Monday, 29 December 2008

Ringing in the new, or some such other festive bollocks

It's been over six months since I've written here.

A lot can happen in six months. And looking back on it, it did, even though it didn't seem like it at the time. So I thought to get the ball rolling again, and because I really don't have much to say that isn't self-indulgent whinging, I'd fill in one of those 'end of year survey' thingies. Y'know, since it's the end of the year, and all. Another one.

What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
I played in a swing band. I did. I actually did it. I don't know what drove me to - just pure frustration, I think, at not doing what I believe I was put on this earth to do. But do it I did; I picked up my clarinet one night, jumped in the car, walked into a roomful of strangers and played. Within a week I was gigging. And it was marvellous. Exhilarating. Breathtaking. Immensely wonderful. I use the past tense because I've not been in a while due to a rather ill-timed resurgence of the agoraphobia - rehearsals are all the way across the other side of London and sometimes it's just too much. I am fully planning to go back in the new year, if physiology allows.

Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did, although I started very late, but not a single cigarette has passed my lips since the 11th of April. A random date, I know. I will make some more next year, namely: do more exercise, eat better, write more, and to do something new at least once a month.

What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Sleep. Good health. Fun. Goals. Laughter.

What date(s) from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I've floated through this year without paying attention to anything, really. Half the time I didn't even notice what day it was, let alone the date. So my pick will be recent: On the 28th November, I met my comedy hero, the immensely talented and deliciously lovely Bill Bailey, after the first of the er, four, shows I've attended on his run at the Geilgud in London's West End. We talked briefly about the Westcountry, he signed my programme 'Exeter! Hurrah!' and very graciously posed for a photo, in which I, typically, look like a twat. Isn't that always the way? On the plus side though, I did manage not to faint.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I played a gig at the 100 Club in London's Oxford Street with the jazz orchestra. It was, hands down, the most amazing thing I've ever done in my life. There was a period of about ten minutes when the DJ introduced us, the baton went up and the lights flooded us from above during which I honestly thought I was going to die, for my body has not quite yet worked out the difference between good adrenaline and bad adrenaline, but once I got through that - and I did - the experience was mindblowing. A 50ish strong jazz orchestra crammed onto that tiny little stage, trumpets behind me blaring in my ears, the lights shining on me, the audience dancing... Friends came to support me and I could sense their pride. Could I remember the actual date, it would have formed the answer to question 4.

What was your biggest failure?
Well, I finally got fired in October. I knew it was coming, and frankly, at the time, I didn't give a monkey's. I'm still not sure whether I do give a monkey's or not. Honestly, it was a relief. But, this is supposed to be one of life's great failures, is it not?

What was the best thing you bought?
A 1970s Buescher Aristocrat alto sax - it's amazing. And a car, which, while an interminable pile of shit, has, for 250 quid, enabled me to get out and about and do lots of band stuff, so that's second best.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
Boris Johnson. Not for his politics, but for falling up the steps on the way to his inaugural speech as Mayor. Best laugh I had all year. John McCain, for his amazingly gracious speech in defeat, so humble that although not a supporter (of either of them, actually, since I'm in the UK) it bought a lump to my throat. My friends, who've pulled me out of really quite a rubbish place over the last few months.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My own, mostly.

Where did most of your money go?
Rent, vet bills, musical instruments, nicotine gum.

What song will always remind you of 2008?
Judie Tzuke - 'Like The Sun':

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Working towards my goals. Not that I'm entirely sure what they are, of course. I've slacked off a horrendous amount this year. With good reason, but still - it's not great.

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Eating crap food. Hiding in my flat. Wasting time on untenable situations. Pissing the day away on the internet.

What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in 2008?
My car was crushed by the council because I forgot to tax it, and I didn't notice it had gone for three whole days. Primarily because I hadn't been out of the flat...

Did you fall in love in 2008?
Quite the opposite, in fact: I fell spectacularly, and very reluctantly, out of it. Never again. Remember how I posted last year about not loving? This was why. I knew there was a reason I didn't, and shouldn't have. This was the reason. It hurt more than I ever thought possible. Still does.

What was your favorite TV program?
Britain From Above, in particular the first episode; its highlighting of the rampant consumerism we are now practicing in this country shocked me to the core.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

What kept you sane?
Friends. Music. Livejournal. Slash (fiction, not horror. Wonderful escapism, and the members of slash comms are some of the nicest, most genuine people I've ever met). Painkillers. Comedy. Harmless but slightly obsessional celebrity crushes.

What did you want and get?
To play in a swing band. A new saxophone. A spot in a sax ensemble. Got them all.

What did you want and not get?
A career in music of some description, but that's purely because I've done the sum total of piss all to make it happen.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
It was a birthday weekend, and I spent it in Surrey with two of my best friends; we got quite drunk, they got me some ridiculously silly presents, made me a spag bol and a cake with a cigarette lighter stuck in it because we had no candles, and I was 36. I still have no idea how that happened.

What three things would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Better health
More motivation
Someone to share it with in the flesh, rather than over an internet connection.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Bill Bailey. Westcountry boy made good, frighteningly intelligent, eyes you could lose yourself in, makes me laugh till my sides ache, ridiculously musically talented - what's not to love?

What political issue stirred you the most?
You know, I'm sure everyone's going to say 'the credit crunch'. I'm not, because, possibly due to my almost Good Life-like existence in which credit does not exist, I largely believe it's of peoples' own making.

What is a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008?
Question everything, never accept less than you deserve, and that music and comedy make everything better.

What quote can be used to sum up your year?
There are two:

1) "The duck lies shredded in a pancake; soaking in the hoisin of your lies" - Bill Bailey
2) "The fact is, sometimes it's hard to walk in a single woman's shoes. That's why we need really special ones now and then - to make the walk a little more fun." - Carrie Bradshaw


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