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A Year In Recap: 2016

I’ve done my travel round-up and my book round-ups – fiction, non-fiction, and biographies – but here’s a recap of the highlights and lowlights of 2016 overall.

New Year

I saw in the new year with a bunch of friends. We followed some weird and wonderful traditions from around the world, and as the clock struck midnight we burned our wishes for the year and drank the ashes with our champagne.

The notebook transcription project

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This year I began transcribing all my notebooks into one humongous document on a computer. Originally I wanted to start the project in about October and get them all done before the end of the year. Neglecting to work out, of course, that there’s sixteen years of writing there, and that’s probably going to take more than a couple of months to write up. So, the project is ongoing.

The divorce

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It came through, finally.

The flat was finished

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Structurally, anyway (hopefully, at least). The floor was replaced, the boiler was replaced, another floor was crowbared up and replaced, the front door was replaced, I got a new kitchen…

It was a year and a half of building works, but now I feel like my house isn’t going to fall down around me. Probably.

I wrote a novel

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It’s called The Pause, and no it hasn’t been published. Yet.

I cleared all my debts

So, yay. Go me.

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I became a Childline volunteer

After an interview and a long, pretty intense period of training. It is without a doubt one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I love it. I recommend it. Childline are awesome.

ROGER PENROSE

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MY FAVOURITE PHYSICIST CAME TO LONDON AND I WENT TO SEE HIM SPEAK AND HE SIGNED A BOOK FOR ME AND OMG IT WAS EVERYTHING.

Rediscovering the joys of walking around London

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For some reason I’d managed to get out of the habit of this in recent years. 2016 saw the resurgence of the London walks – when I went into town to meet my friends, I’d generally walk there, and sometimes back as well.

I wandered around in the evenings, discovered little streets and restaurants and bookshops.

It’s something I’d like to keep doing next year.

A load of people died and it fucking sucked

Bowie. Alan Rickman. Umberto Eco. Esma Redzepova. Leonard Cohen. My friend George. My grandad. All of whom I loved, to different degrees and for different reasons.

Choir

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I joined a choir and sang in a couple of concerts. Somehow I’d forgotten how much I love singing. I hadn’t forgotten that I love it, of course – but when I started again, I remembered how much it takes over my life, how it gives me a feeling unlike any other. How it is one of the best forms of therapy and freedom and release.

I also started having singing lessons, which I’d never done before, and I was nervous, but they are fantastic and I’m thoroughly enjoying them.

The Star Trek project

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A while ago, I decided I wanted to watch all the Star Trek episodes. I want to join the club of Very Special People who have seen every single one.

So, I started with TOS, and then worked my way through TNG, and then through DS9 (which I hadn’t seen at all before), and now I’m in season 5 of VOY (which I’ve seen about a hundred times before, but I don’t care). All I have left is the rest of VOY, then ENT (which I haven’t seen), and then if I’m feeling adventurous I might look at TAS and the reboots. We’ll see. It’s been fun.

My mother came to stay

…and she stayed for quite a while, which was less challenging than I thought it’d be, until she moved everything around while I was away and I returned home to a flat where I didn’t know where anything was. But apart from that, it was actually quite nice.

Internet privacy

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I went to Brussels to be part of the rewrite of the European Commission’s ePrivacy Directive. I had an excellent time and was thrilled to be a part of something so important – and also happy that I’d gone along, because there were only a handful of us there who were truly championing the privacy side of things from an individual user’s perspective.

Being a judge for a day

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I went to UCD for a few days to talk to the research team there about digital forensics. While I was there, I was asked to stand in as a fake judge in the law school’s student examinations.

It was fucking brilliant. I got called “Your Honour” all day (something I could definitely get used to), and I got to say things like “Order in the court!” and be generally cranky.

Might have missed a calling there…

Steaks with Umit

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The BFF and I went for a few symmetrical steak dinners at the wonderful Flatiron this year. We also went for a couple of other meals. We don’t exclusively eat steak. Although that is an idea…

It’s a tradition I think we’ll have to continue in 2017, perhaps with a bit more regularity!

I started therapy (again)

…sort of accidentally.

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No, not the wine kind. Well, not exclusively 😉

I went along to see a therapist because I’d noticed a weird thing my brain was doing that I wanted to nip in the bud before it ended in some kind of meltdown.

At the consultation session, she asked me (naturally) about my childhood and I sketched a brief, vague outline. She asked if I’d ever actually been through a whole set of therapy about that, from start to finish, and I admitted I hadn’t. She pointed out that this would probably be a good idea at some point. I agreed, and so we started having regular sessions. She is excellent and it has already hugely changed my life for the better.

If you’re thinking about going to therapy but you’re nervous, I recommend it. Also, I recommend my therapist specifically. She’s awesome, and she does telephone / Skype counselling too, so if you’re looking for a good one, drop me a line and I’ll send you her details.

A puppy moved in

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…along with his human, for a couple of months, and then moved out again. He was very cute but very crazy, and the cat was Not Impressed. She moved into the wardrobe for a few weeks.

I invited a load of strangers from the internet over

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…and none of them turned out to be an axe murderer. In fact, they were all incredibly cool and now we’re friends. It was set up by Wait But Why, which is a brilliant website.

The world voted to obliterate itself twice

OK, OK, Brexit probably won’t obliterate us, it’ll just be a major pain in the ass.

Trump, though…

RENAUD

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I FINALLY SAW RENAUD LIVE AND OMG IT WAS AMAZING.

The wine collection

At one point this year, I was walking down the street when I found a big wine rack discarded outside someone’s house. This is the kind of thing that happens when you live in West London.

I took it home, of course, and was pondering how to fill it when a card dropped through my door from Your Sommelier. Célian, the guy who runs it, was offering private sales of affordable yet excellent French wines. I emailed him, said I’d like to start a collection and had a big wine rack to fill… and it was the start of a beautiful and blossoming friendship. Or not so much a friendship as a “he brings me boxes of wine and then leaves” thing – the best kind of relationship.

Songwriting

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I wrote a few songs this year, having bought a piano and given her the above label (the only correct label for a piano of mine).

I’ve only recorded a couple – sketchily, on my phone (they sound better if you listen through headphones, but then so do most things).

Oh my brother, a new ukulele number:

And Ave Maria, which isn’t actually about Jesus’ mum:

There are several more, but I haven’t got adequate recordings of them yet. I might take them out for a spin at a few open mic nights in 2017. And maybe even a gig or two, who knows?

An impromptu Barcelona trip

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A bunch of us headed over to Barcelona to see Caitlin, and we had a wonderful time celebrating midsummer, wandering around the city, eating too much and hanging out.

The cat nearly died

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Which was stressful and expensive, but ultimately she survived, so all was OK.

One of my businesses broke through the VAT barrier

Pretty exciting, except that apparently registering for VAT is actually quite difficult and now I’m confused and stuck in a seemingly unending labyrinth of admin.

But, yay! Business going well!

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Wine with friends

I’ve had several excellent chats with friends over wine this year.

  • With Hippy Poppins the day after New Year, with Bananagrams and Cards Against Humanity
  • With a friend I hadn’t seen in years, catching up on all the crazy things that had happened in our lives since then
  • With people from choir, many many times
  • With Miles and Laura, several times, sometimes graduating to whisky as we set the world to rights and had long, in-depth discussions about life and religion and spirituality
  • With my local French club, in a posh hotel, on evenings when we’re not allowed to speak English and I feel out of place and yet still somehow enjoy it
  • In Barcelona, with Caitlin, Lia and Eirini
  • With Kerry, for their birthday and before they moved to Scotland, in my flat and theirs, sometimes accompanied by films and cooking and political rants
  • With Emma and Becca, over dinner in King’s Cross, when I hopefully didn’t embarrass myself too much and maybe we’ll do it again?
  • With Ali again, over takeout Japanese food at my place, while she brushed the cat and we talked about everything in the way only BFFs can
  • With Anna & Simon in Glastonbury, where I don’t go often enough and where I always end up feeling like I’ve reset my brain. More Glastonbury trips coming up in 2017, I hope. Those conversations where everything picks up exactly where you left off and it feels like people just get it.

And that, in a nutshell, has been 2016.

Here’s to 2017 – in the words of WolfSkullJack, may your demons slumber and your wine glass be full.

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