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Who's your favourite celebrity pet?
What's your favourite colour? Who are your Top Ten favourite Olympic shot-putters of the 1990s? Who's your favourite celebrity shoelace designer?
The word 'favourite' is not as positive as it sounds. It's a negative term, because, if you decide something is better than anything else, then everything else is in second place, at best. And no-one likes a loser. Choose your favourite song and you relegate all others to the bargain basement. So, the greatest record ever made, I Say A Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin, is better than Puff The Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul and Mary. Somebody once tried to convince me that The Beatles were better than The Rolling Stones. Better at what? Being The Beatles, sure. But were The Beatles better at being The Rolling Stones?
There is no better, no comparison. You like what you like.
As we approach the end of the year, we face bombardment from The Year's Best ... books (with genres: travel, fiction, crime, home decoration, ghost-written-purely-for-the-Christmas-market-celeb-biog, goat farming), films (with more genres and sub-genres: horror, teen horror, teens alone in spooky old house horror, teens alone in spooky house but one of the characters is disabled horror), bicycles (on-road, off-road, lying crying by the side of the road). List after list after meaningless list.
This year is special because we will have celebrity pet, etc., not just of the year, but the decade. Ten times the pointlessness. Paris Hilton may decide that the Top Ten colours since 1999 were pink, bright pink, pale pink ..., Barrack Obama might tell us that the greatest men of the decade were, um, mostly American, and Madonna will surely be asked by a sleb magazine her Top Ten favourite African countries to buy a child.
How much time do they spend compiling these lists? Would you stay awake at night wondering whether carrots or courgettes should be at number seven in your all-time run-down of the world's prettiest coloured vegetables? Do you neglect your work because you are struggling with whether Oasis's Wonderwall should be eighth or ninth in your Top Ten of most pretentiously obscure, clumsy lyrics.
Would you like my Top Ten of ridiculous celebrity perfume advertisements as we approach Christmas? Of course you wouldn't. Unless you are a nutter.
Oh, allright, you nutter. Last year's standing in brackets:
1 • Jennifer Lopez (1)
2 • Kylie Minogue (7)
3 • Shania Twain (2)
4 • Britney (5)
5 • Celine Dion (3)
6 • Mariah Carey (8)
7 • Gwen Stefani (6)
8 • Joan Collins (4)
9 • Nicole Kidman (9)
10 • Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen (10)
Remember, this is not a list of the best-sellers, or the best or worst, but what I think. How useless is that? And why ten? Because it's a nice round number. Don't bother to think, or choose, because a famous writer/musician/sleb has done it all for you.
Forty things you should do before you're 40? No, 40 things the writer decided he should do (but didn't) and tried to make money persuading people to think like him. The best 100 great novels of the 20th century? Who are these frustrated teachers, telling us what is good, better, best?
I'm a fan. A fan of my football team, favourite authors and musicians and look through these lists derisively, wondering why my favourites, which are naturally the best, because I think so, aren't at the top of these lists. There are so many of these lazy, pretentious page-filling trivia, spilling out of newspaper supplements and drossy magazines. They dribble out of the newspaper and ooze off across the carpet directly for the recycling sack. You can almost hear the writers' internal thoughts as they strive to include stuff that will make them seem intelligent, well-read, up-to-date. It is more about the listmaker than the list.
You can love or hate, whatever and whoever you want. If you're really clever, you can make a living telling people what they should or shouldn't want. Like what you like and don't bother with the other stuff.
Here are my Top Ten best football teams of all time.
1 • Tottenham Hotspur.