Wednesday, 28 December 2011
2011 is almost over, which means that it is time to resurrect a meme that I stole a couple of years ago which will help me reflect upon the last twelve months.
Feel free to steal it if you like.
This is quite a long post so just in case you get bored, I will wish you a Happy New Year right at the start, and I hope that 2012 brings all of your dreams to fruition.
Right – here goes – hold your nose and dive right in …
1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
I started learning Spanish. After a holiday to Ibiza I thought that it might be fun to try to at least attempt to communicate in another language. I enrolled in an online course and have actually managed to maintain my momentum (apart from the last week or two thanks to Christmas and a last minute business trip).
Procrastination? I don’t know the meaning of the word.
And I hope to continue in 2012, so much so that I am considering enrolling in a real course at Instituto Cervantes in Manchester. The only thing likely to scupper this is juggling work with study (given that I may end up being out of the country a little more this year).
Hopefully I will prevail. I’ll let you know this time next year.
In the meantime …
Feliz Año Nuevo
2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I failed miserably to write that elusive book again but I think I’m going to change my relationship with writing a little. I think a novel is possibly too ambitious given that I am not the world’s best writer and writing fiction is actually quite hard.
However, I have an idea for a non-fiction book. And I think it might be achievable. I’m not going to promise myself that I will write it – but I may have a go.
My other “resolution” was to get fit again. And actually, recently I have started to make some headway, by walking a lot more.
Nevertheless, the bike still taunts me – maybe when the weather improves (where have you read THAT before?).
Of course I shall make resolutions for next year.
Here we go – let’s see whether I manage to achieve them:
(1) At least TRY to write that elusive book.
(2) Learn Spanish to the point where I can talk to Spaniards without a dictionary.
(3) Cycle to work at least twice a week (when the weather improves).
How’s that (he says trying to ignore Captain Paranoia)?
3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?
This year the penguin suit will not be taken out of the wardrobe. We are going to the Metropolitan pub in West Didsbury for a meal and a disco (or whatever they call that situation where I am dragged up onto the dance floor to make a complete arse of myself in public).
4. Did anyone close to you die?
My ex-wife’s partner died suddenly while Mrs PM and I were away on holiday with the kids in the summer. It was a very traumatic experience and it has changed things a little between W and I (for the better I think). He was a nice guy too and only a couple of years older than I am.
It’s an absolute tragedy.
5. What countries did you visit?
I visited China, Portugal, Spain (Ibiza), Turkey and Switzerland.
6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
I would like to have more money obviously. The good news is that the house is more or less complete (certainly on the inside) so perhaps Mrs PM and I can start to look at spending it on more enjoyable pursuits instead of investing it all in plaster, wallpaper, paint, carpets, light fittings and furniture.
There is still work to do but at least Mrs PM is now a lot happier with our little house – which makes me happy too – particularly as I simply cannot stand a messy house.
7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
No dates stand out really.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I think that would have to be maintaining my interest in learning Spanish. I just hope I can continue to do so.
Also, of course, my continued ability to pour forth the utter bilge that you read on this blog, dear reader.
9. What was your biggest failure?
For the third year running – the book. But I may have a new plan for that.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes – and I wrote about it in June (read it here). Basically I fell over while running for a bus after a beer festival. What a clumsy idiot I was – and am!
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I’ve not bought anything of significance this year. There were quite a few CD’s added to my collection, which I shall mention later, so I guess, boringly, it will have to be one of those.
12. Where did most of your money go?
Usual answer – the house. Also, my eldest lad has started university thus opening yet another bin into which I can throw away cash.
13. What song will always remind you of 2011?
2011 was a brilliant year for music and I have to say that I bought loads of fabulous CD’s. It would be unfair to mention just one song – so here are my top five songs of 2011:
At number 5 – Joe Satriani – Wormhole Wizards
Joe Satriani is my favourite guitarist in the world – a pure genius. The album Black Holes and Wormhole Wizards is his latest solo album and is up there with his best.
At number 4 – The Foo Fighters – Burning Bridges
I love the Foos and this year they returned with a magnificent album called Wasting Light. Here is my favourite song on the album.
At Number 3 – The Black Spiders – Si, El Diablo
I saw the Black Spiders support Aussie rockers Airbourne in 2010 and they are simply one of the best support bands I have ever seen. They finally released their debut album Sons of the North this year and I bought it immediately. This is British rock at its very best.
At Number 2 – Dream Theater – Breaking All Illusions
Dream Theater are magnificent and this year they released yet another storming album called A Dramatic Turn of Events. I love this band and next year I finally (FINALLY) get my chance to see them in the flesh at the Apollo in February. I can’t wait.
At Number 1 – Within Temptation – Faster
The album of the year is The Unforgiving by Dutch rockers Within Temptation – and this is against some very challenging opposition (Foo Fighters, Joe Satriani Dream Theater etc.). I have barely stopped playing it for months now. I love the voice of the lead singer, Sharon van Adel - and she's a lovely lady too. It is a magnificent recording – a triumph. I love it. I was lucky enough to see them in Manchester in November and when they sang Faster (my favourite song on the album), I felt tears running down my cheeks. That’s right – a 49 year old rocker moved to tears by a great rock song. How embarrassing is that? How much more embarrassing is it that I have actually admitted it on this blog?
14. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I had started learning Spanish before going to Ibiza and I wish I had written more posts for the blog. Sadly, this year I have written fewer posts than previous years – not by much – but it matters to me. All this will change in January when you will be subjected to a marathon of posts – one per day; you (un)lucky reader.
15. What do you wish you'd done less of?
I am getting more and more grumpy as the years goes by and I am starting to moan and witter on about trivial things. I think I am going to make an effort to be more positive this year too. I shall still be ranting though – when the need arises of course.
16. What was your favourite TV program?
Too many to mention – but I will try:
Dr Who, Fringe, The Tudors, V, Dexter, Game of Thrones, Torchwood: Miracle Day, Merlin, Terra Nova.
17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No. I genuinely do not hate anybody.
18. What was the best book you read?
Two books stood out this year:
(1) Matter by Iain M. Banks - This is only the second book I have read by Iain M Banks – and it was fabulous. A great slice of science fiction.
(2) The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Mayberry – the sequel to Patient Zero a good mix of sci-fi, horror and action thriller.
19. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Within Temptation – okay, they have been around for a while and I own a previous album but I would say that I have rediscovered the band.
The Black Spiders deserve a mention too, as do Black Country Communion.
Here is Man in the Middle by Black Country Communion.
I would like to thank my work colleague Graham for turning my radar in their direction. They have released two albums and now I have them both. The band has its roots in the Black Country, which is where I come from, and is actually a supergroup made up of Jason Bonham (son of the legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham), Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater keyboard player), legendary blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa and Glenn Hughes (ex Deep Purple).
20. What was your favourite film of this year?
I am going to name two: Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.
21. What did you do on your birthday?
The usual – a lovely romantic meal with my beloved Mrs PM.
22. What kept you sane?
The usual – beer, music and writing this drivel.
23. Who did you miss?
24. Who was the most interesting new person you met?
I don’t normally mention new people but this year I will.
I was lucky enough to meet blogger extraordinaire, Kath Lockett in Geneva while I was working there a week or so ago. I’ve been reading her blog for a couple of years now and she never fails to amuse and interest me.
If you haven’t come across Blurb From The Burbs you should go over there immediately and start reading it.
25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:
(1) Never run for a bus holding a glass having had a couple of pints of beer.
(2) Never stare at a Chinese man having a crap on a squatter – even if he is staring at you.