THE WORD: Idle
Modern life is amazing, with its machines that let us chat with family on the other side of the planet, take us from London to Tokyo in half a day, get our dishes sparkling-clean at the touch of a button. But it seems the more we can do, the more is demanded of us. We, however, are not machines, no matter how much the world expects us to act like it. And it’s important for each of us to power down occasionally, especially after such an extra-stressful and uncertain holiday period. So mute the voices that demand constant output. Dial back the efficiency. Idle for a while. It doesn’t matter if you do something you enjoy or do nothing at all. What’s important is that you spend time, however much you can, in which you’re not productive, not optimised, not serving any purpose in particular. You’re just you, idling blissfully.
Perfect If: You know that, at your core, you are a human being – not a human doing.
THE NEW YEAR’S SPECIAL: Return To Hogwarts
Last November marked the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter film, and, along with a re-release of the movie and a Hogwarts Tournament of Houses, members of the star-studded cast are now reuniting to chat and reveal what it was like to be part of the most magical saga in history. On 1 January, HBO Max will host a once-in-a-lifetime reunion of the famous trio of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), along with the stars who played other main characters – including Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort) and Gary Oldman (Sirius Black) – all of whom will give exclusive interviews and share never-before-heard revelations. What’s more, it’s all going down on the original sets of the castle-school where the magic first took place. Potterhead or not, it’s a fun start to the new year.
Perfect If: After 20 years, you’re still waiting for your letter from Hogwarts. Consider this your formal invitation.
THE TREAT: Galette des Rois
Though traditionally eaten in France to celebrate Epiphany (6 January), we’ll take any excuse to tuck into this enticing cake made of sweet frangipane almond cream sandwiched between two flaky puff pastry crusts. It’s also an excuse for a parlour game: each cake contains a small trinket or bean, called a fève. Whoever finds the fève in their slice of galette des rois, or ‘King Cake’, gets to be ‘King for the Day’ – and must supply the next King Cake at the next gathering. Using store-bought puff pastry makes baking this indulgent French specialty a cinch, no matter your skill level in the kitchen.
Perfect If: You’re not the type to swear off the sweetest things in life just because a new year has begun.
THE SHOW: As We See It
Emmy award-winning writer and producer Jason Katims, of Friday Night Lights fame, is back with a new Amazon series about life on the autism spectrum. The show follows three roommates as they navigate the joys and challenges of love, work, friendship and life. Given that the three main actors all identify as autistic in real life, they are able to provide an authentic and inspiring perspective of their journeys to find what we all seek: acceptance and independence. Premiering 21 January on Amazon Prime Video, the trailer itself is already giving This Is Us vibes for all the right reasons, so viewers can expect a good laugh and a few tears – the cathartic kind of tears.
Perfect If: You’re up for an emotional, heartwarming start in 2022.
THE FILM: The Tender Bar
Pulitzer award-winner J.R. Moehringer’s memoir comes to life in this George Clooney-directed coming-of-age film starring Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan, Christopher Lloyd and Lily Rabe. The story follows a 9-year-old (Moehringer himself) who moves in with his grandfather and his uncle, the latter a bartender who introduces him to the ways of the world – and his bar’s idiosyncratic array of regulars. A feel-good film like to cosy up with this frosty season. Pair it with a nice hot-toddy, and you’re all set.
Perfect If: You’re so over all the superhero movies (we get it). Or if you’re just dying to see Affleck on screen again (we are).
THE EVENT: Jaipur Literature Festival
Home to more than 100 languages, many with their own reading and publishing cultures, India’s literary scene is deep and wide. It’s not so surprising, then, that the country is home to the world’s largest free literary festival, attracting book lovers from all over the world each year. This year, the Jaipur Literature Festival will take place in hybrid form, with an online and in-person programme featuring guest speakers, forums, concerts and all sorts of literature-based activities for bookworms to revel in. When, you ask? From 28 January to 1 February.
Perfect If: You’re curious about what one of the world’s most prolific yet underrated publishing nations has to offer.
THE DOCUMENTARY: Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America
Criminal defense and civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson has spent most of his life campaigning against systemic, anti-Black racism in the United States, and his work is reaching further than ever with the release of a groundbreaking documentary. Written by Robinson and directed by Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America merges valuable archival footage with insightful interviews and Robinson’s own accounts from the frontlines of the struggle. The lawyer draws a clear timeline of racism in the country, from pre-Civil War slavery to the current “modern myth of a post-racial America”. Exactly the film that the US, and the world, needs right now.
Perfect If: You know that the global fight for racial justice and equality is far from over.
THE SOUND: Bonobo’s Fragments
Get your headphones ready for Bonobo! No wait, make it your speakers. The loudest you can find. At least, that’s what we did when he released “Rosewood”, his latest track – and the single from his next record, Fragments. The album will be out on 14 January, and will mark Simon Green’s seventh studio album as the artist Bonobo. Once you’ve got it in your hands (or, you know, your preferred music streaming service), make sure to look out for guests Jamila Woods, Kadhja Bonet and Joji.
Perfect If: The clubs are closed where you are – or you’re not ready for public clubbing – but you still want to get that house feeling… in your house.