Thursday 27 December 2012

Goodbye 2012

2012 is almost over so it is time to dust off an old meme that covers the last year. 

Please feel free to steal it yourself.

As usual, this is quite a long post so just in case you get bored, I will wish you all a Happy New Year right at the start, and I hope that 2013 brings all of your dreams to fruition.

I will be jetting off to the sun for New Year (we are off to Tenerife) rather than trying to avoid the rain.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

I visited a new part of the world, the United Arab Emirates. We have friends who have moved out to Abu Dhabi for a couple of years and we decided to pop over and pay them a visit. These friends are the former owners of our hellcat, Liquorice.

The Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi
Burj Khalifa, Dubai

I was a bit worried because I had read some strange stuff on the internet about the place but, as usual, Captain Paranoia was wrong and I enjoyed every bit of it – apart from climbing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building (you can read about it here). I never ever learn.

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Yes and no. Here are last year’s resolutions:

(a) At least TRY to write that elusive book.

Writing a book still eludes me – but I have cheated a little. I have turned my blog into a book – well sort of. I have pulled together most of my blog posts from 2008, 2009 and 2010 and compiled them into five small books, converted them to eBook format and then dumped them onto my Kindle.

So rather than writing a new book, I have compiled five books from words I have written on this very blog over three years.

That sounds impressive but, really, it isn’t.

Nevertheless I will write a book next year because we are going to Japan and I aim to write my third travelogue to summarise the experience.

(b) Learn Spanish to the point where I can talk to Spaniards without a dictionary.

I am still plugging away at Spanish and have improved, despite a bit of a relapse in the last couple of months. I have been to Spain twice this year and have managed to speak to people without a dictionary – only in restaurants though sadly.

(c) Cycle to work at least twice a week (when the weather improves).

I have failed miserably on this promise. I haven’t even taken the bike out this year.

My resolutions for 2013 will therefore remain the same. I’ll report this time next year.

3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?

We are going to Tenerife this year, so hopefully I will be spending New Year’s Eve in the sun, and then in a restaurant followed by a lively bar.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No humans died thankfully. Sadly, my old Ford Escort died in September and I managed to kill my iRiver ihP-140 mp3 jukebox. You can read about my losses here and here.

5. What countries did you visit?

I visited Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, Spain and Italy.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

A little willpower wouldn’t go amiss to be honest. I would love to actually say this time next year that I had gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to writing, cycling and learning Spanish. I might achieve that with some willpower.

Oh – and maybe a winning lottery ticket would help too.

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I guess October 8th stands out because that was the date I entered my sixth decade. I am now officially an old git, at the tender age of 50.

Despite the slide downhill, I actually feel very content and am looking forward to the next ten years.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I would say that my biggest achievement this year was standing up to my fear of heights and climbing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Alas, I didn’t conquer that fear but I am quite proud of the fact that I didn’t turn into a jabbering wreck and scream “GET ME DOWN!!!!”.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Sadly, that would be failing to overcome my fear of heights. I have surrendered in that particular war and promised myself that I will never scale any tall buildings or structures ever again.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

No, thankfully.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The prize is shared between the following:

(a) An iPod Classic

Yes, I have ventured over to the dark side and bought an Apple product. It has a whopping 160 Gb of storage, four times than my old mp3 player, and is far superior in every way. It currently contains approximately 6300 songs and two recorded rock concerts from DVDs. And it is only a third full.

(b) A Kindle Touch

I debated whether or not to buy a Kindle because I didn’t really want to contribute to the end of the paperback. Unfortunately, now that I have one, I much prefer it, mainly because I can keep any books I read without fear of Mrs PM throwing any away in one of here bi-weekly purges. The added bonus is that I can load it with books and it won't get any heavier, thus saving me valuable luggage space for a work trip to Oman at the end of January and a jaunt to Japan in May.

(c) A New Car

My old banger has been replaced by a three year old silver Vauxhall Astra. I feel like a bit of a traitor because it is a much nicer car than my old dead jalopy.

12. Where did most of your money go?

The new car, although my eldest lad, Stephen, who is 19 and in his second year at university, has tried his best to relieve me of as much cash as he can. I have now become a bank.

13. What song will always remind you of 2012?

2012 was a fantastic year for music and once again I bought loads of fabulous CD’s. It would be unfair to mention just one song – so here are my top songs of 2012, although one or two of them are from previous years. Follow the links to listen to some great music:

At number 8Black Country Communion – Cry Freedom

Black Country Communion released their third album  this year, called Afterglow, and it is just as good as the previous two. This is my favourite song on the album.

At number 7Ginger Wildheart – Internal Radio

Ginger Wildheart is another criminally underrated songwriter who produces extremely catchy rock songs. His band, The Wildhearts, have been around for about 20 years now. In 2012 he released a solo album called 100% which is full of captivating songs of which Internal Radio is my favourite.

At number 6 - Ten – Arabian Knights

Ten are an English rock band that you will only ever have heard of on this blog – as I have mentioned them several times in the past, mainly because they are wickedly underrated. This year they released their tenth album, Heresy and Creed, and it is a great slice of melodic rock.

At number 5The Hives – Go Right Ahead 

The Hives are a Swedish punky rock band who write some extremely catchy songs. 2012 saw the release of the album Lex Hives and this wonderfully catchy song.

At number 4 - Porcupine Tree – Idiot Prayer

Porcupine Tree are one of my favourite progressive rock bands and I have been collecting some of their older albums. This year I bought 1996’s Signify and the best track is Idiot Prayer – progressive rock at its very best.

At number 3Steven Wilson – Deform To Form A Star

The main man behind Porcupine Tree is Steven Wilson, a prolific prog rock genius. In 2011 he released his second solo album called Grace For Drowning which is a masterpiece. Deform To Form a Star is a beautiful, spine tingling, mellow masterpiece that will make the hairs stand up on the back of your head. I love this song.

At number 2Muse – Survival

2012 was a triumph for Britain, with the Olympics taking centre stage. I loved every bit of the entire event including the opening ceremony, and the incredible sport. Best of all, though was this incredible song from Muse, the official anthem for the Olympics. The album, The 2nd Law, is equally good and easily the second best album of the year.

At number 1Rush – Headlong Flight

So what could beat Survival by Muse? Only one band – the magnificent Rush who released the album Clockwork Angels in 2012, their best album for years. I have barely stopped playing it. How can a band that has been producing superb albums for almost 40 years provide one of their greatest recordings so late in their career? They are geniuses – nothing more; nothing less. Headlong Flight is the song of 2012.

14. What do you wish you'd done more of?

I wish I had made a bit more of an effort with Spanish – like starting a proper course. My problem is that work commitments usually jeopardize courses. For example, I can never be sure whether I will have to work late or jet off somewhere. For example, if I wanted a winter course, it would be screwed by a three week trip to Oman I have to make at the end of January.

Maybe I should say no – but it is a brand new country for me and the lure of that makes me excited. I am not looking forward to the work though.

15. What do you wish you'd done less of?

As usual, I would like to have done less procrastinating and less ranting. Maybe this year?

16. What was your favourite TV program?

Once again, TV has been great this year. Here are a few to mention:

The Walking Dead, Dexter, True Blood, Fringe, Game of Thrones, Dr Who, Falling Skies, Red Dwarf X, Alphas, Merlin, Warehouse 13 and many more.

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

No – but I have added to the list of people I want to dump into a spaceship bound for the Planet Tharg. One day I will write a list.

18. What was the best book you read?

That’s easy – The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks.

I am gradually working my way through the author’s Culture novels and still have a lot to get through. I may start reading some of his non Science Fiction efforts when I have finished them all.

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I haven’t discovered any new bands this year, sadly. Let’s hope that changes in 2013.

20. What was your favourite film of this year?

I have seen some great films this year, including The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Skyfall (the new James Bond movie).

My favourite, by a long way is The Avengers Assemble.

21. What did you do on your birthday?

On my actual birthday, October 8th, I spent a boring day at work and then Mrs PM and I ordered a Chinese take away and shared a bottle of wine.

However, the real celebrations was a four day break in Rome with friends, which you can read about here.

22. What kept you sane?

Work has been especially hard this year, particularly recently. When I am working long days, I tend to drift into a day dream thinking about spending time with Mrs PM in a foreign country where work is at the other side of the universe and therefore cannot be considered.

Add to that the usual remedies for insanity – beer, blogging and a good dose of music – and I can get through most things.

23. Who did you miss?

Nobody leaps to mind.

24. Who was the most interesting new person you met?

Nobody stood out this year, but next year I have decided to make more of an effort to chat to strangers, something that I don’t tend to do much because of my inherent shyness. Is that a new resolution? Perhaps – we’ll see.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

I'll tell you three life lessons:

(a) Being 50 years old is actually pretty good.

(b) The Twilight Saga is rubbish.

(c) Gadgets don’t bounce.


Elephant's Child said...

Great meme, great answers. Good luck with Spanish, cycling and the book. And, have a wonderful new year. A benchmark for the ones to come.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

I hope you and your family have a great 2013 too.




Mind Of Mine said...

Wow, you did so much. I feel inferior.

Jackie K said...

Happy 50th, PM!
It actually sounds like you had a really good, happy year. Hope 2013 treats you well.
Other than Muse and Rush, I have not heard of any of those bands.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi MoM,

Don't feel inferior. Some years are better than others.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Belated New Year greetings, Jackie.

Hope 2013 is great for you too.




MedicatedMoo said...

A terrific meme, PlasMan. It sounds like you had a very, very good 2012 and I wish you the same for 2013.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

And (belated) New Year greetings to you, LC, Sapphire and of course, Milly.