right and centre. So i just spend my days wondering ‘Can anybody find me somebody to love?’

2. ‘****’ and ‘*****’

adam bridge at 1:13 am on December 16th, 2009

what an impossible question Vicki. one song! it changes ten times a day. it would have to be something sung by Nina Simone. so i guess if really pressed i will pick “for all we know” it’s short but says it all. it satisfies my gnostic leanings and makes me think of past friends and times with a smile and a tear.
and Devilfish sang (would be a good title for a song) ***** and *****
and my book would be…....

AndytheDearler at 11:37 am on December 17th, 2009

1.  Lola, by the Kinks.  The first time I heard it I roared with laughter, thinking, ‘How can anyone possibly mistake a bloke for a bird?’ However, pride comes before a fall and I’m convinced it happened to me many years later although I left before she/he broke my spine. All in all there have been far too many quirky women in my life.  I guess I just like oddballs!

2.  Are you lonesome tonight & Sylvia’s Mother.

Oh dear, too late.

Happy Christmas!!

Victoria Coren

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