Is it sad that I’m immensely proud of the title?
This is (yet) a(nother) 40-questions-about-yourself meme that I stole from Cellar Door. Needless to say, you should read her answers in preference to mine because, if Cellar Door is the Judi Dench of the blogosphere (multi-award-winning; loved, admired and respected by all who encounter her work) then I’m its Nikki Grahame…
Anyway, enough self-deprecating humour that might be misinterpreted as fishing for compliments. Let’s crack on with the meme.
1) What did you do in 2010 that you’ve never done before?
Meet up with a fellow blogger in real life. I had a great time, and I think he did as well (although I’m not 100% sure about that – he might have just been being polite). It’s a slightly surreal experience, though – saying blog pseudonyms out loud is just plain weird (well it is until the alcohol kicks in…).
2) Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and have you made more for 2011?
I don’t do formal new year’s resolutions, but I am sort-of vaguely intending to be less of a stranger to my friends, and try and knuckle down to a couple of projects I have in mind. But they’re definitely not resolutions – that way I can still look myself in the eye next December 31st when I’ve spent the whole year eating chocolate and wanking.
3) Did anyone close to you give birth?
4) Did anyone close to you die?
No. And there you were, with ‘Circle of Life’ all cued up and ready to go…
5) What countries did you visit?
None. In fact, thinking about it, I haven’t been further than walking distance away from home for two complete calendar years. That’s terrible.
6) What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
The internet lacks sufficient data storage to provide a full list of all the things that I would like to have in 2011 that I didn’t have in 2010. But, if I were to reduce it to one, I think the ability to live comfortably and quietly inside my own skull would be pretty amazing, and probably the first step on the road to acquiring all the other things.
7) What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
That’s not the way my memory works. I recall events well enough, in a level of detail that sometimes surprises people, but I have a fairly vague sense of when they happened – anything more specific than the season (which I’ll probably be able to infer from remembering what the weather was like) is pretty much always beyond me.
8) What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Ok, this is terribly sad, but it’s the only thing even remotely resembling an ‘achievement’ that I can think of: I managed to negotiate the transition from one ISP to another, even though that involved decision-making, and using the phone, and opening the door to a stranger, which are all things that I find extremely difficult, especially at the time of year I had to do it. Man, but it’s depressing having to call that an achievement.
9) What was your biggest failure?
That I didn’t attempt something I might have failed at.
10) Did you suffer illness or injury?
Injury: no. Illness: only the usual mentalist stuff, and given that it’s such a ubiquitous part of my life I’m not entirely sure that ought to be classed as illness – I think by now I have to accept that’s just me.
11) What was the best thing someone bought you?
I guess that depends what we mean by ‘best thing’. If we mean ‘thing most likely to be valued by other people’ then it would be the Nintendo Wii I was given, but since that has gone unopened into the cupboard (and will stay there, unless I give it away or sell it – I’m so not a Wii person) I wouldn’t class it as a best thing. The thing I was bought that I enjoyed most was probably a pint of lager – see the answer to question 1 for further details. And, anyway, what’s up with the way this question’s worded – shouldn’t it be ‘What was the best thing someone gave you?’ I mean, it’s the kindness of giving, not the fact they bought it, that matters, surely?
12) Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Now, this is tricky, because I’ve spent so little time interacting with other people I pretty much can’t answer it with reference to my own life. So instead I’ll go for a wider answer, and say those people (students, and the supporters of UK Uncut) who rediscovered the political possibilities of direct action.
13) Whose behaviour made you appalled and/or depressed?
Again, I’m going to go for the general answer, and say the Liberal Democrats. Not because they abandoned what they had previously led us to believe were their most cherished values (they’re professional politicians – it goes with the territory), but because their extraordinary weakness in negotiation has given a mistaken impression of what coalition government means. Most people now think a coalition government is one in which the senior partner get almost all of their policies enacted unchanged, in return for enacting a couple of minor policies the junior partner wants. That’s not what a coalition government should be. A coalition government ought to be one in which every measure enacted is a compromise between what both partners want. In other words, a moderate, consensual government, not one that’s riding hell for leather in pursuit of an extremist agenda opposed by the overwhelming majority of the population. To all intents and purposes, in fact, we don’t have a coalition government; we have a government in which the Liberal Democrats have for some reason agreed to vote as though they’re Conservatives.
14) Where did most of your money go?
Into the pockets of chocolate manufacturers.
15) What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I don’t believe I’ve got really, really, really excited about anything since childhood holidays – certainly nothing else matches up to that ‘too excited to sleep’ feeling. I wish I could join Cellar Door in saying Dr Who, but even that seems to have paled for me – I didn’t even watch the christmas special this (last) year.
16) What songs will always remind you of 2010?
Again, not the way my mind works. I tend to experience songs as their own little world, and so I don’t usually connect them to a particular place or time in the real one. Basically, ‘A/B Machines’ by Sleigh Bells (he said, namedropping shamelessly) will always remind me of itself, not the place or time when I first heard it.
17) Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
I’m always the same at this time of year – pretty intensely unhappy.
b) fatter or skinnier?
Fatter, I assume (it’s usually a safe bet).
c) richer or poorer?
Richer, but that deserves its own post, and will get one – probably sometime in 2047, judging by current blog performance.
18) What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I’d taken more advantage of those parts of the year when I feel marginally less incapable of doing things. Not any specific things, but just more of anything other than the same tired daily round.
19) What do you wish you’d done less of?
The same tired daily round.
20) How do you plan to spend christmas?
Hmm, I wonder, does this meme date from before the 25th? At this distance I’m not exactly planning it, but I’d quite like to spend it quietly moseying around on my own. Or, failing that, in a medically induced coma. I’d pretty much like to spend the whole of the winter in a medically induced coma.
21) Did you fall in love in 2010?
No, but I was a little surprised to find I was somewhat open to the possibility. Maybe it’s just that I’ve got bored imagining endless terrible scenarios befalling myself, and want to worry about them befalling someone else instead. A change is as good as a rest, and all that.
22) How many one night stands?
[Engage sleazy 70s porn star mode] You wanna perch on my night stand, you just say the word, baby… [Disengage sleazy 70s porn star mode]
23) What was your favourite TV programme?
That’s a surprisingly hard question to answer, I think probably because nothing this year really stood out. I enjoyed the bits I saw of In Treatment, and the last series of Ugly Betty managed to be funny and sweet again, at least in places. I haven’t got round to watching all of Getting On yet, but that seemed to be pretty good, and I’m looking forward to a Miranda marathon in the next few days. The history of The Normans on BBC2 was quite interesting, albeit ‘revisionist’ enough that even as someone who knows next to nothing about the period I could tell that they were being painted in an excessively rosy light – I seem to recall the harrying of the North was significantly underplayed, for example. I watched a one-off programme on BBC4 about The Joy of Stats that was improbably entertaining, but other than that I don’t remember any good science programmes this year. (Was Wonders of the Solar System this year? Even if it was, I mainly watched it to perve over Prof. Brian Cox; the aforesaid wonders were all things I knew already, pretty much.) I also enjoyed being made to feel very stupid by the most ridiculously difficult quiz on TV, Only Connect, although I missed the final, much to my annoyance. The BBC had a series of programmes based around diaries and diarists that I enjoyed; I particularly remember Richard E Grant talking to Joe Orton’s sister, and another programme, presented by Sue Perkins, about 19th century landowner and ‘first modern lesbian’ Anne Lister that was fascinating (although I didn’t watch the accompanying dramatic adaptation of the diaries for some reason). Oh, and I might have accidentally watched Downton Abbey, too, although, if I had, I’d be far too embarrassed to admit to it here.
24) Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is a strong word. I’m not sure I actually hate anyone at all, although there are a few people I have a fairly intense dislike for, and one or two I would go to some lengths to avoid spending time with. There haven’t been any additions to that group of people this year, anyway.
25) What was the best book you read?
If memory serves (and it probably doesn’t – my mind is in tatters at the moment), I only read (as opposed to re-read) two books in 2010 – Wayfarers by Knut Hamsun, and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Of those two, the Mantel was unquestionably the better book, but not without its flaws; I have a half-completed comparative review of Wolf Hall and Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch that might see the light of day sometime.
26) What was your greatest musical discovery?
Put it this way: it’s January 2011, and I’m just about prepared to commit myself and say that the greatest musical discovery I made in 2007 was Shout Out Louds (awful band name, I know; apparently they released a new album in 2010, which had managed to completely escape me until now). So, I might have some idea of which of the bands and artists I first encountered in 2010 I like best by early 2014. Although I am prepared to go out on a limb right now and say it probably won’t be The Wanted, my sneaking admiration for boybands notwithstanding.
27) What did you want and get?
Christmas on my own, without all the family hassles.
28) What did you want and not get?
Er… world peace? That’s usually the answer to one of these questions, right?
29) What was your favourite film of the year?
I didn’t see any films in 2010. To my eternal regret, I don’t really have the concentration span for films anymore, even when they’re on the telly – anything longer than an hour or so and my mind decides it would rather stage a panic attack. And to think I once sat through (and enjoyed) the LOTR films!
30) What did you do on your birthday?
I genuinely don’t remember, which suggests I may finally have achieved my goal of thinking of it as just another day.
31) What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A penis larger than all the world.
32) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
If it’s black, and it fits, and it isn’t so old that it’s actually falling apart, I’ll wear it. This has been my personal fashion concept ever since I started buying my own clothes.
33) What kept you sane?
Late-night re-runs of Scrubs and Father Ted, and occasional consultations with Dr Al Cohol, kept me saner than I would otherwise have been.
34) Which celebrity/ public figure did you fancy the most?
Russell Tovey, probably, although I also have a woman-crush (the gay equivalent of a straight guy’s man-crush) on Rachel Maddow. She’s awesome. I want to gay-marry her. (What? We’re both gay, obviously it would be a gay marriage…)
35) What political issue stirred you the most?
Our current government’s pursuit of policies that will, little by little, turn us into a nation something like China or India – places that are wealthy enough to qualify as members of the first world, but are marked by the massive economic and social inequalities of the third world. Although we’re actually acting more like a tin-pot dictatorship than either of those two countries. Just look at the way we’re pouring our limited resources into military vanity projects – aircraft-carriers without any aircraft on them; an ‘independent nuclear deterrent’ we have to ask America for permission to use – in a desperate attempt to persuade the rest of the world to take us seriously.
36) Who do you miss?
No-one. I’ve always had good aim.
37) Who was the best new person you met?
See question 1.
38) What was the best thing you ate?
I don’t think much I ate in 2010 rose above the ‘food is fuel’ level. Although I did become temporarily obsessed with red kale, and the roast potatoes I made on christmas day were pretty good, if I do say so myself.
39) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
That there’s no point in endlessly fighting battles you’ve lost a thousand times before, and can’t ever win: that, sometimes, giving up the fight and retiring from the field with a little dignity is all you can hope to achieve.
40) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
You look so tired, unhappy
Bring down the government
They don’t, they don’t speak for us
I’ll take a quiet life
A handshake of carbon monoxide
And no alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
Radiohead, ‘No Surprises’.